Social Question

jca's avatar

Do you think kids should be arrested for bullying?

Asked by jca (36043points) October 3rd, 2013

There was an article someone linked on FB this morning about a 12 year old girl in Stamford, CT, who was arrested for bullying. The girl apparently was taunting, harassing and bullying another student and the school tried to intervene but still, the bullying did not stop. I don’t think the article detailed the actions that the bully did in this case.

The article discusses briefly a student in Greenwich CT who committed suicide on the first day of school because of bullying.

In the comments, some people said that they feel arrest is warranted because schools are unable to stop bullies and because of red tape at the school level, or school rules, punishments from the school may be ineffective in dealing with it. Others said that arresting students is inappropriate and that there should be other ways of handling situations such as this.

Maybe once the law gets involved, they could mandate the girl to treatment or to a residential placement (in the old days, also known as boarding school) and/or treatment for the parents (aka therapy and parenting classes).

What do you think? Here’s the article in case you want to look at it:

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35 Answers

rojo's avatar

No. I think we need to come up with some kind of peer pressure type response like maybe making her an outcast for a week where no one acknowledges her existence but she still has to attend school and complete her regular schedule.

Or, some kind of setup where the rest of the school forms two lines and she has to run the gauntlet in granny panties and a ragged bra while being beaten with school supplies.

ucme's avatar

I saw a documentary last week about an Irish teenage girl whose family had moved to the US.
She was mercilessly bullied by a gang of girls & two boys, hounded at school & at home via cyber bullying. She ended up killing herself & at first the school did nothing, despite growing unrest from the local community. These bullies were eventually charged with various crimes, statutory rape, harassment etc.
They were all around fifteen/sixteen & the programme never did say what the outcome of the trial was, maybe it’s ongoing.
It was a truly tragic story & I found myself in full agreement with them being charged.
I think it was a school in Boston, if memory serves.

Coloma's avatar

These kids are troubled and need to be in therapy as well as suspended, permanently.
Arresting them is not going to make a difference, counseling and being ostricized is the only solution. The 3 strikes your out philosophy.

SnoopyGirl's avatar

I know this might sound a bit harsh, but I think it was good that the law got involved. I think there is a point where the schools can no longer do anything after getting parents involved. If the parents of the bullier can’t see that something is wrong with their child’s aggression, then there must be something going on in the family. If the bullier can continue to be so cruel and hurt another student to the point where they want to kill themselves; then that bullier needs some mental help. Personally, I think that is too much aggression for a child/teen to be carrying around inside and its a cry for help. One of my sons, who is 6 yrs old came home and told me this boy on the playground at recess was kicking him in the butt when he was bending down to put his drink in a basket to hold all the classroom drinks. I got upset because my son is in a new school system and is naturally trying to make friends. He shrugged it off. I told him to tell me if it happened again and it did. I told my son to tell the boy to stop it. I wanted to give my son strength and to not be afraid to speak up. The next day, the boy tried it again and Nicholas told him to stop it. The boy has left him alone since. As parents, its difficult to let our children get bullied. We need to teach our children to speak up more.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Maybe. I think expulsion and psychiatric care are more effective. The child being bullied, and the rest of the kids, must be protected.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Disorderly Conduct? What a joke. That’s what cops use when no law was actually broken, by they still want to or are pressured to make an arrest.

Until it’s against the law to be mean to someone else, the law shouldn’t be involved. If things become physical, then that’s a different story. Still, it’s not as if this 12-year-old will be convicted of anything. At best, it’ll scare the kid, but maybe not.

If anyone should be arrested, it’s the parents. Kids are assholes because their parents taught them to be assholes.

rojo's avatar

@livelaughlove21 mmmmmmmmmm not necessarily true, sometimes they can come to it all by themselves. The parents try but some people are just broken and are going to do what they want regardless.

Coloma's avatar

I agree with @rojo
There are plenty of decent parents whose kids are sociopathic by nature. There comes a time when a kids conduct is no longer their parents responsibility. True, many of these kids are from torubled homes to begin with, but you can’t make blanket statements.

It is like the archaic belief for years that it is always the mothers fault if her children turn out badly. Simply not true. Much after the pre-teen years kids make their own decisions and it is widely known that belonging to their peer group takes precedence over their family values at some point, for most.
Parents should take their kids behavior seriously, no doubt, but it is unfair to always blame the parents.

livelaughlove21's avatar

So all bullies are sociopathic? Interesting. Talk about a blanket statement.

If the parents do not address their child’s bahavior, they are to blame for it. This is a 12-year-old, the parent is still responsible and needs to do whatever it takes to correct the behavior as soon as it starts.

Children act the way they do because they are allowed to do so. Being sociopathic (which is actually an outdated term) is the exception, not the rule.

Coloma's avatar

@livelaughlove21 I didn’t say ” all”, I said “plenty”.
i simply said that some kids are sociopathic by nature and that issue has nothing to do with bad parenting. I also said parents should take their childrens behavior seriously.
Kids that drink and drive, drag race, kill their friends and many other poor choices are not things their parents would “allow.” So what if the term sociopath is outdated, a sociopath by any other name is still a sociopath, not a rose. lol

bolwerk's avatar

Under normal circumstances, no. But what do you do when the school won’t stop it and the parents won’t do anything? The next steps are social services or the police, neither of which are especially known for compassion.

Coloma's avatar

I will also add that one of the hallmarks of anti-social/sociopathic behavior is a lack of empathy, so yes, bullying most definitely is symptomatic of that terminology.
If a person cannot not identify with others as having feelings they lack the ability to relate to how their behavior effects others.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Coloma Having a symptom of a disorder does not mean you have the disorder. Lack of empathy is also a symptom of childhood.

Many kids are bullies. Very few people are sociopaths (1–3% of the population meet the criteria). Children cannot be diagnosed with sociopathy. Conduct Disorder is a childhood condition that has the potential to lead to an adult sociopathy/psychopathy diagnosis, but only 10% of kids meet that criteria.

I’ll admit that parents aren’t always part of the problem, but sociopathy is the problem in even fewer cases. Some kids are just mean.

Judi's avatar

Mandatory counseling and sensitivity courses on the weekend?

ragingloli's avatar

They should be arrested, tried, and then executed.
Actually, skip the trial. Just end them.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Chronic underfunding of most schools makes timely and appropriate interventions unlikely. Thank you republicans! Unless parents get involved in volunteering to support teachers and administrators, the rate of suicides among bullied students will continue to rise.

Coloma's avatar

@livelaughlove21 I agree with that, either/or..still the same results, cruelty.
At least with the non-disorderd child there is a chance they will outgrow their lack of empathy.

talljasperman's avatar

Yes.. I was cyber bullied in university and I contemplated suicide, I stopped going to classes and I avoided meals. I eventually failed thinking that everything was my fault. One big mindfuck.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@livelaughlove21 If the parents do not address their child’s bahavior, they are to blame for it. This is a 12-year-old, the parent is still responsible and needs to do whatever it takes to correct the behavior as soon as it starts.
Children act the way they do because they are allowed to do so.
BAHAHAHA BAHAHAHAHA! You must not live in the US, parents can do little here; the law has handed the keys to the Bentley to the butlers. This would never have been an issue in my neighborhood growing up, she would have gotten a warning the 1st time. The second time she would have tasted some belt leather or a paddle. The 3rd time more of the 2nd. She would either learn:

• A hard head makes a sore soft ass.
• Bullying is so not accepted.
• To love pain (as to keep on bullying and suffer the consequences).
• Bullying is a serious social offence.
• Not only does bullying come with pain to the rump but suspension from school.

I guess a generation of ”Dr. Spock” disciples have left the schools in control of the students with teachers who are more toothless tigers than roaring lions kids actually listen to.

JLeslie's avatar

Yes. Being arrested is much less of a penalty then if they are left unchecked and wind up really causing serious harm. They could be on trial for much more, like the case @ucme mentioned. Being arrested might be what avoid them being convicted for something truly awful. Not that bullying isn’t awful.

I wouldn’t say necessarily the cops should be brought in immediately, it depends on the situation. I also think releasing the kids to their parents for a first arrest is plenty, they don’t have to be dragged through the judicial system. But, scare the crap out them sounds good to me. The kids who are just going along from peer pressure will stop. The truly mean kids, the ones who need some mental health help won’t stop, and bigger measures will need to be taken.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central As a matter of fact, I do live in the US and parents still have the authority to discipline their children. They are not allowed to abuse their children in order to correct their behavior, but research shows that this is not necessary. My husband works with a guy whose step-son got a call home because he was bullying another kid. He addressed the situation immediately and made it quite clear to the boy that his behavior was completely unacceptable. He did not, however, take a switch to the boy’s ass. They haven’t had a problem with him since. Will this work with every child? No. Does spanking/hitting work for every child? No. But it’s up to the parent to figure out what works for their individual child before these situations arise. Some parents seem to think bullying is just part of “being a kid” or that the bullied are turning themselves into victims by being weak or sensitive.

I know that disciplining a child doesn’t always work. My step-brother had a hard childhood before he came to live with us at the age of 10. My step-father did what he thought was right – spanked/hit him – whenever he did something wrong (which was a lot). My sister and I never got spanked because he was always the one getting caught sneaking out, smoking cigarettes, doing drugs, drinking, being involved in a gang, etc. No father-son pow-wow was going to keep him from acting out. Is he a sociopath? No. He was just a criminal in the making. He is now incarcerated and will be for at least another 10 years. Some kids just cannot correct their behavior no matter what measures are taken by the parents. However, like I said about sociopathy, this is an exception, not a rule.

I honestly believe that if the behavior is caught early, the parents should be able to correct it with most children, but too few of them even attempt to do so for various reasons. I’ve heard parents say, “Well, I’d rather my child be the bully rather than the bullied.” What an ignorant statement. How about they be neither?

YARNLADY's avatar

It’s something that has to be evaluated on a case by case basis. In your example, the school first tried to intervene, but when that didn’t work, they called law enforcement.

It doesn’t seem there are any levels of help between school rules and the police. In our area, the police cannot afford to respond to any other than serious crimes. The local police chief once publicly stated they will no longer investigate home burglaries, so I would think bullies would be in that category as well, unless there was actual physical assault.

As a parent, I would simply take my child out of school – which I did.

rojo's avatar

My sons best friend in high school committed suicide. Not because of the bullying by other kids but because the school did little in the way of disciplinary action; all they did was call the law and haul the kids in. From there is was a court date and being issued some form of civic duty punishment and always with a fine. This in itself was a form of state sanctioned bullying.

The note he left said he couldn’t take it anymore, that he couldn’t control himself enough to make others happy and that there was no way he could ever pay up all the fines he had accumulated. He apologized to his parents and told them that at least with him dead they would not have to pay all those fines.

Then he hung himself from a tree in the back yard.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@rojo That is so sad. That’s why teaching kids/ adults to stand up for themselves and love themselves even if they’re different is SO important. Build each other up so no one can tear us down.

I was bullied and went home and cried to mom, asking what I should do and she said I had to make a decision to face it head on or hide and hope for the best. I decided to face it head on and have been ever since, it was a good life lesson.

ragingloli's avatar

in florida, they could just give every child a gun and remind them of the stand your ground law. this will solve 100% of all school yard violence, guaranteed!

talljasperman's avatar

@ragingloli That would test whether good hand eye coordination from playing video games is real.

Coloma's avatar

I was the only little blue eyed blonde girl in Jr. High in New Mexico, where my dad was working as an Architect for the bureau of indian affairs. I was the ONLY anglo child in a mexican american/native american school/community.
The boys were in love with me, the girls hated me and I got the shit kicked outta me in 7th grade until I shoved the bully girl off the bus into a snow drift. Problem solved.

Then, when the other kids realized I was also a brainiac child and cute to boot..well…enter little miss popularity. lol

JLeslie's avatar

@ucme I thought you might like to know that America did cover that story in the news and media pretty well. It received quite a bit of attention on a national level.

@rojo So, are you saying the child should have received counseling instead of being arrested? Why do you think he kept misbehaving?

@Coloma I have a blond haired girlfriend who grew up in NM, she was one of three “white” students in her class. Even her name is extremely white, think of names like Ingrid and Kirstin, and she definitely felt the minority status.

ucme's avatar

@JLeslie I’d have been shocked if it hadn’t.

JLeslie's avatar

@ucme Well, unfortunately there are a lot of suicides in America, not all do get covered.

mattbrowne's avatar

We need solutions on how to deal with bad parenting.

A bully like the girl mentioned above might need a Big Sister, see

which is a “non-profit organization whose mission is to help children reach their potential through professionally supported, one-to-one relationships with mentors. Big Brothers Big Sisters is one of the oldest and largest youth mentoring organizations in the United States.”

Arrests won’t solve the problem.

ucme's avatar

@JLeslie I’m sure that’s the case, but it’s wandering off the point slightly.

Paradox25's avatar

Here’s how I view an issue such as this. I don’t believe that people have the universal right to harass or insult others, regardless of the situation. If I go to a movie, nightclub, park, etc I don’t expect to be harrassed or assaulted. However, if someone would try to pick a fight with me then in my opinion they should have to face some legal consequences. Why should school, which is compulsory on top of everything else, be an exception?

Maybe I would question the penalties in some circumstances given to offenders, but we should be treating bullying for what it is, harassment at its mildest form. However, bullying is something that can evolve into much more serious violations of the law, as well as more serious problems for the victim.

I’m on the side that most cultures emphasize masculinity, as can be demonstrated by roadside billboards, advertising, the media, etc. Essentially most cultures, along with immature parents (I see this personally too often) pretty much generate our culture of violence, but then the same people supporting overly masculine cultures are usually the first ones to ask ‘why’ when someone loses it and guns down many people.

My take on issues like these that is rather than training kids to survive in an immoral society, what we should be doing instead is teaching kids empathy and compassion so their generations don’t perpetuate the same madness.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Certain types of bullying, carefully defined in law, should be criminal offences. Bullying is always hurtful but it is not always criminal. Other types of responses would be called for to stop the lower level bullying before it escalates. Involving the bully’s parents or guardians is a good place to start.

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