Author Topic: Why Aren't There More Prosecutions For Bullying?  (Read 3997 times)

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Offline TheReasonator

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Why Aren't There More Prosecutions For Bullying?
« on: October 12, 2012, 03:16:21 pm »
Such as when it amounts to assault and battery (i.e. any school beating).

Or why aren't there more civil lawsuits when people spread gossip at schools?

I notice so many stories about kids committing suicide over bullying, including one who did just before he was about to have a fight with a bully who had given him death threats before. Why not just press charges? And worse yet his family said they "did everything they could". NO, they didn't. They didn't try to press charges. What keeps people from doing this when it comes to school? Is there some kind of weird mental block people somehow acquire where "school" turns into this "otherworld" where different rules apply that even parents somehow have stuck in their heads?

When I am a parent I will tell my kids about bullying and what to do about it (talk to me and I will go to police or to the civil suit lawyer as appropriate) before they even start school. If necessary I will give them hidden cameras to capture the evidence. Every parent should do this. If every parent did this bullying would end.

Offline Witchyjoshy

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Re: Why Aren't There More Prosecutions For Bullying?
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2012, 03:47:39 pm »
And worse yet his family said they "did everything they could". NO, they didn't. They didn't try to press charges. What keeps people from doing this when it comes to school?

First of all, you can lay off on blaming the family of the victim unless the family can actually be proven to contribute the the child's suicidal state, especially in a case like this.  I know someone who committed suicide and I'm not about to point any fingers at his family, who experienced an extremely traumatic grief.

Second of all, as for the reason why they don't prosecute it, and the reason why this stuff doesn't get reported is kinda multi-layered.

1. The kid doesn't report it because "snitches get stitches", or because the school has one of those moronic "Everyone in an altercation gets the same punishment" deal.
2. The staff doesn't do anything about it because...
a. "kids will be kids"
b. they can't prove the bullying is actually happening (this is the most major reason -- it's extremely hard to get presentable evidence of bullying.  The bully's family will likely insist that their perfect little angel is just that -- a perfect little misunderstood angel)

There's most likely other factors, but these are the ones I'm aware of.
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Offline erictheblue

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Re: Why Aren't There More Prosecutions For Bullying?
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2012, 05:42:15 pm »
Such as when it amounts to assault and battery (i.e. any school beating).

Because it has to be proved beyond the shadow of a doubt. That means someone (probably other students) would have to testify against the bully. (If it is just the victim's word, it becomes a he-said, she-said.) That means other students would be at risk of being beaten up for standing up.

I got the opportunity to watch the trial for battery at a school. It was far from clear-cut, even when a teacher testified about what he saw (which was only the tail end of the altercation).

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Or why aren't there more civil lawsuits when people spread gossip at schools?

Cost, and probably no grounds for a suit.

Lawyers have to make money, and the only way that happens is through lawyer's fees. So either the lawyer has to charge their client, the lawyer has to take the case on contingency, or the lawyer has to do it pro bono. The first means the client has to pay, which can run to thousands of dollars. In a contingency, the lawyer only gets paid if (1) he wins, and (2) the defendant can actually pay. (It does no good to order $50,000 in damages if the defendant is what we call "judgement-proof," he has no money to pay.) Pro bono is nice for the client, but lawyers can only do so much pro bono work because we have to eat and pay our mortgages, too.

There's also the issue of there being no legal basis for a suit. Gossiping is not a tort, unless it can qualify as slander. There are strict requirements for slander, and most gossiping does not rise to that level. In addition, there have to be financial damages - something that the court can put a number on. Saying "my feelings were hurt" or "I was unhappy" are not sufficient.

An argument can be made for the tort "intentional infliction of emotional distress." But not all states recognize IIED, and even in those that do, the standard is very high. The major sticking point is that the conduct must be "outrageous," which is defined as "exceeding all bounds of decency tolerated in a civilized society." Telling tales on someone does not come close to that standard.

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I notice so many stories about kids committing suicide over bullying, including one who did just before he was about to have a fight with a bully who had given him death threats before. Why not just press charges?

If no fight had occurred, there would be no charges to press. The fight hadn't happened, so there is no battery. Assault requires putting someone in immediate fear of imminent touching.

A specific anti-bullying statute may qualify, but then the elements of the statute must be proved.

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And worse yet his family said they "did everything they could". NO, they didn't. They didn't try to press charges.

See above.

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What keeps people from doing this when it comes to school? Is there some kind of weird mental block people somehow acquire where "school" turns into this "otherworld" where different rules apply that even parents somehow have stuck in their heads?

The problem is that schools are NOT another world. Schools (and students) are subject to the same laws as people outside, which means the same legal requirements must be met. (There are certain search and seizure exceptions, but those are not applicable here, so I am ignoring them.) If no crime has been committed (and without specific anti-bullying statutes, there may not have been), no charges can be brought. If no legally recognized tort has been committed, there is no grounds for a civil suit. And even if there is grounds for either a criminal or civil charge, the charge must be proven, which is easier said than done.

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When I am a parent I will tell my kids about bullying and what to do about it (talk to me and I will go to police or to the civil suit lawyer as appropriate)

Nice words, but you will likely get nowhere.
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Offline Smurfette Principle

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Re: Why Aren't There More Prosecutions For Bullying?
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2012, 10:34:36 pm »
And this is why I like having an actual lawyer writing smackdowns.

Offline rookie

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Re: Why Aren't There More Prosecutions For Bullying?
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2012, 01:30:27 pm »
When I am a parent I will tell my kids about bullying and what to do about it (talk to me and I will go to police or to the civil suit lawyer as appropriate) before they even start school. If necessary I will give them hidden cameras to capture the evidence. Every parent should do this. If every parent did this bullying would end.

Ah, this. I gotta tell you, Reasonator, I really do love when I hear people say how parents should be raising kids. Normally, I'd just sit here laughing at points of view like this. But today for some reason, I'll play along.

First, let me say many many parents do tell their kids about bullying. In defining it, what they should do about it, as many aspects as they can think of. Also, many parents read the school handbooks, including the section dealing with bullying.

Hidden cameras, huh? Just going to sidestep some laws to enforce the others all on your own. Probably a good idea. And I'm sure Parent Reasonator isn't worried about any blow back from privacy laws and such. After all, it's just a fine.

Lastly, what makes you think this will stop bullying? <- That there makes it a direct question.
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Offline TheReasonator

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Re: Why Aren't There More Prosecutions For Bullying?
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2012, 04:28:54 pm »
Lastly, what makes you think this will stop bullying? <- That there makes it a direct question.

What privacy laws? If you happen to have a camera on you and you witness a crime you can use it to take evidence.

How would it stop it? Cameras don't lie.

Offline Osama bin Bambi

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Re: Why Aren't There More Prosecutions For Bullying?
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2012, 04:43:09 pm »
Now, in defense of cameras on public school campuses, they were vital in one particular personal instance. I had overheard some girls leaving extremely threatening messages on another girl's phone, as well as talking about their plans to spike someone's drink with a drug. However, I did not catch any of their names and (as some of you already know) I have tremendous difficulty recognizing faces. When I reported the incident, I was taken into a different room with video screens, we went over the footage based on the time I heard the incident and determined which door she must have left through, and I identified her by her backpack and by the mark on her sweatpants. If it had been a day later I would have forgotten everything about her appearance.
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Offline rookie

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Re: Why Aren't There More Prosecutions For Bullying?
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2012, 11:26:56 am »

Lastly, what makes you think this will stop bullying? <- That there makes it a direct question.

What privacy laws? If you happen to have a camera on you and you witness a crime you can use it to take evidence.

How would it stop it? Cameras don't lie.

Nice dodge! Now answer the question about how cameras would stop bullying. I'll answer your privacy laws question when you answer mine.

Edited for format fail.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2012, 05:06:17 pm by rookie »
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Offline TheReasonator

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Re: Why Aren't There More Prosecutions For Bullying?
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2012, 11:43:58 am »
It's really simple.

Camera(perhaps I should say video) evidence if it captures a crime in progress unless the defense is able to mount a successful "c'mon it's clearly photoshop" defense would prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt in most cases.

Offline ironbite

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Re: Why Aren't There More Prosecutions For Bullying?
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2012, 02:02:11 pm »
Yes cameras don't lie.  They also don't speak.  Therefor you can successfully interpret video into being something that it's not.

Ironbite-your idea is cute, but not gonna work.

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Re: Why Aren't There More Prosecutions For Bullying?
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2012, 02:22:24 pm »
Also, here's a question: a lot of bullying happens in bathrooms for precisely this reason (security cameras elsewhere). What then, oh great Reasonator?

Offline ironbite

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Re: Why Aren't There More Prosecutions For Bullying?
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2012, 02:28:34 pm »
Keep in mind he's advocating button cams as well.

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Offline rookie

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Re: Why Aren't There More Prosecutions For Bullying?
« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2012, 05:08:57 pm »
Unless the cameras transform into robotic bodyguards, how is a camera going to stop a bully? Also, how is parents educating children going to stop a bully?

Cameras have not prevented people running red lights or speeding. Education has not stopped the drug program. So my dodged question is how will cameras and education stop bullying?
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Offline TheL

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Re: Why Aren't There More Prosecutions For Bullying?
« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2012, 06:08:48 pm »
Unless the cameras transform into robotic bodyguards, how is a camera going to stop a bully? Also, how is parents educating children going to stop a bully?

Cameras have not prevented people running red lights or speeding. Education has not stopped the drug program. So my dodged question is how will cameras and education stop bullying?

I think he's thinking in terms of "once enough people get caught, the bullies will stop bullying because they know that Authority Figures mean business now."

In other words, the same rationale behind the long-ended practice of public executions.  I do believe that public hangings did not a damned thing to prevent future murders, robberies, or any other capital crime that I know of.  All they did was make people try harder to not get caught.
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Offline Smurfette Principle

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Re: Why Aren't There More Prosecutions For Bullying?
« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2012, 06:23:39 pm »
Unless the cameras transform into robotic bodyguards, how is a camera going to stop a bully? Also, how is parents educating children going to stop a bully?

Cameras have not prevented people running red lights or speeding. Education has not stopped the drug program. So my dodged question is how will cameras and education stop bullying?

I think he's thinking in terms of "once enough people get caught, the bullies will stop bullying because they know that Authority Figures mean business now."

In other words, the same rationale behind the long-ended practice of public executions.  I do believe that public hangings did not a damned thing to prevent future murders, robberies, or any other capital crime that I know of.  All they did was make people try harder to not get caught.

QTF.