Should bullying be a criminal offense?

Should bullying be a criminal offense?

I want you to have a listen to this email we received.

Hi Niall,

Can you discuss something serious for me please? A friend of mine is being really badly bullied in work by a colleague. He hates going into work and is really stressed about the entire thing. He has approached HR about the issue and they said they would investigate it and have a word but nothing is really being done. He has a good job and salary and can’t financially leave but has been taken days off sick because he just can’t face going in.

The particular colleague calls him names if he gets something wrong and makes his life hell in work. We were talking about it last night and I really think we need to do something serious in this country to tackle bullying. It should be a criminal offence and people should be held accountable for their actions.

It is a huge problem in this country. Children and adults have taken their own lives because of bullying and yet we are not seeing any real change.

I know it would be a drastic measure but maybe criminalising bullying is something that should be done.

Please talk about this because I don’t believe my friend is the only person dealing with this. I think there are many people in this country struggling because of a bully.


What do you think of Anita’s email?

You all know my story of how I was bullied growing up and it is truly something that I detest.

The government has made some steps in tackling bullying with some legislation around cyber bullying and revenge porn but bullying itself is still prevalent with no understanding as to how to properly deal with it.

Bullying takes place everywhere, in school, at work, at home and in social situations. Society at large feels the effect of it, from absenteeism at school or work to all manner of stress related illnesses. The stresses on a victim sometimes lead to suicide.

As part of its response, most societies have reacted by legislating against bullying and introducing anti-bullying practices into schools and workplaces. Some legislatures, particularly in the United States, have designated some forms of bullying as a criminal offence. In Ireland we do not have a specific crime of bullying, and neither do we have any employment laws which expressly forbid bullying.

However that does not mean that the victim has no rights. Under various employment laws the victim may have rights of redress, for instance under anti-discrimination rules, employment equality laws, health and safety laws and unfair dismissal legislation. One of the difficulties of specifically legislating against such behaviour is the problem of defining what exactly is meant by “bullying”.

But is it time we made the actual bully responsible for their actions? – – Fine them, prosecute them?

Or would that be a step too far?

Maybe you have been bullied in school or a workplace – I want to hear from you today – how did you deal with it?

Would you like to see it criminalised?

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