Do Bullies Know They Are Bullies?

Do bullies know they are bullies? Do they realize they are causing emotional distress to their victims?

Do bullies know they are bullies? Do they realize they are causing emotional distress to their victims? As the debates about how to stop bullying continues, some are rising up saying that bullies do not always realize they are bullies. This can make the path to end bullying even harder.

Do Bullies Know They Are Bullies?

Do Bullies Have Low Self Esteem?

Maybe- According to the article Psychologist: Bullies Know They Are Bullying from the Huffington Post, bullies today come in all shapes and sizes. Some bullies enjoy the imbalance of power that happens when they bully someone. They enjoy the feeling of holding power over others and of showing off that power a bit. Enjoying the feeling of power does not necessarily equate to low self-esteem.

Other types of stereotypical bullies are often loners who do not easily make friends. They may have a single sidekick, but generally, they have trouble creating solid friendships. The key is that the bully often lashes out to protect themselves. They may have been bullied in the past and now bully to keep from becoming the victim. They may have low self-esteem and bully because making someone else feel bad makes them feel better.

So do bullies know they are bullies? Yes, regardless if they have low self-esteem or not, bullies are generally aware that what they are doing is wrong. They may not know how to have healthy interactions, but they generally know they are bullying.

Related: Art Activities to Build Self-esteem in Kids

Do Bullies Feel Bad About Bullying?

Most bullies truly do not feel bad about the frustration and trouble they cause. A great article in Psychology Today explains that most bullies do not feel bad. It can be incredibly difficult to step outside yourself and to realize your own negativities. People who are very successful usually have the great ability to see their own shortcomings.

Most people who bully simply do not have the ability to look at their own interactions as negative. Since they are feeding off of the interactions and it simply stops them from being able to see themselves in the interaction.  If you try to have sympathy for the bully, many times the reaction is for the bully to lash out in some sort of attack. This attack mode is learned and is a way to protect themselves in response to shame.

Related: 3 Ways To Set A Good Example To Prevent Bullying In Your Kids

How Do Bullies Choose Who They Attack?

Bullies do not usually attack confident people. A confident person is much harder to bully, especially if they have a circle of friends around them.  Bullies tend to isolate sensitive people and pick at their insecurities. By isolating the person, it is much harder for the victim to defend themselves. Fighting back can cause the bullying to become worse if the situation is one on one. The bully will often fight harder so they do not lose their power.

Related: 7 Unmistakable Reasons Why People Bully

The good news is that bullies can change. Do bullies know they are bullies? Not necessarily, but once they learn they are seen negatively by friends and classmates they may try to change. So just because someone is a bully in school does not mean they will be a bully forever.

So do bullies really know they are bullies? Do you know anyone who was a bully and changed? Tell me in the comments.

Image Credit: Francisco Luco


28 thoughts on “Do Bullies Know They Are Bullies?”

  1. I deal with a family of bullies who don’t think there is anything wrong with what they are doing, and have not settled down until they finally realized that they could face actual jailtime if I decide to submit all my evidence to the police.

  2. I was bullied all through school and interestingly I met one of the girls who did it many years later. She had no clue what she had done or how it effected me, she just thought she was having a laugh.

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  11. I do believe bullies know they are bullying and that they all have low self esteems. It is all a power thing for them but in most cases they do stop when they grow up. I do believe it is an immature way of getting attention and any attention good along with bad sometimes is what they crave. They can indeed change.

  12. I truly don’t think bullies know how mean they are being! Maybe that’s what they grow up with and it’s just common to act like that to them? Just my opinion…

  13. Yes bullies have the lowest of self-esteem. They never pick on someone who is on their level, they pick on harmless people who probably also have a confidence problem because it makes that bully look super confident in themselves. Sad, and I never understood how parents could raise little bullies and act like they didnt know.

  14. When I was in Elementary, I was bullied by a boy who was twice as as the size of me. One day I got fed up and threw a pice of broken glass that I found on the ground on him, he got a bloddy face but he stopped bothering me after that.

  15. Bullies do come in different shapes and sizes and I’ve came across a few here. I do hope that they will change. I would like to believe that there is hope to that.

  16. I believe some realize that they’re bullying, while others are not aware of it. However, I believe most bullying stems from low self-esteem and/or have been bullied themselves. I feel like if a person truly felt good about themselves that they wouldn’t resort to bullying. Bullying other people gives them a sense of power that they feel nowhere else in life.

  17. I believe bullies know when they are bullies. They may not understand why they are doing what they are doing or how to stop but I definitely believe they know they are doing something wrong.

  18. Im sure most do but depending on age, perhaps they don’t. My daughter was getting bullied from another girl in her 1st grade class. Can you believe it 1st grade? I did not waste any time, and went to speak to the teacher.

  19. Bullies really do come in all shapes and sizes. It is such an issue these days especially as kids are online more. I don’t know what the answer is, but everyone (parents, teachers, kids) needs to take responsibility and help make a change.

  20. I believe that bullies do not always know that what they are doing is wrong.

    I think they learn that bullying type behaviour from the people they spend time with, such as their family.

    A lot of times family members say things to each other intentionally and unintentionally, and even if they mean no harm, they forget that the kids in the room do not always understand correct behaviour and incorrect behaviour, and that the kids learn and see that this type of treatment happens at home, and appears acceptable, so they turn around and treat others the same way.

    When I look back to the way my family members spoke to me and to each other, it could easily be classified as bullying. But back then the label of bullying was not as commonly used as it is now. I do know that when I went to school I was pretty harsh with some kids as well. Again, because at home that was “ok” so I did not know any better.

    Looking back I really wish a teacher had taken me aside and taught me that my behaviour was unacceptable, but again, no one really paid much attention to it.

  21. I’m pretty sure a lot of them do know that they are bullies. I was bullied as a child and they knew what they were doing. The more confident you are the less likely they will continue that worked for me for sure.

  22. I was bullied very badly groing up. I will never, ever put my kids in public or even private school because you can’t control bullies with bad home lives. I feel sorry for any kids being bullied and as an adult also feel bad for those with low self-esteem who feel the need to bully others. School is full of nastiness and very little learning happens when you’re afraid to go to school. Do they know they are bullies? Probably not because most bullying is learned behavior, sadly from parents and older bully siblings.

  23. This is very interesting. I honestly am dreading when my son goes to school for this very reason. Every bully is its own situation, and it has to be handled on a case by case basis. It can be frustrating because it seems like there is never a right answer on how to deal with it.

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