Health

Study: Bullies Have High Self-Esteem, Social Status

| by Michael Allen

It's often been said that bullies have low-self esteem, but a new Canadian study by researchers at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, found just the opposite.

Jennifer Wong, a criminology professor, and student Jun-Bin Koh studied 135 teens from a high school in Vancouver.

The bullies represented about 11 percent of the students, and consistently came out on top in self-esteem and social status; they were least likely to be depressed.

The study was published in the "Journal of Interpersonal Violence."

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According to Medical Daily, the study said, "Bullying emerges from evolutionary development, providing an adaptive edge for gaining better sexual opportunities and physical protection, and promoting mental health.”

Wong told the National Post:

Humans tend to try to establish a rank hierarchy. When you’re in high school, it’s a very limited arena in which you can establish your rank, and climbing the social ladder to be on top is one of the main ways … Bullying is a tool you can use to get there.

Wong said that anti-bullying programs at schools fail to change bullies because their bullying behavior is part of their biology.

Wong claims that punishing bullies usually fails and can enhance their social status.

Wong suggests that instead of trying to change bullying behavior, schools should channel it into competitive activities that are supervised, but admits that some in the education field will “vehemently” disagree with her.

Rob Frenette, of a support group called Bullying Canada, counters:

This is kind of stepping backward and that’s concerning. I don’t want parents who have a child who is considered a bully to think, "Well, it’s something they’re born with and there’s nothing we can do to adjust their behavior.”

Sources: National Post, Medical Daily / Photo Credit: Bpenn005/Wikimedia