You may remember either being bullied in school or feeling pressured to participate in teasing or bullying to fit in with your peers. The term “kids will be kids” rarely applies these days. Many schools in New York and across the country are involved in anti-bullying education, but it is still a pervasive issue for many children. If your child is accused of bullying, whether it was intentional or he or she felt pressured to go along with it, the consequences can be serious.
Can bullying be a criminal act? This could be the case if another child suffered harm and the parents decided to press charges against your child, or if the behavior was severe enough that authorities deemed it criminal in nature. Some of the most common bullying techniques, which your child might not realize could result in charges, may include the following:
- Constant teasing, harassment or stalking, including sexual harassment
- Physically threatening or harming another child
- Sharing or storing sexually explicit photos of an underage classmate on social media or on a cellphone
You may have heard about a recent incident involving food bullying, which illustrated how serious it can get when children think they are playing a harmless prank. Reportedly, three girls knew that a classmate had a severe pineapple allergy, and together decided to play a practical joke by high-fiving her with a hand smeared with pineapple juice. The girl with the food allergy required treatment at the hospital. The girls are facing criminal charges, including harassment, assault and criminal conspiracy. It is likely that when the girls were planning the prank, they did not realize their actions could seriously harm the other girl or that authorities would charge them with a crime.
Children are often known for not considering the consequences of their actions. Your child may not understand that teasing or bullying can escalate to criminal charges. It may be necessary to consult a defense attorney if this happens.