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Are some children more likely to bully than others?

The findings of a study of children in London schools challenge the view of the bully as someone who is lacking in social skills. It found that bullies are good at understanding social signals. In a bullying situation they may use this to their advantage. Often the main bully in a group will be more socially aware than the children who follow him/her. This ability to read and manipulate social situations is aided by the bully's ability to understand the mental states of peers and also their emotions.
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Article details

J Sutton, P K Smith and J Swettenham (1999) 'Social cognition and bullying: Social inadequacy or skilled manipulation?', in 'British Journal of Developmental Psychology', Volume 17, pages 435-450.
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Author details

Peter SmithProfessor Peter K Smith is Head of the Unit for School and Family Studies, Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths College, London. He has been involved in bullying research for a number of years and has published widely on this topic.

Peter Smith may be contacted by email, and the website of the Unit for School and Family Studies at Goldsmiths College may be found here.
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