The Truth About Bullies

There are a lot of myths about bullies, and parents and teachers need to understand the realities in order to protect children from bullying. So here they are- the myths and the facts.

Myth: Most bullies are boys.

Fact: Girls are bullies too. They just bully in different ways. While boys may be physical in their bullying, girls do more name-calling. They also exclude targeting children from activities and friendships. This type of bullying can be just as harmful as the more physical type of bullying we see from boys.

Myth: It’s better to let kids work things out on their own.

Fact: Adults need to intervene. They need to send a message that bullying is not OK, and they need to protect children who are targets of bullies. Children need to be taught how to respond if they are bullied, and how to respond if they witness other kids being bullied, but they need to be able to turn to adults for assistance, and adults need to be willing to provide assistance.

Myth: Bullies have low self-esteem and that’s why they bully other kids.

Fact: Some bullies have low self-esteem and some don’t. Low self-esteem is not the only reason kids bully others. Sometimes it is a learned behavior that they have learned at home. Sometimes it is a response to feeling out of control in their lives due to various circumstances. Low self-esteem is only one of many reasons a child might be a bully.

Myth: Bullying is not a significant problem. It happens, but not that often.

Fact: Bullying is a significant problem. More than 75% of all students report being involved in at least one episode of bullying.

Myth: The best way to deal with bullies is to ignore them.

Fact: Kids should be taught that one way to cope with being bullied is to ignore the bully. However, that does not always solve the problem. Children also need to be taught how to respond assertively to bullying. And adults should never ignore the problem.

Myth: Bullying does not really hurt most kids. Some do have bad reactions to it, but most are OK.

Fact: Bullying can have significant negative effects for children. Many children experience significant levels of stress when they are bullied. Bullying can contribute to childhood depression and anxiety disorders, poor grades in school, and behavioral problems.

Myth: There’s not much that can be done about bullies.

Fact: There is lots that can be done. Children can be taught to respond assertively if they are bullied and if they witness another child being bullied. Adults can intervene when they are made aware of bullying incidents. Bullies can be provided with anger management programs, social skills training, or whatever educational services they need in order to improve their behavior.