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Tuesday 26 March 2002

B.C. Schoolgirl Bully Convicted

A teen bully whose victim committed suicide has been convicted of “uttering threats” and “criminal harassment”.

During the trial, one of the accused testified that she had beaten up Dawn-Marie Wesley. The other accused teen admitted calling the victim and saying, “You’re dead.”

That undoubtedly constitutes a threat, and criminal harassment, and kids certainly deserve the same protection of the law that adults do. This case probably belonged in the criminal-justice system. Probably belonged there while the victim was still alive, but here we are.

My concern, though, is that the trend of dealing with bullying in court will grow and grow until there’s a belief that any social friction between children is a criminal matter. That won’t help anyone, because schoolyard harassment is an important part of the process of socialization.

Jockeying for dominance — we call this “bullying” when it’s done in certain ways — is part of human nature. It’s not going to go away, ever. Schoolyard bullying is beneficial in that bullies can learn (hopefully) that bullying doesn’t lead to success, and that bully-ees can learn that there are people in the world who will give you a hard time for, say, wearing the wrong clothes.

Hopefully this doesn’t lead to suicide on the part of the bully-ee. The old belief that nobody likes a tattle-tale is insane; children need to deal with their own conflicts while having some protection from one another. But I’d be willing to suggest that the consequences of eliminating schoolyard bullying entirely would in fact be far worse in the long run than the occasional suicide.

Posted by tino at 10:34 26.03.02
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