Why do people bully?

Learn the reasons why people may be driven to bully

Written by spunout


If you’ve ever been bullied, you’ll probably have wondered what it is that makes people bully and why they do it. The Anti-Bullying Centre at DCU conducts a variety of research into bullying, as well as offering resources to victims. As part of their work, they have identified the most common reasons why people bully.

Some people seem to be born with a tendency towards aggressive behaviour, but this aggression can be aggravated by their home life, school life or even wider society. Aggressive behaviour (like bullying), needs to be dealt with when a person is young, otherwise there is a danger that the aggression could worsen with age and that the person could even enter a life of crime.

Factors that increase the likelihood of bullying and aggression

Home factors 

  • Abuse in the form of cruelty or neglect.
  • Physical violence in the home between parents or other adults.
  • Excessive physical punishment.
  • Lack of love and attention.
  • Lack of discipline.
  • Excessive amounts of freedom.
  • Parents not dealing with the aggression.

School factors 

  • Lack of supervision.
  • Harsh or humiliating punishment.
  • Low staff morale.
  • Lack of rewards for good behaviour.
  • A school curriculum that doesn’t allow students to feel proud or successful.
  • Research has also demonstrated that wider societal factors play a part in bullying, such as violence on TV and in the movies. In fact, children who regularly watch violent scenes on TV are more likely to be aggressive.

If you notice bullying or are the victim of bullying, its important to get help from an adult. Try and take the time to talk to a parent, teacher, school counselor or trusted adult about all that is going on. Adults can provide you advice and guidance on how to stop bullying and on how to make the situation better. 

Note that if you feel like you don’t have anyone to talk to be sure to check out these organisations: ChildLineTeenLine IrelandSamaritans – they offer instant messaging chat services, helplines and text-based support as well.

If you’d like to read more about this topic, click here to go to the Anti-Bullying Centre website.

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