Friday 27 January 2012

Victims of bullying must have justice

I saw a sickening video recently featuring SEVEN teenagers viciously beating an Oriental boy. I will not be posting it here as it has already gone viral and I do not want to give these people anymore publicity.

The one filming this sickening display was a 15 year old girl who lured the victim into the path of these barbaric teens. They stomped on his head, punched and kicked him for 3.39 minutes. They could have very easily killed him. My blood boiled – I was absolutely enraged by these wicked boys torturing a helpless young boy for fun. The term 'feral' that so many people in London protest about being used to describe young people who behave in this manner definitely applies to these boys

But what I'm concerned about is that a hotshot defence attorney could cut a deal which will result in minimal punishment, if any, for the attackers and their records could be expunged so as not to harm their chances of getting a good job in the future.

If I sound cynical it is because this seems to be the way things go, especially in the US. Take the case of Phoebe Prince,15, who committed suicide after a campaign of bullying by nine of her classmates. After standing trial for the part they played in her suicide, sentences of probation and community service were handed down after Phoebe's tormentors pleaded guilty to the charges on May 5, 2011. Does this sound like an appropriate punishment for what they did to her? There are hundreds more stories like this.

Trawl the web for five minutes and you will see that seldom are bullies punished appropriately whether the victim commits suicide or not. Why are schools and local authorities reluctant to punish bullies properly? What is it about this epidemic that causes those with the power to do the most about it to turn a blind eye, thereby empowering aggressive people to continue their reign of terror? Even with all the statistics about how bad the bullying epidemic is the response from authority figures is woefully inadequate; some might even say irresponsible.

What will it take for schools and local authorities to punish bullies appropriately?

Monday 23 January 2012

Why is bullying on the increase?

I recently watched an episode of Judge Judy. The case presented to her was that of a 12 year old boy whose mobile phone had gone missing and he was suing the defendant, a 15 year old girl, Gabriella, for theft.

The phone had somehow ended up in Gabriella’s neighbourhood, which was an hour away from the boy's home. Gabriella's father had found it on the pavement and instead of taking it to the local police station or trying to call some of the numbers in the phone to find out who it belonged to, he took it home. When after a month no one called to claim the phone Gabriella decided to use it.

Here is Gabriella’s version of events: when after a month no one called to claim the phone she started using it. She thought it was a prepaid phone, but the minutes just never ran out. She didn't steal the phone so she wasn’t a thief. When the phone wasn't returned to the young boy, his family should have disconnected the phone line. Yes she used it, but the phone was pretty and she liked it. It wasn’t her fault that the boy had lost the phone. All of this was delivered in between questioning by Judge Judy with a smile in the presence of both her parents.

To add insult to injury Gabriella had run up a phone bill of over $400 and had lost the phone, both of which her parents were made to pay for, thankfully.

Even though Judge Judy then proceeded to give Gabriella’s parents a very condescending lecture on teaching their daughter right from wrong, it was very clear from Gabriella’s behaviour in front of her parents how she had been raised. She did not care at all about what she had done. In fact she couldn't understand why she was in court!

The erosion of the once clear distinction between right and wrong is a global phenomenon. Young people have nothing to fear from their parents or the authorities because there is a whole raft of laws protecting them, which has helped create an entire generation of youth who believe they are untouchable. Every time they are slapped on the wrist or simply allowed to walk away from crimes they have committed it bolsters this belief and makes it difficult for victims to get any kind of justice for the crimes committed against them. This is the main reason, I believe, that bullying is on the increase.

Few cases of bullying are ever brought to court and when they are, they seldom result in a win for the victim. Every excuse in the book is given by defence lawyers ranging from a poor home life to over exhuberant high jinks. It is rare that those who pushed them to the brink are suitably punished. Is it any wonder that an increasing number of those who are being assaulted everyday believe the only way out of their torment is to take their own lives?

Because of the incredible psychological damage bullying often causes, it needs to be made a crime and punished properly. Take a look for yourself – surf the internet and read articles on the subject at your leisure. Victims are often maimed, crippled or killed whilst being assaulted. Why shouldn't teenagers who injure people this way after a campaign of bullying be punished the same way that one person assaulting another in the street would be? Surely the bullies should receive an even stiffer sentence as they targetted their victim and harrassed them relentlessly? What am I missing?