Bullies are responsible


Bullying needs to be stopped.

Danny Naddeo, Eastside Staff

According to the research done by Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, nearly 200,000 students that are victims of bullying are estimated to bring weapons to school. Additionally, victims of bullying are 31 times more likely to bring a weapon to school than students who have never been bullied. It makes sense that with the number of victims bringing a weapon to school, bullying is one of the main reasons that many school shootings occur.

However, not every bullying victim inflicts violence upon others, many inflict it upon themselves. A Yale University study shows that bullying victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than those who have not been bullied.  There is no question that the shooter should be held responsible for their actions, as the taking of lives is unforgivable. But, is the shooter entirely responsible? And what about the victims that took their own lives? While they may not have pulled the trigger, the bully is still the force behind many horrible events that could push someone to perform such horrifying actions, and they should be held accountable for them.

In the US, constructive manslaughter is a sentence given to a person who causes the death of another while committing a violation of the law that is not a felony. In many US states, bullying is now considered, while not a felony, illegal. As such, aren’t the deaths of those caused by the actions of bullying victims deaths caused by an action that violates the law?

In New Jersey, there is a Social Host Liability law, which states that if someone serves alcohol to a guest, and allows that guest to leave drunk, the host is just as guilty as the guest if the guest ends up injuring someone in a car crash or any activity that causes death or injury to a third party. That’s extremely similar to what’s happening in school shootings caused by bullying. The bully causes pain and anger in this or her victim, then that victim causes death or injury to a third party. If a law gives liability to a host at a party for getting his or her guest drunk, then there should be a law that gives liability to a bully for causing their victim suffering to the point of violent retaliation.

Additionally, researchers have found that there is a strong link between bullying and depression. People afflicted with clinical depression often have low self-esteem, suffer from chronic anxiety, and often have thoughts of suicide. Unable to cope with the pain they feel, suicide may seem like the only option to some bullying victims, especially since many bullying victims do not tell anyone about what is happening to them, for fear of what their bully would do if told on. As such, the bully is somewhat responsible for the suicide, as they are partly the reason why the victim did not receive the help or treatment that was needed.

Unfortunately, the likelihood of a law like this being effective is slim. Most school shooters don’t give an explanation for their actions, and no one would willingly say that they were responsible for someone taking their life or the lives of others. Unless the victims calls out their bullies themselves, any conviction would be impossible. Most of the evidence that would be brought to a trial would be witness testimony, most convictions needing physical evidence. Otherwise, the trial would just become a case of “he said/she said,” which most often results in a hung jury or the defendant being found not guilty of the crime.

Bullies should be held accountable for the violence actions of their victims, as they are partially responsible for their victims performing the heinous acts that they do. However, due to the circumstances that surround the crimes that are committed coupled with the overall lack of physical evidence, the chances of bullies being held responsible for the devastation created by their torment is slim to none.