The Psychology Behind a Bully


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In light of recent events bullying has become a topic of conversation. But what makes a bully act the way they do?

On Wednesday, October 6th, Mansfield Timberview High School was involved in an incident that affected the lives of the community. The situation occurred after a fight broke out between the alleged gunman and the student who was shot four times. Initially reports began to surface from the alleged shooter’s family that the 15-year-old student who was shot has been bullying the 18-year-old gunman. During an MISD town hall meeting, police would later refute this claim saying based on their evidence there was no bullying involved.

Bullying is an ongoing problem in schools that has yet to be resolved. It can come in many different forms from verbal attacks to physical abuse. Bullying can lead to students potentially self-harming themselves, falling into a depressed state, or even provoking violence. For senior, Mitchell Bracken, bullying is a serious problem that deeply affects those involved.

“Bullying can make someone be scared to go to school, because they are frightened of what to expect next from their bully. Therefore, whenever they are at school, they start to separate themselves from their friends and peers and stop talking to others,” said Bracken.

Bullying can occur as early as elementary school. The discourse of how kids start to bully has been relevant throughout social media and in schools. For Psychology Teacher, Heather Willson, kids start to bully because they are projecting their self-hate to others.

“There are a couple of theories on this. There is a theory that bullying is a natural state, because we are animals and there is a theory that the strong survive and bullying is one technique to eat out the weak. That is not an accepted theory today, you are going to find that older people like that idea more than younger people. However, kids bully other kids at school, because they either have low self-esteem or they are trying to get a power play. Basically, they are trying to get higher recognition from the adults in the situation or area. As a whole, they don’t love themselves in a particular way, so if they can make someone hurt like they are hurting inside, they feel better about themselves,” said Willson.

Expanding on the topic, a question that some ask themselves is what do kids gain from bullying. Whether it be lunch money or just the satisfaction of putting someone else down, the takeaways from bullying are ambiguous. For Student Support Counselor, Lori Cook, the concept of power and control could be the ulterior motive.

“It kind of really depends on the situation. Is it because the bully themselves are getting bullied out of school and they are bringing it to school? Because of power and control, they are feeling that they can hold this over someone else. Or it is because kids are just mean. I would like to say that there is always a reason, but sometimes kids are just mean. It’s high school. The maturity comes along and sometimes the bully will look back and be like ‘Wow, I can’t believe I acted that way.’ And with maturity comes that and sometimes you can’t expect kids to habit maturity,” said Cook.

With the family of the gunman coming out saying that bullying was the overall motive to his actions, most are left to wonder if schools are doing enough to prevent a bully from hurting others. Whether the gunman was bullied or not, senior, Jomana Al-Aboudi, feels he could have chosen a better course of action.

“If the gunman was indeed bullied like he said he was, there could have been many different solutions to this. Instead, they could have talked things out, settled the tension between the two, instead of violence. Violence is never the answer,” said Al-Aboudi.

Though some wish that the gunman handled things differently, there is no turning back time. Senior, Gavin Kastl, feels the alleged gunman should have acted differently instead of turning to violence.

“Personally, I wouldn’t have gone to the same lengths as him, because potentially ending a person’s life is much more serious than it seems. This could have been solved better by addressing the situation than having long term consequences for a short term situation,” said Kastl.

There are many outlets that try to resolve bullying such as anti-bullying associations, counselors, and student led organizations. Though all options are to help prevent bullying, some students choose not to seek help. Without the help provided, bullying victims could lead to unprecedented measures such as MISD saw on October 6th. Senior, Lindsay Reyes, feels bullying in school could be handled better by the teachers.

“I think teachers in the community should pay more attention to that rather than just putting it out there. Like yes, they are going to say ‘please be nice’ or ‘please do this,’ but I think they should start taking more action,” said Reyes.

Whether or not bullying was behind the tragic events of October 6th, it is an ongoing issue that needs more attention from all involved before something horrific occurs again.