Criminal Consequences Of School Yard Bullying

The key lesson for young people is, if you are the victim of bullying, don’t take it into your own hands to get revenge.

You can defend yourself, but you cannot attack the bully when you are unprovoked or not in danger. Bullying is very tough to deal with and you have to go to the authorities to document it. You need to contact your parents, contact the principal or your teacher. Schools have zero tolerance of bullying and most have strategies and experts in place to help deal with the issue.

For the bullies, there could be a number of repercussions for their behaviour. They could be disciplined by the school principal. Ultimately, they could be expelled by school officials. The police may also be contacted and they could be charged with uttering threats. If the bullying is physical, they could be charged with assault. From the school perspective, I think that in the next couple of years, you will routinely see bullies charged with criminal harassment and fall under the control of law enforcement. Criminal harassment is tantamount to bullying, short of actually physically assaulting or touching somebody. If they keep pestering someone, if they keep teasing someone, if they keep calling someone names, that can reasonably fall within the context of the criminal harassment provision of the Criminal Code. I think you will see school officials and the police resorting to that charge for bullying behaviour in the near future.

Often the bully is required to get some counseling or to take an anger management course. What I think you will see as well is some sort of collaborative or community justice program employed whereby the bully and the victim get together in a supervised setting. The bully may make a formal apology and may get to know the victim and may get to realize that the victim shouldn’t be made fun of and shouldn’t be bullied. The victim will realize that the bully is not really a bad person himself, but he has his own issues, and that is why he acts out. This is good process because it heals both parties. It makes both parties able to co-exist in the same school and you’re eliminating the problem of bullying. This program would be ideal from a school perspective because it could continue without any major disruption to either of the students’ school years. If they can resolve it without any major disruption, that’s a win-win from both perspectives.

If you, or someone you care about, is dealing with criminal law issues in the Ottawa, Ontario Region, contact Engel and Associates for a consultation.

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