Ruth Marcus: Does it make sense to criminalize bullying?

My heart aches for the parents of Phoebe Prince, the 15-year-old Massachusetts high school student who committed suicide in January after being relentlessly bullied at school and online. Full Story
Robert J G Jackson Sr

Westminster, CA

#1 Apr 7, 2010
Ms. Marcus seems to think that this matter should not be pursued legally. Really? Pheobe hanged herself due to the constant abuse she was enduring. The other children involved are certainly responsible, by virtue of their behavior. Should the responsible adults at the school been more involved? Certainly. Should the prosecutor pursue charges against the people who actually performed the abusive behavior? Of course. Ms. Marcus herself states that the behavioral consultant was told that there was "no visible sign that these kids had faced consequences for what they had done." That is one of the biggest problems in modern society. A lack of consequences. After all, there is the usual type of bullying and name calling which goes on in every school, but in a controlled manner, a manner withing some kind of reason. Then there is an extreme example, such as in this case, which drives a young teenager to end her life. Can you criminalize bullying? Perhaps not. But these kids are charged with various offenses which are illegal, including the statutory rape mentioned in the article. If Ms. Marcus wishes to wipe these offenses off the books, she shoule work to do so. In the meantime, those guilty of such offenses should be charged and prosecuted.
just now

Madisonville, KY

#2 Apr 9, 2010
There was never a need to "criminalize" things such as this because folks would get fed up and end the situation by violence. Now, it is a crime to take action so we are left with laws to protect us. If it were not for laws, I would expect each of these little monsters AND their families to be long dead.
Robert J G Jackson Sr wrote:
Ms. Marcus seems to think that this matter should not be pursued legally. Really? Pheobe hanged herself due to the constant abuse she was enduring. The other children involved are certainly responsible, by virtue of their behavior. Should the responsible adults at the school been more involved? Certainly. Should the prosecutor pursue charges against the people who actually performed the abusive behavior? Of course. Ms. Marcus herself states that the behavioral consultant was told that there was "no visible sign that these kids had faced consequences for what they had done." That is one of the biggest problems in modern society. A lack of consequences. After all, there is the usual type of bullying and name calling which goes on in every school, but in a controlled manner, a manner withing some kind of reason. Then there is an extreme example, such as in this case, which drives a young teenager to end her life. Can you criminalize bullying? Perhaps not. But these kids are charged with various offenses which are illegal, including the statutory rape mentioned in the article. If Ms. Marcus wishes to wipe these offenses off the books, she shoule work to do so. In the meantime, those guilty of such offenses should be charged and prosecuted.
Aaron S

United States

#3 Apr 9, 2010
I think the unparented, uncivilized perp's parents are lucky to have not been hanged already.

Like Pit Bulls, it is ridiculous to blame the Dogs, or the Children in this case, for bad behavior, you blame the Owner/Parent.

The Parents of all of those convicted should do minimum 20 years in Prison for this failure to civilize their spawn.

Parents have an option. If they aren't going to civilize their spawn they should have had a legal abortion in order to protect decent people.
Dario Western

Surfers Paradise, Australia

#4 May 3, 2011
Aaron S: I disagree totally with your inane comments.

*YOU* commit the crime,*YOU* do the time, NOT your parents! There are shitty parents out there whose children are polite and well-behaved, as well as good parents whose children turn out to become teen-20something monsters.

Bullying regardless of whether it's kids or adults who are responsible for it needs to become a jailable offence, and in the case of cyberbullying the offenders being denied access to any form of communication technology again by having their fingers and tongues cut out. That'll teach them.

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