Thursday, April 01, 2010

Althouse - A Contrary View on Criminal Charges Against School Bullies

University of Wisconsin law professor Ann Althouse checks in with a contrarian perspective on criminal charges pending against nine students, after a Massachusetts teenager's suicide was allegedly caused by school bullying:
Of course, it's terrible when a young person commits suicide. And a suicide may have chosen self-murder because of the bad relationships in her environment. But if we don't favor arresting people who are very mean to people who don't commit suicide, why would we favor these arrests when someone does commit suicide?

Assume you are a teenager contemplating suicide. If you knew the 9 kids at school who were meanest to you would get criminally prosecuted if you killed yourself, would you be more likely to kill yourself or less? I don't know enough about the psychology of suicide to answer my own question, but my intuitive sense is that self-murderers — or some self-murderers — intend to deal a severe blow to the people they leave behind. And knowing your enemies will be prosecuted might spur you on.

We now return to our regularly-scheduled reality.

Also see the New York Times coverage: 9 Teenagers Are Charged After Classmate’s Suicide

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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