Understanding Bullying

Bullying is a distinctive pattern of deliberately harming and humiliating others. It's a very durable behavioral style, largely because bullies get what they want—at least at first. Bullies are made, not born, and it happens at an early age, if the normal aggression of two-year-olds isn't handled well.

Bullies couldn't exist without victims, and they don't pick on just anyone; those singled out lack assertiveness and radiate fear long before they ever encounter a bully. No one likes a bully, but no one likes a victim either. Grown-up bullies wreak havoc in their relationships and in the workplace.

Many experts believe that bullying behavior is on the rise because children increasingly grow up without the kinds of experiences that lead to the development of social skills. It has been well-documented that free play is on the decline, but it is in playing with peers, without adult monitoring, that children develop the skills that make them well-liked by agemates and learn how to solve social problems.

Recent Posts on Bullying

"Bullying Fiction" Top Picks

Dysfunctional behaviors (including cutting and eating disorders) are often linked to social cruelty.

Why Are People with Disabilities the Targets of Violence?

Why do offenders target people with disabilities? Are there links between types of disability and type of victimization? The Data Doctor answers a question from the aunt of a former student.

Will Kennedy LeRoy’s Suicide Have Been in Vain?

By Izzy Kalman on June 25, 2015 in Resilience to Bullying
I recently suggested that our anti-bullying efforts are failing LGBTQ kids. The truth is that they are failing all bullied kids. Sixteen-year-old Kennedy LeRoy committed suicide in the hope of preventing other bullied kids from doing the same. But the suicides won't cease until we stop trying to protect kids from bullying and start teaching them to handle it on their own.

The Impact of Cyberbullying: 3 Strategies to Help

Cyberbullying is a general term used to describe a form of bullying that takes place via electronic technology, such as blogs, chat rooms, emails, and other social media sites. It’s such a devastating form of bullying because it can happen literally at any time—24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Your Old School-Days Bully Wants to Friend You

On the one hand, you can finally have your voice heard, even dish back a moment of—pain? Doubt? Regret? Humility? (while reminding him or her what a little shit s/he was). On the other hand, what’s the point? Reminding them of their cruelties may feel good, in the moment, but after hitting “Send” are you really able to move on? What is it you want?

Dylann Roof—Evil or Ill?

How to think about the Charleston killings and Dylann Roof

Are We Shortchanging LGBTQ Youth?

By Izzy Kalman on June 17, 2015 in Resilience to Bullying
The news continues to bring us tragic stories of LGBTQ kids–even ones who attend LGBTQ support centers–committing suicide because they can no longer tolerate being bullied. Perhaps its because these kids are not being taught resilience. If we truly want to be helping LGBTQ kids, here are some messages we need to be giving them.

Ask the Data Doctor

Sorting through science have you feeling achy and blue? Let the Data Doctor decipher the data for you. I help researchers, practitioners, students, and policy makers make sense of science on violence, victimization, resilience, and related psychological topics.

ISIS and the Victim Mentality

By Izzy Kalman on June 08, 2015 in Resilience to Bullying
The mass murders committed by ISIS are widely called incomprehensible. But mass murder has been around since the beginning of mankind. Shouldn't psychology be able to comprehend such a common phenomenon? It can, indeed, make sense of it. However, it requires abandoning the popular anti-bully model of social life and recognize the role of the victim mentality.

How 4th Grade Predicts Your Future

By Mitch Prinstein Ph.D. on June 07, 2015 in The Modern Teen
Recent research reveals remarkably strong links between the way you got along with your peers in elementary school and a wide range of outcomes in adulthood. Can your health, your happiness, your salary, your insecurities, and your relationships all be traced back to what happened to you on the playground in grade school?

What Trolls Don't Know About Children's Mental Illness

By Liza Long on June 04, 2015 in The Accidental Advocate
The Internet has made experts of all of us. But when your child is suffering from a mental illness, the "obvious" causes aren't always so obvious. Let’s all stop to think, just for a minute, before making a potentially hateful and hurtful comment about an issue that might be more complex than it appears at first glance.

How Can We End Bullying?

By Romeo Vitelli Ph.D. on June 01, 2015 in Media Spotlight
A new review article published in American Psychologist tackles the thorny question of what actual works in bullying prevention programs. Written by Catherine P. Bradshaw of the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education, the article examines recent research evaluating the effectiveness of anti-bullying programs and makes some recommendations for the future.

Mommy Cliques: 7 Ways to Beat Being Outside the 'In' Group

When my son was a toddler I signed him up for a “gymnastics” group, hoping not only to use up some of his energy, but to find some friends for myself. Instead, I found that there was an "in" group of moms and kids -- and we were definitely on the outside. I felt like a third grader again. If you've ever been in this situation, you'll like these psychologically savvy ideas.

Preview of Talking to Crazy

Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life. Know any of them?

The Sad Case of The Duggars

How The Duggars Situation Contributed To Sex Abuse

People Who Say “I Hate Game Playing” Play Them

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on May 19, 2015 in Ambigamy
Hate game playing? Hate it enough to wonder what's really behind it? If so read on.

Friends or Frenemies? Understanding Bullying in Schools

When kids and parents improperly classify rudeness and mean behavior as bullying, we all run the risk of becoming so sick and tired of hearing the word that this critical safety issue among young people loses its urgency as quickly as it rose to prominence.

5 Ways to Stop Beating Yourself Up

No one is perfect; even the best and brightest make mistakes. Don't dwell on your failures, instead learn from them and move on. Negative self-talk and worrying about what others say can zap the energy you need to become your better you. Silence the inner bully that persistently goads you to hurt and neglect yourself, in the interests of becoming the best you can be.

Finally! An Internet Response to Cyber-bullying

"HeartMob" will provide an on-line platform for reporting cyber-cruelty.

Does Reading Harry Potter Books Reduce Prejudice?

According to a recent study, young people who identify with Harry Potter are less likely to be prejudiced against minority groups.

How Bullying Changes Your Life’s Course If You're LGBTQ

This happens across the board in many different socio-economic groups, but it particularly pronounced among those who identify as gay, lesbian, transgendered, queer or bisexual (LGBTQ).

Bullying Hurts Everyone, Even Bystanders

A vast majority of teens are called homophobic names in middle and high school. This name-calling is not the result of kids being kids. It is bullying, and it harms everyone.

How Not to Be Boring: Advice for Teen Introverts

By Sophia Dembling on April 22, 2015 in The Introvert's Corner
Teens crave and seem to admire risk taking. What can introverted teens do to scratch that itch?

Four Ways that Online Harassment Can Be Upsetting for Youth

By Michele Ybarra MPH, Ph.D. on April 21, 2015 in Connected
What factors make some incidences of online harassment more upsetting to youth than others? While most Internet-using youth do not get harassed online, a fraction of youth harassed online are upset by the experience. Knowing what to look for can help us assist youth in need.

3 Reasons Any of Us Can Blow Up, at Anyone

We all have thoughts and impulses that are horrific if acted upon. Keeping our impulsive behaviors in check is one of the most important and hardest things we have to do in life. And if you add extreme frustration, anger, or alcohol it becomes that much harder to control this more ugly side of all of us.

Check Your Weapons at the Door

Forget nukes - our words can be the most dangerous of all.

We’ve Been Warned!

By Renee Garfinkel Ph.D. on April 19, 2015 in Time Out
The precursors of group violence, terrorism and even genocide have been identified. Despite extreme cultural and religious differences between the terrorist of Oklahoma City and 9/11 - they emerged from ideologically similar muck that continues to produce horrific mass murderers internationally. We hate to face it, but we must.

"Burn Book": An App for Bullying

For those over 30, or without teenage children, the term “Burn Book” may have no meaning. 0thers will recognize it as the iconic Treasury of Nastiness from the movie Mean Girls. Now it has become an app—one that enables anonymous bullying in specific, selected communities:

Why do we like our bully boss?

By Eyal Winter on April 18, 2015 in Feeling Smart
Check if you have a Stockholm Bias toward your Bully Boss.

Cyberbullying? There’s an App for That

In the 2004 teen comedy “Mean Girls,” a central plot point is a notebook filled with vicious rumors and gossip — the “Burn Book,” it is called. Now the concept has been taken into the social media age with the “Burnbook” app.