Bullying can arise from distrust, fear, misunderstanding, lack of knowledge or jealousy. People who bully others are often motivated by the status and social power they can achieve through bullying. Some may bully others to compensate for what is happening to them and their own feelings of powerlessness. All individuals have the potential to bully others or to be bullied. However, some individuals persistently bully others for a range of reasons and in a range of contexts.
Research has found that young people most commonly suggest the reason for bullying at school is enhancing social status within the peer group. Social status and belonging to their peer group are increasingly important to most children and young people from the middle years of school into adolescence. In the process of forming a friendship group, bullying can be used to strengthen the group by excluding those who are not part of it. A school's social environment can unintentionally create a rigid social hierarchy for students, which can lead to bullying. Students sometimes report that the student leadership structures and roles actually promote bullying. Research into the views of students suggests that those who bully others may appear to be popular but are not always liked. Students also sometimes think that those who do the bullying have personal problems.
In addition, young people identify that bullying happens to some students more often because they are considered different, odd or unusual in some way. Any characteristic that makes a child stand out or sets a child apart from the peer group or “social norms” places them at greater risk of being bullied. It is sometimes focused on students' personal attributes such as weight, ability, wealth, race, culture, gender, religion and sexuality. Students who stand out because of these attributes are more likely to be targeted for bullying.
A student can bully another person because they:
- don't like the person
- find bullying fun
- like to feel tough, strong and in control
- think it will make them popular
- get a reaction they like
Finally, if nothing is done by the school in response to a report of bullying, this sends a message to students that bullying is acceptable. Appropriate and prompt responses to bullying can ensure a clear message that bullying is never okay and can stop it escalating. /p>
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