I think most of us can probably guess why bullies do what they do.
I’d guess it could be any number of factors: self-consciousness, a bad home life, abusive parents.
But maybe there are other reasons that we haven’t thought about…
People who used to be bullies opened up on AskReddit about why they were so angry. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Seeking attention.
“I used to bully people for attention and got so hated by people around me that I finally tried to figure out why I had no friends and then it hit me that I was rude and annoying to everyone around me.
Both my parents are al**holics so they just ignored me constantly and the teachers would only give me their attention when I was bad, I just deeply wanted the adults around me to care. I’m now 19 and I have been going out of my way to be as kind to everyone as possible and I have moved out of my sh*tty parents house so I’m now the most happy I have been in my life, I’m also studying to become an allied health care professional.
But the thought that I have hurt so many peoples feelings and made them feel bad will always haunt me and I hope those people are doing well in their lives.”
2. A vicious cycle.
“I was p*ssed and unstable from living with a toxic mother who would beat me senseless for the smallest, stupidest things. Sometimes to the point of me bleeding or bruising.
When my dad finally realized she wasn’t worth keeping in our lives, it helped me calm down and eventually I realized I became the same sort of monster my mother was. Hurting people for tiny, stupid sh*t that didn’t really matter. And I regretted it. I noticed a sort of vicious cycle.
My mom always b*tched and complained my grandmother was toxic as hell to her, beating her with glass till she bled and supposedly doing nothing while she was r*ped (I don’t know how true this is and could be just misremembering her psychotic ranting) and yet, my mother became the same monster she claimed my grandma to be. And I didn’t want to repeat that cycle anymore. I admit, I ain’t perfect. I say and do my fair share of cancellable sh*t all the godd*mn time.
But I’m at least a less violent person than I was being trapped with my mother. And I want to keep continuing to hopefully improve from the monster she made me.”
3. The wrong crowd.
“Fell into the wrong crowd.
I was bullied all throughout 6th grade until I fought my bully. It was pretty bad and I wouldn’t say either of us really won, but they stopped. So I guess I won? Doesn’t change the existing issue which is that bullies often target ostracized kids. I wasn’t being picked on, but that status didn’t change.
After long enough, you get tired of eating lunch alone. Not having partners for class projects and having to being assigned one by the teacher. Not having a someone to sit next to on the bus so you just sit on the floor in the back where the wheelchair is supposed to go.
So imagine your surprise when in 7th grade, the kids who used to bully you pick you for their team in gym class. Or that they don’t mind eating lunch with you. It’s the first time at this school that these things have happened. They’re rowdy and aggressive but you laugh along as they tease each other because it’s what they’re doing. You want to fit in. You don’t want to go back to being alone. You’d rather be dead than do that.
So you copy them and play along. It gets easier. It’s easy to tease each other. It becomes easy to tease other people. You become desensitized. It doesn’t matter that other people in the school f*cking hate you because those handful of people tolerate you. Which is more than anyone else was willing to do, before.
Next think you know, over a year has passed and you find yourself in a fight with the kid you’ve bullied for the past 6 months. Except this time they don’t win. This time they lose. Resoundingly. You show up the next day and see their arm in a cast. But nothing happens. They won’t dare tell on you. Not like the teachers would do anything about it, anyways.
At that point it rolls over you like a warm wave that starts in your chest as it swells up to your face. It’s hot. Almost burning. You forget to breathe as you feel this heat over every inch of your body. You then realize the piece of inhuman garbage you are.
You start to cry.”
4. Learned behavior.
“I wasn’t a classic bully, but I’m sure I was a d*ck to other kids and my friends many times.
Being kind and considerate is learned behavior. A lot of children and teens have to be cruel before they can learn that being mean feels bad and will ultimately make people dislike you.
With teenagers especially, a lot of their “humor” consists of making fun of each other. As people get older, they learn that those jokes can hurt people’s feelings and then they tend to use more self-deprecating or alternative humor.”
5. Family problems.
“My brothers bullied me at home and my parents did nothing about it.
I started thinking that it was how you show you like someone. People didn’t see it that way and straight up told me I was a bad person and they’re afraid of me.
That made me understand my behaviour.”
6. Low self-esteem.
“I used to be a bully by hitting people and putting tape in girls hair.
I used to get into fights every day and made my mother very sad. What made me snap out of being a f*ckhead is when the school resource officer gave me a talking to. I bullied because I used to get bullied and my parents would berate me and lower my self-esteem.
To make myself feel better I would bully other kids to somehow make myself feel better. I have changed and I hope that people will find me as quiet and chill instead of the arrogant pr*ck I was a few years ago.”
7. Little guy.
“I was mean because when I was the little guy, Everyone was mean to me.
One summer I had an immense growth spurt and when I came back to school it was time for the shoe to be on the other foot. I beat up the kids who were mean to me, I beat up the kids who didn’t stick up for me. I beat up kids who were just like me before.
I realized I was mean the whole time and I loved it. I loved making other people feel helpless after I spent years feeling helpless myself. Now, it haunts me. The things I’ve said and done to people ring through my ears every night when I’m trying to sleep.
Every good deed I try to do is outnumbered in my own head by all the bad things I’ve done. I’ve spent years tracking down everybody I was mean to and apologizing from the bottom of my heart. They’ve all forgiven me with ease and have moved on. I’m the one lying awake at night because of the things I’ve done to people who didn’t deserve it.
I’m the helpless one again.”
8. Mean girls.
“I was trying so hard to be one of the ‘cool girls’ in school.
Desperately wanted to be on good terms with the popular kids. I was in sixth grade. Have grown up regretting it and will do so for the rest of my life.
Have since apologised and she was kind enough to forgive me but its something you cant take back. Its important to teach kids being popular at school means nothing.”
“I wasn’t originally a bully, in fact I used to be at the tail-end of the torment.
But I got r*ped in freshman year of high school and something just snapped. It’s not like I picked on kids who were already dealt a sh*tty hand, I picked on the kids whose happiness and ignorance made me jealous. I went through a pretty rough couple years after the r*pe and made it a point to just dig out everyone’s vulnerabilities just so they’d be as miserable as I was.
By senior year I had gone so far in terms of being jaded that I stopped bothering anyone but by then the damage was done. I don’t think I’ve necessarily improved as a person (you become even more sour when you work in customer service) but I certainly have improved in terms of how I channel my temper.”
10. Eat or be eaten.
“I bullied in middle school and a little in high school because it was an eat or be eaten kind of mentality.
Very “Mean Girls” kind of vibe where you just HAD to be a part of this group or whatever. If you weren’t with this crowd what were you even doing?
I wasn’t a bully in the harassing way, just a real jerk to others and cynical smart *ss. I would make others feel stupid for enjoying things or whatever. Even teachers looking back now. I was just too cool for anything I guess.
I left the “cool” crowd for actual friends about sophomore year because I was never happy and it felt like a weight was lifted off my chest. I could breathe and be myself. I was much more laid back and comfortable with who I was.
I was able to make amends with everyone I previously was a pr*ck too and made friends with everyone. I still talk to them on Instagram often.”
11. It’s complicated.
“In middle school it started out as a way to impress the popular kids.
Then in high school, it felt normal to let out my anger by being mean and intimidating. It turned into a defense mechanism.
I’ll hurt you before you hurt me type thing.”
Do you have any bullying stories from your childhood?
If so, please share them with us in the comments.
We’d love to hear from you!