Many bullies are simply reacting to trouble at home. They may be physically disciplined or intimidated at home, leading to trouble eating and sleeping and the desire to gain control over the people in at least one area of their life. Adults may have not given kids the skills they need to recognize and accept the differences between themselves and others. A bully may lash out at members of a minority or kids who are just different in an effort to control people and feel important. On the outside, a child in this situation may appear perfectly normal, but on the inside they can be in turmoil. For whatever reason, the child will often reach the subconscious conclusion that they can make themselves feel better or more important by hurting others, and this is where bullying can begin.
Unfortunately, bullies are all too often rewarded for their behavior. Kids are very ready to adopt the attitudes and social structures they see in the media. Some bullies become popular ringleaders among their classmates just because others think they are “being cool”. However, not all bullies are “the cool kids”. They can also be outsiders, troubled students who may have been bullied themselves and are now seizing the opportunity to take it out on those around them.
Bullying behavior can often be identified as a cry for help. Most of the root causes of bullying behavior can be traced directly to trouble at home or among friends.
Bullies at school are often motivated by the need to fit in. Students with low self-esteem may pick on others in order to be accepted into a larger group. Conversely, Time Magazine has reported that students with high self-esteem, like athletes and other popular students, may adopt a bullying role to cement their social standing or because of negative expectations of them as depicted on television and in movies.