The new bully: an evolution into a self-esteem, attention seeker
JEFFERSON CITY —
Research over the last 10 years found bullies have evolved from the low self-esteem insecure children and teenagers. Experts found bullies actually have normal to high-self esteem.
"There isn't a profile for a who a bully comes from, but there are some personality characteristics. We used to think bullies felt inferior to others especially in children and teens, that they didn't feel as good as others, but in the last ten years, research has brought forward that actually kids who bully now have pretty good self esteem," SSM Health Psychologist, Dr. Laurel Kramer said.
Kramer said there are four reasons a child bullies.
The first reason is because kids and teens crave attention.
"If they're frustrated that they're not getting that attention in a positive way, then they'll act out in a negative way to get that attention," Kramer said.
She said the second reason a child bullies is because the bully wants to have more power in the situation.
"They bully to gain control of the situation and thereby drive it the way they want to and that helps them feel more powerful in that situation,' Kramer said.
Research has found the third reason a child bullies is because the bully is afraid.
"They don't have good social skills. Sometimes they're with older kids and don't know how to act with those kids," Kramer added.
Kramer said the fourth and final reason a child bullies is because they feel it is the best way to get away from someone.
"Whether that person is bullying them or they're feeling overwhelmed with the situation and need to get out of it, so they'll bully verbally or physically just to get out of the situation," she said.
Kramer also said if parents do not properly teach strong willed children to have compassion, a bully can emerge.
"Those children that are born with more aggressive tendencies tend to act out, tend to be more active whether that's verbally or physically. They could tend to become more bullies," Kramer said.
However, she said if a child is taught to take the strong social skills and turn them into a leadership skill, they can turn their strong traits into more pro-social behaviors.
"For example, I have a neighbor who has a daughter in grade school and I've been blessed to be part of her life since this child was born. She was born with a strong personality and as I saw her go through pre-school she was very verbal, very outspoken, she was very demanding about what she wanted. I used to joke with my friend about how she would probably take charge of everything in elementary school. We wondered if she would bully," Kramer said.
Kramer said with the help of positive role models the young girl is instead a leader.
"Now she's 10 to 12 years old, and she's not a bully at all. What these parents taught her was how to be kind to others, how to care about how her behavior affected others, and she is actually a leader in the classroom. Instead of picking on children, she stands up for the kids that are being bullied," Kramer said. "We actually can change how these personality traits that we are born with play out in the real world. These are important behaviors to treat our children," Kramer added.