Bullying should be a crime

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Source : Google photo

Synopsis: A great tragedy occurs when someone is bullied; It can be in schools, colleges, workplace or in the playground in your community. It can be a physical, psychological or mental abuse and happens frequently to those who are weak and vulnerable. It should be condemned and prevented by those in authority.

Many of us grow up with painful memories of being bullied in our schools when young. In schools and colleges around the world, bullying goes on inflicting often a damage that cannot be undone to so many boys and girls. Most grow out of it and put it down to a nasty episode during their childhood and get on with their lives. But there are many who feel the pain years afterwards and cannot shake off their humiliation in the hands of bullies who tormented them every day.

The bully is a gender neutral culprit. The girls are just as vicious as bullies as the boys and will often gang up on a smart kid who is ahead of everybody in her class and minds her own business. If she is pretty to boot, it causes intense jealousy among not so smart girls so they bully their classmates.

In the movie Forrest Gump, the poor boy with braces on his legs was bullied by other kids so he learned to run away from them even if it was very painful for him to run with braces. His only friend was Jenny who said Run Forrest run so that he could escape the torment.

The school ground is a fertile place where the bullies have the power over meek and weak students who cannot run away like Forrest and suffer the consequences because the teachers or the principal cannot always protect the weak and humble from the bullies outside the classroom.

During our college days we knew about a severe form of bullying by older students that was called ragging. They beat up new students as a part of their initiation rites to join their fraternities or sororities that often resulted in the death of the student.

It happens here in the Philippines where many have lost their precious lives because of ragging so now the schools and colleges are expelling the bullies and file criminal cases against them but it still goes on because such bullies often come from families with money so they can bribe their way out of their problems where the justice system is corrupt or where they have powerful people to back them up.

The vicious female bullies force the new applicants to their sororities to perform degrading acts including sexual humiliation before they accept them in the name of initiation rites while their male counterparts resort to violent methods that are condemned by all but still in practice in many college campuses. It is more common in the western societies but also happens elsewhere.

When I was in high school, there were some bullies who came from uneducated and poor families and thought that bullying kids who came from educated middle class families was the thing to do to prove their worth. Most of them did badly in school and dropped off because they were not smart and their parents could not keep up with the school expenses. Many such bullies got into violent crimes later on and ended up in jails or worse so their life was pitiful.

Later in college, I was confronted by a bully who one day put a huge dead insect in my pocket to see my reaction. I promptly put it back in his pocket. He never bothered me again.

You will notice that most bullies are that way and end up as social deviants hooked on drugs and crime that finishes them off but there are some who get wiser and grow out of it later blaming it on their excessive testosterone that makes them aggressive.

The humans have the animal instinct due to the excessive hormones so some of them get into fights easily over women at a certain age just like the animals. In the animal kingdom the females mate with the winner in a dog fight to inherit stronger genes for their offspring so I wonder if it is also true in us humans. Our ancestors were apes if Darwin is to be believed.

The act of bullying is an overt expression of sexual aggressiveness at a certain age but it also shows the mental immaturity of a person who feels manly by showing off his brutal nature to a weak person this way.

In the movie The karate kid we saw how the kid was bullied relentlessly by stronger kids who took karate lessons and practiced on the poor kid until Mr. Miyagi came to his rescue and trained him to be a karate champion.

It is interesting to know that most bullies are cowards but in a perverse attempt to hide their cowardice they become bullies. They back off when they face a strong person who takes no such nonsense from anyone.

Among the kids, the harassment starts early in their life when they get on their school bus and find that no one gives him a seat or they take his food from his plate in the cafeteria. The bullies enjoy the sport of tripping someone who falls down on his face and gets hurt or they spill food and drinks on him or her just because it causes great embarrassment to the victim. So any form of bullying is a sign of immaturity and inferior complex that they try to hide by acting aggressively toward someone who means no harm.

Later you see the extreme form of bullying in the army boot camps where it is done to toughen up the new recruits who receive punishment for very minor infractions in front of other recruits. The sergeant who is responsible to “shape up” the recruits is a vicious person who has no mercy and no limit to his vulgar vocabulary. It is all done in the army tradition in the boot camp where they pick on people who are not strong enough or who fail in their endurance tests and call them faggots meaning homosexuals.

There was a movie I can’t recall the title of where a tormented cadet got so unhinged because of constant bullying and name calling that he took his gun and shot dead the tormentor.

There is a similar situation where a kid of Korean descent who was ignored, often harassed and looked down upon by his white classmates became revengeful and one day shot dead scores of innocent people in a campus in Virginia to express his rage. He also lost his own life.

Most bullied people do not resort to violent actions of any kind and try to cope with their situation as best as they can or change schools if that helps. But many suffer from the memory of bullying later in their life.

There is another severe form of bullying where someone with authority like a priest takes advantage of children and molests them sexually with the threat of expulsion from the church if they tell anyone. The church ignores such crimes and often hides them to protect the priests although many have been exposed and defrocked who are now facing criminal charges in many countries. Read my blog called the Challenges facing Vatican

What is so unfortunate is the fact that a confession made by a victim of such abuse or a perpetrator himself is kept confidential because that is the church law even if a crime should be reported to the police.

But the bullying can also start at home where a very strict father bullies his children or spouse all the time that can have severe detrimental effect on the child or the spouse. I know a case where a fellow in our neighborhood so mistreated his only son that he grew up hating the parents and one day shoved his mother hard who fell down and died. The father had been dead a long time but the animosity in the kid lingered resulting in the tragedy.

There is another case where a person so mistreated his very intelligent daughter that she became insane and was locked up in her home all the time. We could see her pitiful face through the window but could do nothing to help her. Finally the people in the community could take it no longer and asked the fellow to leave because he was also abusing his wife.

So bullying in any form whether mental, physical or psychological should be treated as a crime and the perpetrators punished to the full extent of the law but sadly such laws are not enacted or poorly implemented in many countries. As I mentioned earlier, often such crimes are unreported due to church laws or because the bully is the son of a prominent politician.

What is the solution?

I think the solution to the act of aggression that leads to bullying can come from the parents. Those who fail to teach their children that bullying anyone is a crime and do nothing even if told that his kids are bullies are the problem so they need counseling.

But such people cannot be helped unless they admit that they have a problem and are seeking a solution. The counseling should include their children who should explain why they do what they do to get to the root of the problem. It may expose deep psychological or other issues that are behind such behavior so that need to be addressed.

The schools should have better system of protecting the weak and vulnerable and expel the bullies as a last resort that may prevent them from going to other schools. If a crime is committed then it should be reported to the authorities for disciplinary actions.

A lot of aggressive behavior in students comes from their racial viewpoints that originate from their parents or the community where they live so racism in any form in school or outside should not be tolerated. The ethnic minorities, people of color and new immigrants who have a different religion and accent are often subject to bullying so the school should make an effort to better integrate them and by educating the racists with education and information about others who are different.

There was a Sikh girl in the United States who had facial hair which is caused by a genetic disorder so she was constantly bullied in school but she was a sweet girl who explained to everybody that it was not her fault that she had facial hair. She was able to win her detractors by explaining and educating them about her religion.

A lot of problems related to the aggressive nature of some people who resort to bullying others to feel themselves superior to others can be avoided on campus.

One way is not to join any fraternity or sorority that practices ragging and beatings as the initiation rite. Such practices should be banned outright by the school and such students should be expelled so that they cannot transfer to another college somewhere and continue.

I had expressly warned our two kids about the perils of joining the fraternities and sororities when they started their university life so they stayed away because they listened to me. If students live on campus and away from their homes like many do, they come under intense pressure from the recruiters who entice them to join them with the promise of lifelong support for each other and help with jobs later on. It is known that many people who are prominent now were once frat members themselves and will do something to help a frat member who now seeks his attention.

The campus brawls between the various fraternities are common so they create problems for the students who may get hurt. Often it starts over a female student but it can be something else due to strong rivalry among the fraternities and sororities to get new recruits.

I strongly condemn all forms of bullying, ragging and human degradation through aggressive behavior and appreciate those who take a strong stand against it and do something about it if it is within their power to do so. I appreciate schools and colleges where such behavior is not tolerated and where such students are required to take counseling to improve their behavior.

But finally it all starts at home. If you raise a monster, he will be out of control and will become a bully. He will not only hurt others, he will hurt himself because sooner or later he will suffer the consequences.

So start raising your kids with love and compassion so that one day they will become responsible adults with empathy for all.

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I am the village bard who loves to share his stories.

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