For a very long time crimes have been committed and gone unnoticed. They have occurred in places where people should feel safe and secure, and the very young have been the victims. Society has dismissed it as simply a fact of life, or considered it a rite of passage. Parents, teachers, and administrators have laughed it off, ignored it, or told the victims to “buck up”. But for those who face the terrorizing abuse of bullying on a daily basis, it is no joke. It is a tension that won’t subside, a knot in the pit of the stomach, embarrassment, fear, and sometimes physical pain.
Too often, bullying is ignored because it is an act between children or teens in the same age group. Since the perpetrators are children, they seem innocent of their actions, or simply don’t realize the consequences. There are many excuses, the most common of which is the fact that “this is the way it has always been”. The victims are often ashamed of their role, so they say nothing, or they have simply given up, believing that their peers or elders simply see them as weak cry babies. So they hold in the emotions, the pain, and eventually, the anger. We are only now seeing how that solution can manifest itself down the road in frustration and sometimes violence.
Yes, bullying is a criminal offense. It is abuse, emotionally and physically. It is torture that must be endured because the victims have no place to go, no way to avoid their tormentors, and, unfortunately, often no one to turn too to protect them. It can lead to a lifetime of poor self esteem, inhibitions, problems in social situations, and difficulties in being able to further life goals and careers. The damage is deep and lasting, and the fact that it has been initiated by other children makes it no less abhorrent.
Some are caught up in bullying through peer pressure, their need to fit into a group, or their inability to break from the crowd, speak their mind, and stand up for the victim. However, many of those who bully their way through school and get away with it, continue this attitude throughout their adult life. Some even remember those episodes proudly, considering themselves somehow superior because of their dominance. If adults threaten, terrorize, harass, or physically harm another individual, they can be charged with assault. Until we get past the concept that children are somehow above the law and not responsible for the crimes they commit, the crime of bullying will continue and some children will continue to spend what should be the best years of their lives in fear and sadness.