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?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Very insightful article. Although the amount of incidents where bullying ends in suicide or injury as glamourized by media is as rare as bullies falling under criminal punishment when compared to the amount of bullying that actually exists, thankfully. Laws in defense of minors that exist now have always, as unfair as one may think they are there are already far too many minors behind bars tried as adults over their decisions. Which based on the state u live in could be good or bad. In one state a 15 yr old kid accidentally killed his best friend n neighbor while wrestling. He's not coming out. In another state a 14 yr old on drugs n being coerced by his mother stabbed a woman 64 times, she died and the killer was released on his 21st birthday based on that stares laws. If we prosecute bullies in court, were not fixing a problem only covering it up while filling our already over crowded prisons just to make the families of those who suffered from being bullied left to actually foot the bill for the bully to sit in jail.