In a recent study presented at the 118th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association in San Diego, researchers investigated why bullies bully and delivered the results at the conference.
The study was conducted with 666 students ages 12 to 16 from 14 schools in the U.K. who had recently reported bullying others. In order to fairly assess the data, the researchers compared the bullies data with a group of 478 students who were not bullies.
The study group was asked various questions on bullying behavior, including a question on why they bullied others. Other factors looked at were students’ mental health, substance abuse issues and demographic information. Some of the findings of this study are somewhat surprising:
- Bullies were much more likely to live in a home where there is not two biological parents. This could be a single parent household, living with relatives, or in a foster home. This could speculate that bullies are not getting enough attention at home.
- The study also found bullies were at high risk for alcohol and substance abuse. Fifty-nine percent of bullies said they had been offered alcohol in the last seven days compared with just 28.5 percent of non-bullies.
- Bullies have a higher risk for mental health problems, including depression, anxiety and hostility.
- Bullies hold a more negative view of themselves, suggesting they pick on others to feel better about themselves, and they may especially single out those who have trouble fitting in for other reasons.
- Bullies that had the most hostility reported picking on kids because those kids were not good at sports
- Perhaps most interesting in this study, the most frequent bullying involved picking on students they perceived to be gay or lesbian. This actually matches data from another study as well.
Ian Rivers, one of the researches for this study, who works at Brunel University in the United Kingdom sheds some more light on the results of this study and the conclusions it may offer:
While [bullies] may well be very sensitive about any differences or any failings that they have, they may also be setting themselves up so that they victimize those who have failings that are more challenged in society, that are perhaps perceived to be more problematic, such as being gay, such as being poor at sports, such as not being good at school work. This is something that is really important for teachers and administrators to know: What are the hot spots, what are the issues that we need to address in terms of making schools safe. If the issue is that kids are being bullied because they’re poor at sports, then maybe we take the school emphasis away from sports.
By studying the psych of the bully, this kind of research might help victims, school administration, and witnesses learn to both cope with and identify bullies prior to a problem escalating.
Information presented in this blog article can be found on the MSNB site by clicking here.