Psychological Development Across the Lifespan

School Age Children (6–11)

Why do kids bully?

Psychology has traditionally had a rather idealistic view of social life, assuming that aggression in children was a manifestation of some sort of psychopathology. Unfortunately, psychology has proven itself rather naïve in this regard. Current research has now caught up with Hollywood and television, showing that childhood aggression is often socially rewarded. While some aggressive children are maladjusted, emotionally troubled, and disliked by their peers, other children use aggression quite effectively to gain social status. Boys are more likely than girls to bully other children, using verbal and physical aggression. However, girls are still capable of using relational aggression, or social ostracism, to enhance their own status within a group.

With time, however, children who bully fall out of favor, alienating other children with their cruelty. As bullying is a common behavior among children—by some estimates 10 to 20 percent of children are bullies—the most effective means to reduce bullying is to promote a culture in which bullying is neither condoned nor tolerated.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Psychology Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App