Misconceptions About Bullying


Misconception: Students who engage in bullying behaviour struggle with self-esteem and have no friends.

Reality: There are many types of students who engage in bullying behaviour. Some are confident and socially successful. Bullying behaviour is motivated by a need for social power. Bullying behaviour is seen as a way to control and manipulate the social order.


Misconception: Students who engage in bullying behaviour are just looking for attention. Ignore them and they go away.

Reality: Students who engage in bullying behaviour are looking for control. They rarely stop if they are ignored. In fact, the bullying behaviour is likely to increase unless it is addressed by adults.


Misconception: The best way to stop bullying behaviour is to just hit back harder.

Reality: Getting physical only invites escalation of bullying and harassment and increases the potential for serious physical harm. Also, this gives students the idea that violence is a legitimate way to solve problems.


Misconception: Being bullied builds character.

Reality: Young people who are bullied tend to feel isolated and lonely, and do not trust others. They are more likely to experience depression and anxiety. They struggle in school and experience health-related issues. They may even contemplate suicide.


Misconception: Young people need to handle bullying on their own.

Reality: If a young person knew how to handle it, they probably would. An adult who is aware of a bullying situation has an obligation to address it in some way. Without adult intervention, the bullying behaviour is likely to continue.


Misconception: If bullying were a serious problem, I would hear about it.

Reality: Young people often stay silent about bullying. Even children with excellent relationships with their parents stay silent. They are either too embarrassed or afraid that the bullying will get worse if they speak up. That’s why it’s important that parents and teachers are able to spot the signs of bullying behaviour.


Misconception: Bullying is easy to spot.

Reality: The fact is that students who engage in bullying behaviour often know where parents and teachers are most of the time. As a result, bullying often happens when adults aren’t around to witness it. Students who engage in bullying behaviour are often smart socially. They are able to manipulate parents, teachers and administrators using the same skills they use to bully other students. For this reason, adults often need to look to bystanders to understand the situation.


Misconception: There have always been people who bully and there always will be.

Reality: By working together, students, teachers and parents have the power to change how things have been and create a better and safer future for all students.


Misconception: Bullying is a natural part of growing up. Kids will be kids.

Reality: It is not natural or acceptable for a student to bully others. It is a learned behaviour, and with the right intervention it can be unlearned.