Going Too Far
A lot of actions which fall under the bullying umbrella are clearly illegal when performed by an adult. Harassment, for instance, is generally defined as unwanted, persistent attention or behavior, and it’s a fairly apt way to describe what it is a bully does when he or she picks on a victim.
Of course, juvenile laws are different from adult laws for a very good reason: minors are still learning how their actions affect others and the world around them. Getting in trouble for doing the wrong thing is a part of this process. There’s also a certain “thick skin” principle where you can’t expect compensation or even an apology for every minor insult. On the other hand, it’s still entirely possible for a child to go beyond all reasonable limits.
For instance, no child should have to deal with regular, persistent physical violence, especially when he or she does nothing to instigate it and doesn’t fight back. Even if the harassment isn’t physical, it can become excessive if it completely takes over a child’s social life or else involves stalking someone and refusing to leave him or her alone. And with as much time as today’s children spend online, it can be just as serious if it happens exclusively through the internet.
There is a perfectly good reason for why the practice of hazing exists. Psychologically speaking, the harder it is to gain membership in an organization, the more a person will treasure that membership. Hazing new members is all about making things difficult and therefore making new members loyal and proud.
However, there’s also a perfectly good reason why hazing is frowned upon both in high schools and in colleges. While this sort of bullying is entirely voluntary and new members can opt out if they don’t think joining the group is worth the trouble, the fact is that many hazing rituals are actively dangerous and can potentially cause permanent injuries or even death if they are performed a little too zealously or on someone who is just a little too weak.
Giving someone a hard time so he or she will appreciate what they’re getting is one thing, but putting someone in serious danger is something else entirely.
A Number Of Solutions
Filing a personal injury or criminal lawsuit should not be your first response if your son or daughter is suffering from persistent bullying at school or elsewhere. Instead, you should contact the adults in charge of the children in question, whether that happens to be the school staff, the instructors or supervisors at after school activities, or even the instigating children’s own parents or guardians. It’s their responsibility as much as it is yours to keep children from misbehaving, and while incidents will happen, they can at least try to stop them from persisting. You might also remove your child from the school or activity to end contact with the bully in question.
However, if every appeal fails and every reasonable punishment does nothing to stop the inappropriate behavior, then it may be time to get the law involved. A civil lawsuit against the school may be warranted if you believe the staff didn’t do everything in its power to stop the bullying or hazing from happening. This does have the effect of removing funds from the education system, but it may be that a financial penalty is the only way for the school authorities to take notice and do something about the bullying problem at their school.
Boys will be boys, and girls will be girls, and there’s not much anyone can do to change those facts. But just because children can be cruel doesn’t mean that we should shrug off everything they do..