Bullies aren’t just bad kids or evil people. There are many causes of bullying that might surprise you.

I was bullied in school, so bad that I developed psychological issues. At one point, it was so bad that I couldn’t even stay in school for more than 2 hours a day. My father would take me to school and just wait in the parking lot for those hours and take me back home.

Eventually, I was able to gain a bit of normalcy and return to a normal routine. Unfortunately, no one in my family, back then, searched for the reasons I was bullied. Later on, I bullied a few people myself.  You can probably clearly see the cause and effect here, right?

There Are Reasons Children Hurt Other Children

I think there are few truly evil people in this world. Yes, there are those who commit evil deeds, but most of the time, there’s a history or explanation for the way they act.

This is true for bullying. There are several causes of bullying which explain why children tease and torment other children. To stop this behavior, we have to understand the roots of it.

7 Most Common Causes That Give Bullying a Start

1. Sibling rivalry

I have two boys that are about two years apart in age. They fought viciously up until sometime in primary school. I did punish them for fighting, but what I didn’t realize was where they were taking their attitudes when they entered school. Their sibling rivalry had turned into bullying. Instead of fighting each other in school, they were mistreating other children.

Children who fight at home tend to take out their frustrations on other children at school. This is because they usually don’t have access to their siblings long enough to continue the feud. Pay close attention to your children when they are fighting at home. This could be one of the causes of school bullying.

2. Cliques of social circles

I never liked cliques because they developed circles that excluded others. Although if you asked a member of a social circle if they excluded anyone, they would say no. This is not true. Cliques exclude those who are different and they bully them as well.

In the ’90s, when I was in high school, you could clearly see groups of people, almost forming circles when they socialized. In classrooms, even some of them turned their desks to face the other members of their social circle.

If you happen to be a loner or part of a smaller circle of “undesirables”, you would be bullied by the larger circles. Cliques shouldn’t happen. Instead, we should all strive to include each other and our differences.

3. Jealousy

This cause of bullying may surprise you. Jealousy of what someone looks like or what they have can cause severe anger problems. This can lead to bullying.

You see, the jealous person figures if they can bring someone down to a lower level or somehow take something away from the target, they won’t feel so jealous of them anymore.

Bullying in this case usually takes the form of telling lies, teasing or actually turning to physical ways to downgrade the person who makes them jealous.

I was also a bully a few times in high school because of a popular girl who always got the attention. I was jealous of that attention. Needless to say, I turned to mean behaviors in order to mar her beauty. I will leave it at that.

4. Boredom

Out of just plain boredom, some children turn to bully others. It seems like they could find something better to do than mistreat someone or cause pain, but they don’t.

I’ve actually witnessed a boy walk up and kick another boy for no reason, then he laughed and walked away. He kicked this boy every day until the boy fought back. But, it didn’t stop the bully at all.

Finally, a teacher stopped the ordeal. I was always astonished by how long it took school authorities to see and stop this sort of behavior.

5. Low self-esteem

If you have low self-esteem, you are more prone to bully others, although not everyone does this. Some children, when feeling unworthy, turn to cruel acts in order to elevate the way they feel about themselves.

It seems bullying makes them feel like a stronger person. They sometimes do this in order to be accepted by the “in” crowd. Sometimes it actually works.

6. Upbringing

Much bullying behavior comes from intolerance, judgment, and criticism of others. This starts at home. Racial intolerance at home is a common cause of bullying in school. Judgemental statements in the home also prove to be causes of bullying at school.

It’s a horrible sight to see children mistreating each other because of the color of their skin, the way they dress or where they come from. We must continue to change the way we raise our children in order to stop this process.

7. Gaining power

Some bullies simply love the power they have over other children. Remember watching television shows where one child had to give up his lunch money or pay a toll to get by on the street. That’s a power play that some bullies use. If they do it once, it will empower them to continue their behavior every day.

Let’s Continue Putting a Stop to Bullying!

One thing that I haven’t touched upon is cyber-bullying, which is very real. This sort of bullying has become just as bad or worse than the physical kind. When using online resources to bully other people, you can actually become anonymous and wreak havoc all you want. This is a truly troubling fact.

I was bullied physically and online, and I also bullied a few people myself. I remember how I was bullied so much that I searched out another child and bullied them to take the spotlight off myself. Yes, it was really that bad in my time during school.

Many of you remember those days in school, and you were either on one side of the mistreatment or the other… or like me, you did both.

Let’s change this. Let’s create a world where our children can feel safe. Let’s end bullying for good!


  1. https://www.stopbullying.gov
  2. https://medlineplus.gov

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Roxanna Creitz

    Thank you for this article which applies so greatly to the state of our nation at this moment! If you haven’t read it already, I suggest Lenore E. Walker’s THE BATTERED WOMAN…particularly the first chapter, where she lists nine common characteristics of batterers (and also nine common characteristics of those who accept battering). Note that both lists include low self-esteem. They don’t include–but I believe they should–lack of negotiation skills. I hope you will find this info useful. As a survivor and a cultural anthropology major, I have found it so. Also, there’s GETTING TO YES by William Ury and Roger Fisher, through Harvard’s Program on Negotiation. An expansion of win-win negotiation is in THE 8TH HABIT by Stephen R. Covey.
    Thanks again! I’m taking your list of causes to my Zoom P.E.O. meeting where the program is on racial bias.

  2. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.


    It is interesting that both groups include low-self-esteem. There’s something we could work on there. When there is a commonality like this, and it’s revealed to both sides of a situation, seems as though we could bridge that and stop the violence. Unfortunately, there is such a lack of healthy communication and everyone is screaming or saying nothing, this would take extensive work.

    And there are so many other issues we need to deal with too. When we’re strong, we’re ‘crazy feminists’, when we try to fight against objectification or sexualization, were considered to be going too far, or the things we fight against really don’t matter. I am a survivor too of so many things, and I usually don’t get taken seriously by the majority. I am a woman, but yet my gender is used so much to promote some of the vilest images, the cruelest jokes, and the belief that women are stupid. There is bullying in so many places. You wouldn’t imagine.

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