When people think about bullies, their mind tends to revert to images of some big kid on the playground taking someone’s lunch money. Or perhaps they envision high school jocks stuffing the non-athletic geeky kid into a locker. These are the images we’ve been conditioned with throughout popular culture. Although some instances of bullying do indeed resemble this familiar narrative, the vast majority of bullies that our children face in school today do not fit this stereotypical mold
Who are the bullies?
The truth is, there is no stereotypical bully. Bullies are unique individuals who do what they do according to their own unique mixture of traits, motivations, and insecurities. That said, they do tend to broadly share certain categorical behaviors. This information will help you understand bully psychology so that you can better understand what motivates a bully’s behavior. Because knowing what makes bullies tick is an important step in addressing any sort of bullying problem.
Types of bullies
Psychologists tend to describe bullies according to 4 separate bully categories:
1. The Aggressive Bully: Aggressive bullies are individuals who initiate hostility and often have a low tolerance towards frustration and a need or desire to dominate others. Read more on aggressive bullies.
2. The Passive Bully: Passive bullies could also be described as opportunistic bullies. They may not actively instigate the aggression, but they willingly jump on the bandwagon whenever other kids are being harassed. Read more about passive-opportunistic bullies.
3. The Bully-Victim: This is someone who is both a victim of bullying and a bully themselves. They are often targeted by their peers, and they deal with this by finding ways to retaliate against others and bullying those who are beneath them. Read more about the bully-victim.
4. The Relational Bully: Relational bullies are those who use bullying behaviors as a means of gaining social status and power. Like a game of survivor, it’s all about manipulating others to elevate themselves. These bullies engage in behavior that is very cold and calculating. Relational bullies are the most common type of bully among girls, though boys can engage in these tactics too. Read more about relational bullies.
We’ll also devote a section to two other subtypes of bullies in this chapter.
1. Popular Bullies: These are youth who are highly admired by peers but are also socially aggressive and tend to be narcissistic. As we’ll discuss, however, not all popularity is the same. Read more about popular bullies.
2. Girl Bullies: How do girl bullies differ from boy bullies? This section explores the current state of female bullying.
3. Teacher Bullies: Learn how teachers get caught up in bullying & end up bullying students either intentionally or inadvertently.