Here's why people bully (@tai_thebully), why victims of bullying often suffer in silence


Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a psychotherapist, international bestselling author and host of the The Verywell Mind Podcast.

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When kids are victimized by a bully, there are often significant personal consequences including feelings of isolation và humiliation. And yet, many kids who are targeted don"t tell anyone about the bullying.


The reasons for remaining silent are many và vary from person to person, but bullying is often scary and confusing, especially at first. This fact leaves most tweens và teens unsure of how to handle the situation. Many will keep bullying incidents lớn themselves while they try to figure out what they"re going to lớn do.

In fact, one report found that 64% of students who were bullied never told anyone about it. Even when injuries occurred, 40% of bullied students still never reported the incident. Here are a few reasons why kids may be hesitant khổng lồ disclose that they are being bullied.

Shame and Embarrassment

Bullying is about power and control and being targeted can cause kids tofeel powerless or weak. For many kids, this creates feelings of intense shame và embarrassment. If a kid is being bullied because of something they are already sensitive about like a physical attribute or an accusation about something they did, they will often be too embarrassed khổng lồ talk about it.

To talk about the bullying would require them lớn highlight their "defect" to lớn others. For some kids, the thought of bringing up the issue lớn an adult is worse than the bullying itself.

One survey found that 44% of students felt they were bullied because of the way they look & 16% felt they were targeted because of their race. Meanwhile, 14% of students felt they were bullied because students thought they were gay, 12% felt they were singled out because of being poor, & 7% felt they were bullied because of their disability. All of these scenartiện ích ios are ones that kids are usually sensitive sầu about and don"t want to lớn discuss.

Fear of Retaliation

Often, kids feel lượt thích reporting a bully won’t vì any good. Not only do they feel powerless, but they also worry that the bully will only make their lives worse if they speak up. In fact, 40% of kids who are bullied report that the people who targeted them were bigger and physically stronger, while 56% report that those bullying them had the ability to lớn influence other students" perceptions of them.

Many kids would rather try lớn weather the storm alone than risk escalating the problem. Sometimes, they even believe sầu that if they keep quiet, the bullying will eventually over. If they do talk to lớn an adult, it is often with the promise that they will not report the incidents or bởi vì anything about it.

Worry About Making It Worse

When you discover your child is being bullied, it"s natural to lớn respond with the desire khổng lồ do something right away. But your tendency toward jumping in to fix problems may be the very reason why your kid hesitates lớn get you involved. Kids may fear parents will make a scene. To mitigate your kid"s potential worry, it"s important to lớn temper your immediate reaction và not jump inkhổng lồ action, particularly when it comes khổng lồ contacting their school or other involved parties.

Ask them how they want khổng lồ handle the situation và what they want you to lớn vị. If they prefer that you not say anything, honor their request. Unless the law is being broken, you need khổng lồ let things progress at a rate that is comfortable for your child. Don"t be the parent who posts on social truyền thông media, calls the bully"s parents, or causes a scene at the school. Doing so just compounds the situation for your child so now they must deal with the bullying và being the whose parent caused a scene.

Desire for Acceptance

Many times, kids feel like they need khổng lồ accept occasional bullying in order lớn belong. As a result, they will succumb to peer pressure và accept bullying as a way to lớn maintain their social standing. This mixture of peer pressure and bullying often exists in cliques.

Kids who are victimized often yearn for acceptance from the very people who are bullying them. In order to lớn remain part of the group, they may tolerate fake friendships & mean behavior—especially if the person bullying them has a higher social standing than they bởi. In fact, 50% of students who are bullied ages 12 to lớn 18 report that the people who bullied them have more social influence và 31% indicate that they also had more money.

Concern About Being Believed

Many times, bullies are the kids that teachers và parents would least suspect—the ones who are popular, bởi vì well in school, or have sầu a high social standing in the community. Consequently, when these kids single out someone who is in trouble a lot, prone to lớn storytelling, or has disciplinary issues, it is natural for the student being bullied to assume no one will believe them.

These kids are generally very aware of the fact that they are sometimes in trouble, & they are afraid that others will assume that they are lying or making it up. They may keep quiet because they believe sầu opening up would not vị any good—no one would believe sầu them over this other, highly-favored student.

Worry About "Snitching"

Most bullying incidents occur when adults are not around such as in staircases, dark hallways, bathrooms, and locker rooms. In order to get help, the person being bullied either needs lớn tell someone or hope that a bystander reports the incident. Because no one wants to lớn be labeled a rat or a tattletale, bullying frequently goes unreported. There is often this unspoken code of secrecy about the bullying; and as long as this code is in place, the bullying will continue.

Victims of bullying are often more afraid of being called a tattletale, a baby, a rat, or a snitch than they are about enduring more abuse, so they keep quiet.

In order to change this culture of secrecy around bullying, educators need to lớn make sure they create an environment where reporting bullying is not only acceptable but expected. This also means that they need khổng lồ be careful about how they handle reports of bullying including how they interact with students who report being harassed và mistreated.

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Low Self-Esteem

Kids are often very aware of their faults. As a result, if someone zeroes in on one of those faults và uses it lớn taunt and tease them, many kids will automatically assume that they deserve the treatment. When a kid is overly self-critical or lacks self-esteem, they may find that they buy into the bully"s taunts and, as a result, accept the poor treatment.

Failure khổng lồ Recognize Bullying

Physical bullying is easy to lớn recognize & therefore more likely to be reported. More subtle forms of bullying like relational aggression, on the other hvà, are likely lớn go unlabeled và unreported. Kids may not realize that spreading rumors, ostracizing others, and sabotaging relationships are also forms of bullying.

For this reason, it"s important that parents và educators talk to kids about what constitutes bullying. Make sure your kids know that healthy friendships & relationships involve sầu mutual respect and tư vấn. Even subtle behaviors like teasing can morph into lớn bullying.

Thinking It Won't Help

Despite all the progress with bullying prevention, there still is the underlying message that kids need to lớn be tough during difficult situations. Many assume that adults won"t help and/or fear that the adults in their lives will think poorly of them or be angry about the abuse they are experiencing. They may believe that adults expect them to handle the situation on their own.

Consequently, as kids get older, fewer và fewer report the bullying incidents they experience with only 39% of bullied high school students reporting the harassment và bullying they are experiencing.

Additionally, many schools fail khổng lồ distinguish the difference between tattling & reporting. Instead, because they are busy trying lớn meet academic goals, they would prefer not lớn be bothered by bullying and encourage kids khổng lồ handle all problems on their own. This can be especially troublesome if kids try to lớn khuyến mãi with potentially violent situations on their own.

Not Knowing How khổng lồ Report

In cases involving cyberbullying, the person doing the bullying is often anonymous or unknown, so kids often don"t know if reporting bullying will help make it stop. They also aren"t sure how to report the bullying online through social media apps và mạng internet service providers.

More than a quarter of the time, kids who are cyberbullied don"t report the bullying or they assume there is nothing they can vày about the online incidents.

Parents và educators need to lớn teach kids how khổng lồ effectively address and prevent cyberbullying including showing them how to lớn report people who troll or cyberbully them. They also should talk to kids about blocking people online và utilizing privacy & security settings when using social truyền thông media apps, games, và other online sites.

Fear of Losing Digital Access

When it comes to lớn cyberbullying, most kids won’t admit they are being targeted because they are afraid their parents or teachers won’t allow them to lớn use their electronic devices any longer.

If adults take away kids" access lớn computers or cell phones because they were bullied, this sends two messages: First, telling an adult is not worth it, and second, they are khổng lồ blame because they are being punished.

Instead, addressing cyberbullying should involve keeping copies of the correspondence, blocking the offender, changing passwords or telephone numbers, & reporting the cyberbully. Try to increase your kid"s safety and security online rather than taking away their giải pháp công nghệ. Social media, texting, và gaming are the primary ways in which kids connect lớn others. Restricting công nghệ or taking away their phone only isolates them more.

A Word From Verywell

Because kids rarely tell an adult when they experience bullying, it"s important that parents, teachers, & other caregivers are aware of the warning signs of bullying. For instance, kids may allude to bullying by saying there is a lot of drama at school, that kids are messing with them, or that they have no friends. These are all signs that they are experiencing one of the types of bullying.

If your kids confess to lớn being a target, tell them you are proud of them for having the courage to talk about it. This reinforces that you value having an open dialogue about issues in their lives. It’s also important that you believe what your kids tell you và that you make a commitment lớn work with them to lớn find solutions.

Also, keep your emotions in check. Getting upphối, angry, or emotional will only áp lực out your child. Instead, remain calm and work together to lớn make a plan. When kids feel lượt thích they have options, they are less likely lớn be overcome by negative feelings & emotions. Help your child find ways lớn respond to and overcome bullying.

Verywell Family uses only high-unique sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to tư vấn the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-kiểm tra and keep our nội dung accurate, reliable, và trustworthy.

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