Bullies are people who physically and/or emotionally intimidate others using violent actions and words. Many children bully in a mild manner, even those who have been the victims of bullying. One survey found that 80% of students in a Midwestern middle school had bullied someone else within the past month.
The biggest problem is posed by those who intentionally and repeatedly behave aggressively toward other children to gain power over them.
Adults can also be bullies, especially in the workplace. Some parents bully their children and grown children sometimes abusively wield their power over aging parents.
Children -- especially teenagers -- and some adults are cyber bullies, who harass through the Internet, other interactive technologies or cell phones.
Behavior of Bullies
School-age bullies may hit, kick, call names, threaten or steal another child’s possessions. Boys tend toward physical bullying while girls may be more verbal and manipulative. Bullies who use words do just as much harm as those who push or shove.
Even food can be a weapon. There are reports of bullies threatening to force-feed peanuts to children who are deathly allergic to them.
In the teen years, bullies sometimes exhibit criminal behaviors, such as making death threats, urging someone to commit suicide or using weapons. Bullies are often more violent when harassing others away from school, rather than on school property, where there is likely to be more supervision.
Who Becomes a Bully?
Evidence shows that aggressive children who lack empathy are more likely to bully, along with those who have little parental supervision and support. The stereotype of the bully as someone with low self-esteem has been deemed a myth.
Many experts believe bullies have a superior sense of self, experience a feeling of control when they bully and derive the most pleasure from the reactions of bystanders.
Bullies often copy aggressive, manipulating behaviors they see or experience at home. Some children who are bullied at home and then bully others are asking for help.
Other Characteristics of Bullies
Bullies may be more prone to violence. According to a Institutes of Health survey, 43% of boys who reported bullying others at least once a week also carried a weapon in school. Thirty-nine percent were often involved in fights and nearly half had been injured in an altercation.
Children who bully also have a higher risk for committing suicide.
How to Avoid Raising Bullies
It’s important for parents to nip bullying behaviors in the bud when children are young. Signs that a parent may be raising a bully begin early, and include the following:
• Throwing tantrums to get his or her way, after the age of 3
• Parents who give a child what he or she wants because of a tantrum or to prevent one.
• Threats by the child to end friendships if he or she doesn’t get her or his way
• Destructive behaviors when he or she is angry
• Refusal to follow household rules
• Few friends or invitations to friends’ houses
Parents who suspect their child may be a bully can take a quiz to find out more about his or her behavior with other children.
Bullies in the Workplace
• Threats about firing or demoting
• Imposing impossible deadlines and unrealistic expectations
• Withholding information about opportunities, policy changes and work gatherings
• Sexist or ageist remarks
Corporations can also exhibit bullying behaviors. A book called “Brand Name Bullies” claims that corporations use U.S. copyright and trademark laws against smaller competitors or artists who wish to include corporate logos in their work.
Cyber bullies intimidate others through instant messaging, e-mail, chat rooms and social networking websites. Someone might create a website using someone else’s name, and post pictures and messages while pretending to be that person.
Very often, cyber bullying is a series of taunts or threats rather than a one-time incident.
Related Bullies Resources
About.com Career Planning: Workplace Bullies 
About.com Child Care: Dealing With Female Bullies 
About.com Learning Disabilities: School Bullies - Bullying in School, Preventing School Bullying and Protecting Your Child 
About.com Men’s Health: Workplace Bullying 
About.com Pediatrics: Helping the Child Who is Expressing Anger 
About.com Pediatrics: Bully Quiz 
About.com Pediatrics: Temper Tantrums 
About.com Special Needs Children: Bullies Using Peanuts as a Weapon 
About.com Teen Advice: How Girls Bully 
About.com Teen Advice: Information Sheet on Bullies 
About.com Teen Advice: Teen Advice on Cyber Bullies 
About.com Teen Advice: Are You a Part of the Bullying Problem? 
About.com Tweens: How to Stop Bullying Behavior 
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Bullying 
American Psychological Association: Bullies 
BullyBeware.com: Why It Continues 
FamilyEducation.com: Dealing with Bullies 
Groundspark.org: Statistics on Bullying 
Kalamazoo College: Who Becomes a Bully? Who Becomes a Victim? 
Kidshealth.org: Dealing with Bullies 
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: Bullies, Victims at Risk for Violence and Other Problem Behaviors 
PBS Kids: Bullies: What is Bullying? 
SafeChild.org: Stopping Bullying 
StopBullyingNow.com: Help for Youth Who Bully 
StopCyberBullying.org: What Is It? 
Suite 101: Are You Raising a Brat or a Bully? 
Wired.com: Corporate Bullying