Educational Psychology Review

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 339–348 | Cite as

Bullying in Schools: Addressing Desires, Not Only Behaviours

  • Ken Rigby
Reflection on the Field


Currently the main approach in responding to bullying in schools is to focus on undesired behaviours and to apply sanctions. This approach is often ineffective as well as failing to address the needs of children as persons as distinct from the behaviour they produce. A proposed alternative approach is to inquire into the motivation of children who bully and to identify the desires that bullying behaviour seeks to satisfy. This paper provides a critique of the conception of bullying as located in the desire to hurt others, as proposed by Tattum and Tattum (1992). It examines a range of desires, as inferred from the reasons schoolchildren give for bullying others, that may, under some circumstances, lead them to engage in bullying. Finally, it considers how a primary focus on children’s desires rather than on their behaviour, may result in more effective and humane methods of dealing with the problem of bullying in schools.


Bullying Schools Interventions Desires Behaviours 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Hawke Research InstituteAdelaideAustralia

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