What Happens If I’m Accused of Being a Bully?
Accusations of bullying don’t necessarily have to come from the authorities to be taken seriously. Whether you are warned by a simple e-mail from a friend or a concern raised by a teacher, you should be taking these warnings seriously. If you are not sure why you have been accused, it may be a good time to find out why in order to try and avoid the problem in the future. However, if you have indeed been bullying someone, it needs to stop immediately. If these warnings are not taken seriously or if the situation grows larger, formal accusations may follow. This can include criminal charges and discipline from your school. At this point, the good news may be that there is still an opportunity to resolve the problem before serious actions are taken. Bullying can happen even if you didn’t mean to be a bully or if people were treating you unfairly, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t have consequences. This is a good time to talk to a parent, friend, teacher or any others that you trust in order to try and figure out why you are bullying and how you can stop. If accusations of bullying are true, learning to act in ways that don’t involve bullying can be important in preventing bullying from having consequences on your life.
In many cases of bullying, especially if the victim feels mentally, physically or emotionally harassed, he/she or their guardians may choose to go to school authorities or the police. In any case, the bullying is documented. The physical condition of the victim (if physically bullied), threatening exchanges through mediums such as texts and e-mails as well as detailed reports of the bullying incidents can be used as evidence. Depending on the severity of the bullying, the consequences vary (e.g. a school can suspend or expel you, while if the bullying is serious enough to be a crime, you could be charged and made to attend court). Not all victims choose to pursue legal action. However, it is the police’s decision whether or to charge someone. Some people may choose mediation or restorative circle, meaning that you attend a meeting with the victim and a third party member in order to come to an agreement. Depending on the goals of the people involved, the results of mediations vary. For example, in some cases, it may be suggested that the bully see a therapist or counsellor. The consequences of being formally accused as a bully vary greatly because of many different factors such as the severity of the bullying, as well as the goals of the parties involved. For example, one factor for bullying cases at schools is the school policies themselves. Because some schools may have stricter anti-bullying policies and measures than others, if you are accused of bullying, you should investigate your school or institution’s policies against bullying in order to learn more about the consequences that will be taken.
This is an excerpt from our PLE Team’s Bullying Zine (2012), the full Zine can be downloaded from our Publications page. Written by: Cydney Kim, member of JFCY’s PLE Team.