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Contrary to the stereotype of the bully who is socially inept trying to make him or herself feel better, bullies who have never been the victim of bullying have been found to have rather high self-esteem and to be social climbers.
The aggression that is involved in bullying is thought to interfere with the empathy needed to refrain from bullying others.
The aggression is described as being of two different types: proactive aggression and reactive aggression.
Further, victims of bullying only report it to school adults one-third of the time, usually when the bullying is being suffered repeatedly or has caused injury.
Parents tend to be aware their child is being bullied only about half the time.
Some statistics on bullying suggest that 28% of students from grades six through 12 have a history of being the victim of bullying, while 30% of high school students acknowledge having bullied other students.
About 10%-14% of children have been the victim of bullying for more than six months.
Actual or perceived obesity of the victim is also a risk factor. "Bullying in schools: the state of knowledge and effective interventions." Psychology, Health and Medicine 22.1 (2017): 240-253.
Being underweight is slightly associated with being bullied.
They tend to be less popular, more often bullied by their siblings, be otherwise abuse or neglected, and to come from families of low socioeconomic status.
Bystanders of bullying, those who witness it but are neither the primary bully nor the victim, tend to succumb to what they believe is peer pressure to support bullying behavior and fear of becoming the victim of the bully if they don't support the behavior. "Bullying in middle schools: prevention and intervention." Association for Middle Level Education 37.3 Jan.
While state laws have little consistency in their definition of bullying, the accepted definition by many mental health professionals is physical or verbal aggression that is repeated over a period of time and involves an imbalance of power.