Boys Who Bully: What, When, Where, Why, and How

Bullying is the most frequently occurring form of violence in American schools. Just about everyone has known a bully at school, but until the recent epidemic of school violence, few adults took bullying seriously. Since then, researchers, educators, administrators, and parents have been taking a close look at bullying and its effects on children.

Many elementary through high school students experience bullying and other kinds of social violence daily. Bullying statistics show that as many as half of all children are bullied at some point in a school year, and at least ten percent are bullied regularly (see In addition, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, bullying is the biggest school problem for kids ages eight to fifteen, surpassing even alcohol, drugs, racism, and premarital sex.

What Is Teasing?

Teasing is usually playful, and the kids involved are most often of the same social status, so there is no imbalance of power. Teasing includes occasional peer conflict-often unintentional. Kids who tease are willing to work together to resolve the conflict.

What Is Bullying?

Most experts agree that bullying has the following characteristics:

It may be difficult for you to figure out whether your child is exaggerating harmless teasing. To learn how well you can recognize the differences between bullying and teasing, take EduGuide's quiz "Is He Teasing or Bullying?"

Look for the following evidence if you suspect your son is a victim of bullying:

Any one of these behaviors by itself may not be cause for alarm. But several of them combined could signal that your son needs your help, so start asking him some questions. Left unchecked, boys who are bullied over time can suffer serious problems throughout their lives.

Why Do Boys Bully?

How Do Boys Bully?

Boys often bully physically. They may punch, kick, push, or tickle excessively. Bullying may also include the following behaviors:

Who Are the Bullies? Who Are the Victims?

Many parents think they can spot bullies easily, but that's not always true. Bullies come from all types of homes, ethnic and racial groups, and economic backgrounds. Even boys known as "good boys" can be part of a bullying pack. Boys who stand by quietly and go along with a bully simply build up the bully's power by making it seem that the bully has support all around him. This makes the victim feel as if everyone is against him.

Like bullies, victims come from all types of backgrounds. Victims of bullies often suffer from low self-esteem and may be self-conscious about their appearance. Many victims lack adequate social skills and the ability to communicate well. Many are also sensitive or cry easily.

Outcomes of Bullying

Fear of a bully and embarrassment at being bullied may keep a victim from telling a parent or teacher about the situation. And unfortunately, too many school personnel excuse bullying as "boys being boys." They may blame the victims of bullying because victims cry too easily or are overly sensitive.

Victims of bullying can suffer serious long-term effects if bullying persists. Here are just some possible consequences of bullying: