The headline of a New York Times article sent to me by a Lovefraud reader last week was, Maybe bullies just want to be loved.
Yeah, right, I thought.
The article related the findings of two recent studies, one of them about schoolyard bullies. Dutch researchers from the University of Groningen investigated 481 elementary school children. Their findings, according to the Times:
Bullies tended to divide their classmates into potential sources of affection and targets for domination. The latter were children who had already been rejected by kids the bullies cared about: They didn’t count. Interestingly, bullies cared only about the approval of classmates of the same sex. Boys pick on kids whom their male peers disdain, but couldn’t care less what the girls think. Similarly, mean girls disregard their male classmates’ opinions. “Bullies are very strategic in their behavior,” explains the lead author, René Veenstra. “They’re looking for attention and affection from their own peer group.” In other words, bullies want friends.