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Maybe It's Time To Start Prosecuting Bullies For Their Crimes
You may agree that it's time to arrest bullies so they can face the consequences of their actions. But what if the bully is your own child?
By Belinda Nnoka
I confess to being a tad confused, and I write in the hope that someone can answer this question for me.
Let me paint a few scenarios.
Scenario one. While walking down the street, I decide to punch someone in the face.
Scenario two. The next day I am walking down another street and I racially abuse a person who is walking past me.
Scenario three. I am travelling on public transport and start making homophobic comments at someone whom I think is gay.
Scenario four. I sexually abuse someone.
In each of these scenarios the following would happen:
I would be reported.
I would be arrested.
I would go to court and either be given a custodial sentence or some sort of community service.
A record of my misdeeds would be registered, e.g. a criminal record.
Do these steps sound correct, give or take a few exceptions in particular countries or states? If this sounds like the actions that the victims in the scenarios above can legitimately take, can someone therefore explain to me why, when a child has been the victim of consistent abuse at school, either verbal, physical, sexual or all three, the remedial steps outlined above seldom takes place?
I have always been confused when I read accounts of parents who face an uphill struggle to have the people who have assaulted their children pay for what they have done. If anything it should be easier to exact punishment on persistent bullies because they have singled out their victims for systematic abuse and their identities are known. Why is there a difference between how the authorities respond in the scenarios I have mentioned and when these incidents happen daily on school grounds? Of the countries that have reported their bullying statistics, this bizarre reluctance for schools and law enforcement agencies to adequately punish bullies is the same.
Why do schools not treat issues of bullying seriously?
Maybe, in their minds, they believe the nursery rhyme 'sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.' Anyone who has ever been lied about or had something insulting said about them even once knows how much those words hurt, cut, and demeaned them. Being verbally abused has a detrimental effect on those on the receiving end; there are countless studies to back this up.
There is also the possibility that schools do not wish to get involved in disciplining bullies for fear of facing the wrath of angry parents who may take issue with the school's decision.
Where law enforcement is concerned, it is possible that dealing with the destructive actions of school children pales into insignificance when compared with the need to remove the sea of drug dealers, murderers and paedophiles from the streets. If a child hasn't actually committed a murder, why should they be involved?
Interestingly, I've been scanning the web for stories of bullies who have been successfully prosecuted for their acts of violence and found such cases aren't easy to come across. I had to look for cases that I knew about such as the Phoebe Prince case or the horrific tale of the seven youths that posted a Youtube clip of themselves beating up an Asian student. The latter story is the one that matches exactly what I was looking for - a bully being jailed for an assault. The reason that this particular bully was locked up was that his father, Raymond Palomino, a police officer, reported him.
Maybe the key to really breaking the back of the bullying epidemic is for the parents of the bullies to have the moral courage to do what Mr. Palomino did. My personal opinion is that parents of aggressors should step in and help protect those who cannot protect themselves. Maybe the constant flow of parents frogmarching their children into police stations to report the damage they have caused to a victim at school will help authorities who at present do not regard bullying as a serious issue to change their minds.
Belinda Nnoka is an OvercomeBullying.org
feature writer and author of "Don't Let Bullies Ruin Your Life." If you are an expert in a field related
to bullying in school or the workplace and would like
to contribute to our efforts and promote your website
or services please contact
us for more information.
Phoebe Prince Suicide
Casey Heynes Defends Himself Against Bullying
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