Types of Bullies – The 9 Types of Bullies in School

Novembro 27, 2014 às 6:00 am | Publicado em Uncategorized | Deixe um comentário
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Children must cope with more challenges when facing adulthood concerning their interpersonal relationships in their work environment, which is school. Due to ongoing world affairs and the ever advancing communication technology industry children have more ways to acquire information and more ways to express their reaction to information. Bullying behavior in schools continues to be a problem that takes forms in various ways depending on the culture and location of the educational institution. Bullying is unwelcomed behavior, unwarranted and invalid criticism of another person or entity.

School administrations as well as state and federal branches have been attempting to conquer bullying in schools; be it passing new laws, implementing new programs, encouraging students to support each other, and so. However, most programs and laws have not touched on why bullies bully or the typologies of bullies. Academic institutions have focused on workplace bullying and behavior management, but none of those elements have been introduced directly into the field.

In this article, a typology of bullies will be described and defined. These descriptions are a accumulation of studies and research conducted within the last 10 years at academic institutions.

Nine Types of Bullies

1) Sadistic 2) Bystander 3) Accessory 4) Conditional 5) Imitative 6) Relational 7) Impulsive 8) Accidental 9) Reactive

The nine types of bullies are more than an identification tool, but also allow for an illustration of how they bully their targets.


A person who is considered a sadistic bully has a low degree of anxiety of incurring consequences of their negative behavior and also has a low level of empathy towards others. The purpose of this type of bullying is self-gratification and is defined by the behavior that is emitted. Does this person bully publicly or privately? Does this person have one target or random targets? Does this person create contrived opportunities to bully or does this person prefer natural opportunities to bully another? Most sadistic bullies need to feel omnipotent and at times appear to have high self-esteem.


A person who is considered a bystander bully has a high degree of anxiety for the consequences of their behavior and typical degrees of empathy for others. This bully identifies with the subject or the bully, but avoids the situation or minimizes the bullying event. Bystander bullies are ambivalent about the situation due to the high anxiety or possible fears of consequences for participating in the bullying behavior or ceasing the bullying behavior. This type of bully is the most thoughtful of the typologies because they have carefully weighed all the parties involved and choose not to take any action except be a silent witness. An example of a bystander bully would be a person watching a bully engage in the behavior and does nothing. Another example, the bully could call attention to the bystander and the bully will only emit the behavior if the bystander is attending.


A person who is an accessory bully has a typical degree of anxiety of consequences and a low degree of empathy of others. This bully maintains a relationship with another bully and has a dependent relationship with their bully-friend. This person aides and/or encourages behavior of another bully. An accessory bully identifies with the bully and can have a hand in selecting targets for their bully-friend. An example of an accessory bully would be a friend of a bully who cheers or instigates the bully to emit the behavior.


Bullies who are considered conditional have a low degree of anxiety of incurring consequences of their negative behavior, but do have a typical degree of empathy of others. These particular bullies determine their targets based on events or actions related. For example, a new student in school is having a relatively typical adjustment and has not been the subject of any bullying behavior. The new student begins an intimate relationship with another student. Suddenly, the new student has rumors spread about their past relationships, the new student receives threatening text messages, emails, and inappropriate voicemails. The new student learns that another student targeted them because they did not approve of their relationship. This conditional bully only targeted the new student because of the newly developed relationship.


Bullies who are considered imitative bullies have a typical degree of anxiety of consequences and a low level of empathy of others. These types of bullies will copy negative and positive behaviors in their environment. Imitative bullies are not attached or dependent on the bullies they imitate and identify with both the bully and the subject. For example, a group of friends could be making jokes at the expense of another friend. An imitative bully may then join in or use the material in that situation and apply it to a similar situation. This person focuses on inclusion and self-gratification.


A person who is an relational bully has a high degree of anxiety of consequences and a low degree of empathy of others. This person is a personal bully. This bully maintains a personal relationship with the subject of bullying behavior. They maintain a relationship by providing both positive and negative behavior to the subject. The relational bully does not emit bullying behavior to strangers or acquaintances. Amongst females the term “frienemies” would describe this bullying relationship. In male relationships or friendships, one male will be more dominate and use humiliation to maintain their status and then reward their subordinate for maintaining their friendship. This could look like inviting them to events, praising them, supporting their extracurricular activities, and defending (physically and emotionally) their subordinate from outside acts or influences. The relational bully is dependent upon their relationship with their subject. If the bully does not have a subject, the bully will canvas and develop a relationship, which makes these bullies friendly, charming, and engaging.


Bullies who are considered impulsive bullies have a typical degree of anxiety of consequences and a typical level of empathy of others. These particularly bullies are likely to be subjected to bullying themselves, which explains why their behavior is spontaneous and random. Impulsive bullies have a highly level of difficulty monitoring their behavior and are opportunity based. If no opportunity is present, they will not contrive an opportunity. Persons who are identified as impulsive bullies may also have a medical/development diagnoses.


Persons who are considered accidental bullies have a typical degree of anxiety of consequences and a typical level of empathy towards others. An accidental bully is just that, a person unaware of their behavior and their behavior’s impact on the subject. An example of an accidental bully or bullying event is taking a joke to an inappropriate level. Intervention for these bullies is highly affective, because the intent of the bully is not sadistic, bystander, accessory, conditional, imitative, relational, or impulsive.


A person who is considered a reactive bully has a high degree of anxiety of incurring consequences of their negative behavior and also has a high level of empathy towards others. These bullies may begin as subjects of bullying behavior and graduate to bullying during retaliation. They are highly defensive and will display anxious and nervous behaviors such as rapid speech, fidgeting, low attending, daydreaming, excessive perspiration, decreased or increased in appetite, emotional irregularities, and incidents of bowel irregularity. In past research studies, this bully would be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and any behavior emitted would be considered reactive to past trauma from bullying behavior.

After reviewing the descriptions of the nine bully types, a person could assume that they are one of these bullies or have bullied a person in the manner similar to one of the nine. However, the difference between a bully and someone who bullied someone is:

Bullying is obsessive and at times compulsive. A serial bully has to have someone to bully and appear to be unable to function without a current target. A serial bully: (1) has not learned to accept responsibility, (2) refuse to accept and acquire appropriate social behavior mores, and (3) does not acknowledge consequences of their behavior.

Some excellent books about prevention and intervention strategies for classroom and in-the-home include:

“Bullying Prevention and Intervention: Realistic Strategies for Schools” by Swearer, Espelage and Napolitano (2009)

“Bullying Prevention for Schools: A Step-by-Step Guide to Implementing a Successful Anti-Bullying Program” by Allan L. Beane (2009)

“Bullying From Both Sides: Strategic Interventions for Working With Bullies & Victims” by Roberts and Wiseman (2005)



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