Why criminalizing bullying is the wrong approach

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The concept of an "eye for an eye," as a form of justice, suggests that an aggressor deserves to be hurt just as much as the injured. This is why the calls for criminalizing bullying have only grown stronger in recent years. With the continued sensationalization of bullying-related suicides and homicides in the media, of course we want to blame and punish someone. But consider what Mahatma Gandhi once said -- "an eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind." We cannot solve bullying by punishing it away; we must work instead to restore relationships and environments, change attitudes and behaviors, and heal those harmed.

That is why I had to shake my head when I read this editorial by CNN legal analyst Mark O'Mara in which he accuses anyone against bullying criminalization laws as subscribing to the "sticks and stones" mentality and not truly understanding the hurt of bullying. Sorry, Mr. O'Mara, I definitely understand the hurt of bullying -- I was bullied severely during middle school to great detriment. Not only that, I have spent the last 10 years researching and advocating for better bullying prevention and intervention. I know that criminalizing bullying will only make things worse.

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