Bullies? What about them? (Part 4)

Bullying styles and the motives behind them

In 2002, I conducted a study which ascertained the different bullying styles and motives of bullies between a local private and a local public school setting. To my knowledge, it is the first and only indigenous research of its kind to date. Respondents from these two diverse academic institutions clearly differed not only in economic status, but more importantly, in the gripping differences of their collective conceptualizations of bullying styles.

For the majority of respondents of the private school, bullying was seen to emphasize on verbally abusive methods such as teasing, taunting, and name-calling. (94.52%) Yet for the respondents of the public school, they only ranked these verbally abusive methods fourth (51.95%) despite the inclusion of “domestic violence “and “assailants being intoxicated during perceived bullying acts” in their collective definition.

It is interesting to note that the manifestation of these unique environmental factors (E.g., considering domestic violence between spouses to be a form of bullying; domineering intoxicated assailants) was quite reflective on the part of the public school respondents as although we generally do not consider these acts to be a prototypical description of bullying, they are just that—bullying. English author and former counselor Sarah Lawson said it best when she described a bully to be “one who often intends to hurt and humiliate…as well as have no conception of the damage that he/she is doing.” Lawson adds that perhaps this situation occurs frequently and has become a normal part of life or simply they have yet to develop the awareness in putting themselves in another’s shoes.

Local Bullying


Private School Results
1) Teasing by calling others’ names (94.52%)
2) Using words as a method of bullying (84.93%)
3) Hurting others emotionally (79.45%)
4) Pushing other people around (69.86%)

Public School Results

1) Using words as a method of bullying (62.34%)
2) Using their fists (61.04%)
3) Intimidating others (53.25%)
4) Teasing by calling others’ names (51.95%)
5) Revealing secrets to other people (48.05%)
6) Hurting others emotionally (46.75%)

Motives behind bullying styles

Among the established bullies in the research, private school bullies (46.58%) claimed they only wanted to have fun and have a few laughs when they engaged in bullying behavior. A few (39.73%) claimed they bullied because they felt like it at the moment or trip lang. Despite more than half of the private school respondents admitted having at least bullied once, thirty-eight percent of the population (38.36%) refrained from giving specific answers.

On the other hand, the public school respondents (33.77%) were not specific in descriptions of their method(s) of bullying. A few (25.97%) gave several other methods that were not listed such as revenge and peer pressure. Commonly noted by the group was the use of physical methods on the victim (24.68%). A few (25.97%) claimed they bullied for fun and laughter, while others (25.97%) gave several other reasons. For those in the private school, the most common reported form of bullying was verbal, while respondents of public school reported threats of physical harm. Both groups however, emphasized that the methods served to intimidate the victims.

The research clearly echoes a need for education and awareness on many fronts. It is a responsibility that is not limited to teachers or schools as parents need to play an active role. It is important “not to lose sight of the fact that no one knows your child like you do, and that no one cares as deeply as you about what happens to him or her” (Lawson, 1994).

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