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Young Bullies seek power, status, and affection.

A new study from the Netherlands published in the March/April 2010 issue of the journal Child Development looks at underlying reasons that children bully their  peers. They studied about 500 elementary school children aged 9

to 12 and found that the reason that they bully their peers is to gain power and status by dominating their victims. But they care about being liked by others and that is why they choose victims who are weaker and less well-liked by their peers. Interestingly, these bullies care about the opinion of peers of their own gender, but not of the other. The study also found that about 15% of children were bullies.  This study counters the widely held belief that bullies are insecure people with low self-esteem.

Journal Reference:

  1. René Veenstra, Siegwart Lindenberg, Anke Munniksma, Jan Kornelis Dijkstra. The Complex Relation Between Bullying, Victimization, Acceptance, and Rejection: Giving Special Attention to Status, Affection, and Sex Differences. Child Development, 2010; 81 (2): 480 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01411.x