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Should bullie induced suicide be treated as murder?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/27/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 526 times Debate No: 41338
Debate Rounds (2)
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I believe that if a person is bullied and then commits suicide because of that bullying then the bully should be tried as a murderer in court. Words can be very harmful to a person. They can either raise a persons spirit or crush all their hopes and dreams. I have been reading about quite a few suicides lately that were the result of bullying. In my opinion the bully might as well have been holding the gun. Many kids that are bullied are afraid to reach out because they fear being ridiculed by their peers, This allows the bully to continue bullying and it may cause the bullying to escalate. If the child being bullied commits suicide then the bully should be prosecuted in a court of law as a murderer.


My argument is composed of three main points all of which are problems you have failed to realize and consider:
1) You have failed to understand the definition of murder.
Murder- according to every school child's source of homework help, Wikipedia- is the killing of another human being, with malice after thought. Though bullying is frowned upon and can in some cases result in a criminal charge, it is impossible to accuse someone of murder based on the words they speak. In order for a murder charge to be issued, the person would have had to have been actively involved in the murder, but many times, Bullying occurs over a period of time, and there is to begin with possibly never and intent to do harm. People can not be prosecuted with a murder charge because they called someone "fat lard" and it just so happened that this was the push off the pinnacle; Doing so would be a violation of human rights.
2) Suicide is a complicated issue, for one there are many contributing factors to a person committing suicide and it is impossible and unfair to blame it all on bullying. You must consider how people's emotions can lead them to commit suicide over what may be a non issue.
3)Bullying malicious as it is, is a common occurrence in the lives of every adolescent, though words can be hurtful and have grievous consequences (suicide being one) it is very rare for this to be the case. In any way, though bullying is alluded to in every suicide, there is never any concrete evidence to justify this assumption. Do you not think that having to live with the knowledge and the assumption that your actions drove someone to murder is already punishment enough?

Harsh though it may be, words do not murder people, and if it is only words that have been said, harmful and contributory to the suicide as they may have been, one can not classify it as murder.
Debate Round No. 1


I give you that murder involves a person with malicious intent but does a bully not have malicious intent when bullying a child? A bully will bully a child in order to embarrass that child and make him feel like he is a waste of space. I completely disagree with you that a bully may never have an intent to do harm. A bullies whole goal is to make another person feel lesser than everyone else around them. As a psychology major a know a little about emotions and how they can affect a person and lead to suicide. When a person is constantly told derogative things they begin to believe those things themselves. It's just how our brains work. Bullying has a very large impact on a persons brain. A bully creates a sense of fear for the bullied child. This means that the child will not seek help in ridding himself of the bully for fear of reprisal from the bully. They then start to feel trapped with no other way out other than the taking of their own life. They will become extremely depressed and will isolate themselves from everyone, including their own family. I watched a story over how after about a full year of bullying by another girl, a young lady took her life on her own birthday. The bully had just sent her a message that morning saying that she should die and that no one cared for her. She was constantly called ugly even though she was a quite beautiful young lady. After the young woman committed suicide the bully said that she didn't care and that she was glad the girl had killed herself. I personally believe that this child should be tried with murder. I don't believe that it is enough. Would you consider it enough for a murderer to have to live with the same knowledge and not receive a jail penalty for murder? Bullying is no different from murder. The only difference is that instead of using a gun they use harsh words.


Negative- studies have shown that many bullies are either battling with low self esteem, concerned with their own self image or are jealous of their victim, Bullies can therefore not be said to have malicious intent but are rather disturbed individuals who need as much help as their victims may need. People respond differently to different kinds of situation, one person may be bullied and subsequently feel so unimportant that they decide to take their own life. while another may mistakenly believe that making another feel their pain is the way to go. At the risk of sounding callous, I would suggest that for many who commit suicide, bullying was not the root of the problem. Their decision to commit suicide may have been spurred on by the bullying however, it is often that the initial problem that the bullying built upon was with them and how they viewed themselves.

Though I would rather dwell more on this motion in a generalized manner, I must, in order to conclusively make blatant the flaws in my opponents argument, direct you toward the well know bullying/suicide case of Amanda Todd.

I would like you to consider these points:
Firstly she admits that the decision to go on webcam and then later on flash was hers and hers alone, (though peer pressure may have contributed to the decision, ultimately the decision was hers. She does not mention any of her friends "flashing" therefore we shall for the sake of this debate assume that if they did, she was never privy to this information or perhaps it was irrelevant to the course of following events)

The story then goes on to her being messaged by the man on Facebook, at this point, she was in possession of hard copy evidence of the mans manipulative attempts. It is important to understand that the girl young as she was, had a number of different options. There were any number of different people she could easily have turned to for help, the simple fact that she did not do that shows that to begin with, there was no one close enough for her to confide in. After having gone on webcam with friends sharing what was now happening would not have been too much of a task. Amanda Todd was isolated and that is what made her a prime target for the man to take advantage of her, which is what among other things eventually lead her to commit suicide.

Amanda never says what she decided to do but judging by the outcome I assume that she simply ignored him and the man then sent the picture all around the school, to her family and to friends. At this point in time, her shame and mortification meant meant that the secluded herself from everyone around her and she began to battle depression,, All this was the work of one man and his decision to take advantage of a naive girl who had mistakenly attempted to handle fire and had found out that fire burns.

The problem was never sufficiently dealt with, instead the family moved and Amanda made the decision to turn to drugs and alcohol in order to deal with her problems. She claims that her anxiety escalated but drugs have that effect on people. A year later the guy is said to have come back to target her once more, unless Amanda was further involved with him online or knew him personally, the guy would have after the first attempt simply moved on. When her friends began to once more begun to shun her, she simply retreated into herself as she did not have the confidence in herself to make new friends. As a teenager,people's sexual activity is something that all kids are interested in, because Amanda clearly regretted her decision and had lost respect for herself, her peers responded accordingly. At this point in the story, the bullying starts, she claims that she was called names and "judged". I have to point out that people's judgement will only affect someone if they themselves are embarrassed by it. The name calling was (once the picture was out) bound to happen. Name calling is an almost normalcy in the average high school. "Slut""Slag" are all terms that are loosely thrown around during high school however most people because they themselves still respect themselves are not affected by it. Amanda however was already struggling with her self hared, and she begun cutting.

Once again the young girl moved schools and then she started talking to an "old guy friend" who from the way she mentions going over to his house she likely slept with believing she was in love unfortunately he had a girlfriend she did not know about, because of Amanda's history, this simple everyday misunderstanding escalated.
As expected, when the girlfriend found out what had happened, she was not impressed and the two had a physical confrontation, though nothing is mentioned, Amanda must surely have retaliated in a normal environment the incident would have soon been forgotten or dismissed, however, because of her self hatred and the mistakes from her past, Amanda begun to experience feelings of self doubt and worthlessness. Because of this boys betrayal, and overall her insecurities, she drank bleach and attempted suicide.

Because of the earlier confrontation in which she had painted her self the villain by accepting the blame, there were people who did not feel any sympathy for her because quite unexpectedly, they themselves were still very angry about the situation. Words are exactly that just words, how many times have you made a misguided comment or remark that you have regretted later on? Have you never been so angry and frustrated that you wish someone dead? does telling them that make you a murder? because if it does, then we should all be imprisoned right now.

Amanda moved away and this conveyed a sense of cowardice to her peers who still in anger began a hate campaign, however, because she was not there everyday to confront them with their actions, she just became a joke that people engaged in via the net, the intention was to make her feel terrible about sleeping with someone's boyfriends. Death was not the intended outcome. Her absence from the situation meant that people's emotions went unchecked and she never gave her side of the story. She left as a villain and they remembered her as such. How many times have we heard of something that has happened and without getting the full story we instantly jump to snap decisions? Just look at the case of Bijan Ebrahimi, the man who died because without the full story he appeared to be the villain. As a society when we feel we have been wronged we rarely stop until justice has been served, the people at Amanda's previous school obviously still wanted justice for what they believed Amanda to have done however, because she was not there to defend or tell her side of the story their need for the truth for some kind of justice was never met. As someone in a completely new city Amanda had the opportunity to set aside her past, block and close all her online accounts and just try to build a new life. She was in a completely new city how likely was it that the people from her past would happen upon her? Because of her insecurities and past history, Amanda simply hid away from the problem and eventually it got too much for her and she gave up on her life.

Now I am not in any way attempting to trivialize suicide, however as is clearly seen in the case of Amanda Todd, there are a lot of things that contribute to someone choosing to take their own life. If one considers the whole story, setting all prior convictions aside, you will realize that in most suicide cases, bullying is simply the "the straw that broke the camel back" and therefore, it can not be tried as murder.
Debate Round No. 2
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