Common Characteristics of a Bully

There are many reasons why a teen might turn into a bully.
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While some bullies become evident at a young age, others don't emerge until the teenage years. And sometimes, even good kids turn into bullies. Here are some of the most common characteristics and risk factors behind teenage bullies.

Common Characteristics of Children Who Bully

  • Impulsive
  • Anger management problems
  • Tries to control other people, rather than inspiring others to follow
  • Easily frustrated and annoyed
  • Lacks empathy, isn't sympathetic to anyone's needs or desires but their own
  • Blames a victim for his own behavior by saying things like, "If that geek didn't look so stupid, I wouldn't have to hit him."
  • Difficulty following rules and little respect for authority
  • View violence in a positive way, such as a form of entertainment or a good way to get needs met
  • Boys who bully tend to be physically stronger than other children
  • Girls who bully tend to be perceived as popular

Family Risk Factors for Bullying

There is no single cause of bullying among children. A host of different factors can place a child at risk for bullying his or her peers. However, it has been found that children who bully are more likely than their non-bullying peers to come from homes with certain characteristics. Here are some common family risk factors for bullying:

  • A lack of warmth and involvement on the part of parents. This can be because of a single parent environment where the parent is not at home or is too tired or apathetic when they are at home. A lack of warmth is common in a home with parents.
  • Overly permissive parenting (including a lack of limits for children's behavior). This is where many of the children who feel entitled fit in as bullies. These parents are more worried about how they will be perceived or if their child will get angry with them to correct aggressive and violent behavior.
  • A lack of supervision by parents. Children and teens need supervision as it gives them a firm foundation of discipline. Without it, their world is in chaos and they will act out, sometimes with aggression as in the case of a bully.
  • Harsh, physical discipline, often boarding on abusive.
  • Bullying incidences at home where they are in fights with siblings or the teen is abusive to a parent.

Bullying and Other Violent and/or Antisocial Behaviors

Bullying can stem from underlying psychological issues. Mental health issues, such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder or Conduct Disorder may be at the root of the issue. Other teens begin to bully after they've been abused or experienced a traumatic event.

Children who frequently bully their peers are more likely than others to:

  • Get into frequent fights
  • Be injured in a fight
  • Vandalize or steal property
  • Drink alcohol
  • Smoke
  • Be truant from school
  • Drop out of school
  • Carry a weapon

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