Should Bullying Be Criminalized?

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Bullying in Schools

Bullying is a significant topic of discussion in schools today. It refers to a situation where an individual behaves aggressively or menacingly towards their colleague which is common in schools. The negative behaviour can either be the aggressor attacking the victim through physical abuse, creating intimidating propaganda, threatening or giving negative comments aimed at hurting the victim's character and wellbeing. In extreme cases, bullying leads to an individual being eliminated from the group hence feeling isolated. The operator is aware that they can only impact the victim by their actions being repeated for an extended period. Various schools have taken the initiative to develop rules that aim at minimizing bullying (Albertson, 243). Should bullies be treated as criminals? The purpose of this paper is to develop an argumentative essay on bullying being treated as a criminal case.

The Severe Effects of Bullying

Bullying should be considered a crime due to the severe effects directed to the victim. Various research has proved that bullying robs of the victim's self-esteem. Hence they may end up suffering from a psychological and mental disorder that can lead to school dropout, medical issues and even suicidal attempts (Albertson 243). Today, various adults still have trauma over their school experience in bullying. In other words, criminalizing bullying will be useful since other won't have to suffer for the rest of their lives due to actions were taken by their colleagues during elementary or high school education. The only way of making the school life comfortable and inspiring is by making bullies have their dues in the courtroom.

Bullying and Tragic Death

Bullying should be criminalized since it can end in a tragic death. Colloquially referred to ‘bullycide’ it is among the major contributor to suicide in elementary and high school. According to the ABC news, about 30% of students are victims of bullying and have suicidal thoughts. A good example is the case of Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old girl who hanged herself after being harassed by her classmates. The report indicated that Phoebe had been bullied for more than three months hence the suicidal thoughts had matured over a long period (Kupchik and Katie, 155). This is just a single example of many cases of bullying that lead to suicide. Bullying starts with negative behaviour such as racism, gender biases and it can never be right. Therefore, criminalizing bullying will save more future lives since bulliers will be scared of being dealt with the law (Kupchik and Katie, 152).

Bullying Sign of Irresponsibility

Bullying is intentional and a sign of bringing up irresponsible citizens. People often argue that bullies do not see the consequences of their action hence they may not understand how emotionally and physically harm others. Such an argument is often irrational since bullies understand their intention hence prolong it on victims to get their desired results. Criminalizing bullying will be helpful to both victims and oppressors (Kupchik and Katie, 150). The victim can be saved from future trauma, school dropout, poor performance and suicidal thoughts. On the other hands, bullies will be safeguarded from the future consequences of action. Many sociologists believe that eliminating negative behaviour at an early age will make them responsible behaviour. Bullies can be punished through courts. Extreme cases of bullying can be taken to juvenile for correction. In short, the problem of bullying in schools will not go away on its own there needs for strong punishment that can serve as an example and criminalizing will be the best move (Kupchik and Katie, 150).

The Need for Criminal Proceedings

Bullying in schools is getting out of control hence there is a need for a criminal proceeding to address it. Many people who oppose the criminalization of bullying have never experienced the impact. Bullying in high school is on the rise since the schools have not yet developed strict measures to address the issue. Bullies end up escaping punishment while victims become more intimidated than before. It is for this reason that victims end up not reporting the case to the administration since nothing will be done to address the concern. The moment Americans begin looking at bullying at a serious perspective is when they will improve the lives of children in schools. Nothing good comes from bulling hence criminalizing it is the final options. Kids are mentally teased, and in the worst condition, they end up being killed. Only parents who have lost their kids as a result of bullying feel the pain. The only time the issue of bullying is addressed is when shocking and regretful events like physical abuse, suicide attempt or death occur.

Opposition to Criminalization

Opposers believe that ending bullying is the duty of parents and institutions. In other words, parent and the school should be the one to suffer the consequence in case bullying leads to adverse results (Temkin). It cannot be denied that parents and schools can make kids more bullies in case they are not taught on the consequences of unwanted behaviour. Irresponsible upbringing children will encourage the development of bullying behaviour. However, children end up doing things that the school and their parents forbid there. Teachers an parents will not always be available to control how student interact with each other. Punishing the behaviour at a court level will communicate to the student on the level of seriousness of the offence hence they can attempt to avoid the behaviour. Moreover, blaming parents and school in courts will only encourage the behaviour because the real offender will escape without punishment (Temkin).

Bullying as a Complex Issue

Opposers believe that criminalizing of bullying will bring more harm than good to kids. No matter the consequences of bullying, it should not be criminalized but treated according to institutional rules. On the event where the school is not able to handle the case, then it could be taken to court. Although bullying is a negative behaviour, criminalizing it will not be the best approach to handle the issue. Youths commit suicide for many reasons including substance abuse, post-trauma, low self-esteem and breakup of relationships. 90% of suicidal attempts are as a result of depression (Temkin). Although someone’s behaviour could be the main factor for suicide, under the criminal, it is wrong to state that the actions of an individual led to suicide. It is against the constitution to hold an individual accountable for the suicide case when everyone has been empowered with the freedom of speech. Conducts of physical abuse can be treated as a criminal offence but hindering the freedom of speech will clog the criminal justice reputation in following the constitution (Temkin).

Challenges of Criminalization

Criminalizing bullying in schools will impose substantial liabilities on the criminal justice department. Currently, America is still handling the issue of understaffing and congestions in the juvenile system. Criminalizing bullying will put pressure on the juvenile system since there is the issue of lack of space (Temkin). There are adverse effects of congestion like lack of personalized care, the spread of disease, advanced bullying and sexual harassment. Although the juvenile system offers rehabilitation and correction programs, students will not gain much mainly due to insufficient resources. Also, the cost of running juvenile institution is high and increasing the number of the juvenile will only put pressure on the government budgeting. The financial expenses of putting bullies in the juvenile system while looking at the availability of facilities should also be considered. Kids might come to such facilities to pass the time while they might not benefit from the programs (Temkin).

Mental Capacity of Children

Also, it would be wrong to criminalize bullying since kids do not have the requisite mental capacity to be held accountable in the criminal justice department. The behavioral correction of kids and young teenagers would not be helpful in custody. Elementary and high school students aged between 7 and 14 should be considered incapable of committing crime hence their cases of bullying should not be criminalized. Infants need to be protected by the law rather than exposed to it since they might have the mental ability to defend themselves from bullying accusations (Kupchik and Katie, 150).


Criminalization of bullying is often a heated debate in America. Many Americans believe that criminalizing bullying is the best way to stop it due to the severe impacts on the victims. Also, criminalizing it will make bullies fear the consequences of their actions since the institutional level will not effectively handle such cases. On the other hand, criminalizing bullying will lead to bringing more harm than good to children. Kids cannot find a behavioral correction in custody while they are not in a position to be answerable to their action in the criminal justice. Criminalizing bullying will also lead to congestion of juvenile care systems. Although bullying needs to be stopped, there is a need for an evidence-based solution to the problem. There is a need for more research on an evidence-based approach to solving the issue before it gets out of hand.

Work Cited

Albertson, Alicia K. "Criminalizing bullying: Why Indiana should hold the bully responsible." Ind. L. Rev. 48 (2014): 243.

Temkin, D. "Why criminalizing bullying is the wrong approach." The Huffington Post (2014).

Kupchik, Aaron, and Katie A. Farina. "Imitating authority: Students’ perceptions of school punishment and security, and bullying victimization." Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice14.2 (2016): 147-163.

August 14, 2023

Crime Law

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