Why Might a Student Bully?


Bullying can happen for a wide variety of reasons, including the students’ characteristics, beliefs, community and family factors and school environments.


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Common characteristics and beliefs

Friendship struggles, mental health issues, family violence and other traumas can have significant impact on a young person’s behaviour and capacity to manage emotions. This can sometimes lead to bullying type behaviour. Students who engage in bullying behaviour may:

  • be unwilling or unable to value difference
  • be less empathetic than other students
  • be preoccupied with their own goals and not concerned about the rights of others
  • have low levels of moral reasoning and high levels of egocentric reasoning
  • have poor impulse control and poor anger management skills
  • believe that the use of aggression is an acceptable way to achieve their own goals
  • be less likely to consider the negative consequences of their actions on others or on their own relationships over time.

Students who engage in bullying behaviour may also:

  • be less anxious than peers
  • have good verbal skills and ability to talk themselves out of trouble
  • have good leadership skills
  • have high self-esteem and an inflated view of themselves, especially about their social behaviour and influence.