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.


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.