Debate Title should Bullying be Considered a Criminal Offense – Yes

Bullying is the use of force to intimidate or abuse others. There are three types of abuse used in bullying including verbal, emotional and physical abuse. Bullying in school or the workplace is called peer bullying. Bullying can take place in person, on the internet (cyber bullying), over cell phones (sexting), and through spreading malicious rumors verbally. There is evidence that bullying has led to increased suicide rates particularly among teenagers.

The adage “That which does not kill us, only serves to make us stronger” is not necessarily true with bullying, especially among vulnerable teenagers. 4,500 teenagers commit suicide each year and is the 3rd leading cause of death (auto accidents are #1 and homicides are #2) among teenagers In Australia, 700 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 committed suicide because of cyber bullying. New Jersey schools saw 12,024 reported bullying cases in 2012 alone.

Many teens miss days at school or drop out of school because of bullying. When a teen fears going to school because of bullying, bullying should be considered a criminal offense with punishment befitting the bullying. Currently there are 19 states with anti-bullying laws. The states are Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

Forty nine states require schools to address school bullying in some way. However, a 2011 report by the Department of Education showed that only a handful of states follow practices shown to be effective in school bullying. Making children feel safe and empowered in school is vital for the ability to learn.   

The time is now for a federal anti-bullying law. Support for federal bullying legislation has grown, garnering bipartisan support and President Obama endorsed SSIA (Safe Schools Improvement Act) in 2012.

Amanda Todd’s tragic suicide in 2012 was the result of the endless torment of the bullies in her life. At the end of the week of Amanda’s suicide, eight girls in London, Ontario, were arrested for bullying and have been charged with criminal harassment. Bullying of any children, especially children of different cultures or of different sexual orientations must no longer be tolerated. Most schools have, thus far, been ineffective in stopping school bullying. Bullies commit criminal acts and should be charged with criminal offenses. The punishment should be swift and harsh. Having bullies work in community services, work with victims of bullying, receive psychiatric care, allow zero social networking and be under house arrest, instead of incarceration, is needed if we are to stop bullying. Victims of bullies should also receive counseling and any necessary psychiatric care.

Only after these measures will there be a reduction in bullying in our schools. A slap on the hands only gives the bully a sense of false bravado and does nothing to change his bullying behavior. For all you crying liberals, if it was your child who was scared to go to school, and was being emotionally or physically damaged, you might have a change of heart about considering bullying a criminal offense.