Why do some people enjoy bullying

There are different reasons why people bully, including:

  • wanting to dominate others and improve their social status
  • having low self-esteem
  • having a lack of remorse or failing to recognise their behaviour as a problem
  • feeling angry or frustrated
  • struggling socially
  • being the victim of bullying themselves

Some people who bully are tough and strong. Other bullies might be popular but thoughtless, rather than deliberately hurtful. Bullies are more likely to have lifelong issues such as depression or problems with aggression. But early treatment can prevent this from happening.

Some children who bully may enjoy getting their own way. Others may like conflict and aggression. Some may have difficulties with health, schoolwork and self-esteem. And some may be emotionally neglected, bullied, abused or be experiencing violence themselves.

Children can take on different roles in different circumstances. Those who are bullied in one situation may be the bully in another.

More information


Bullying No Way!(What is bullying?), Australian Human Rights Commission(What is bullying?: Violence, Harassment and Bullying Fact Sheet), Fair Work Commission(Anti-bullying), Raising Children(Bullying - How to spot the signs), beyondblue(Bullying and cyberbullying), Australian Institute of Family Studies(Children who bully at school)

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Last reviewed: February 2018

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