Gender and Bullying
Bullies are sometimes considered to occur more in boys than girls. When children enter their teenage years, this notion shifts, and girls are considered more likely to be bullies. What limited research has shown is that especially in early childhood and elementary school age years, both boys and girls bully and get bullied equally. There isn’t a higher rate in boys compared to girls or vice versa. Interestingly, it seems that bullying behavior also tends to be aimed at the same gender as the perpetrator, so boys tend to bully boys and girls bully other girls.
Another interesting find is that by about age 3, girls and boys tend to present bullying behavior differently.
Physical bullying is easier to identify and address immediately, therefore educators often see more instances of boys bullying. This means that playground fights, classroom arguments, and aggressive or violent behaviors warrant immediate action from adults and are difficult to miss. Sometimes, however, this can be categorized as “rough play” or a “boys will be boys” type of behavior and that categorization can be harmful to preventing or stopping bullying.
Verbal and social bullying can be more challenging to identify with much of it occurring in private or disguising itself as mean girl behavior. Sometimes adults are lucky to catch a glimpse of the behavior repeatedly and other times it is a parent who brings it to your attention. It is important to do what you can to remain aware of the potential for this type of bullying and guide children through positive and appropriate social skills.