by Andreas Loukatzis
As a researcher and Ph.D. candidate studying the crime of bullying against minors from a criminal and criminological perspective in Cyprus, I am deeply concerned about the increase in bullying in our country. While many people may think they know what bullying is they may not fully understand what it is. However, it is a serious problem that has devastating effects, especially on its victims.
First of all, bullying is defined as repeated and deliberate aggressive behavior directed at an individual or group of individuals who are unable or unwilling to defend themselves. It is characterized by an imbalance of power where the bully has more power or influence than the victim and can take many different forms including physical, verbal, emotional, and cyberbullying. In recent years, bullying has become more prevalent in Cyprus, with cases of bullying becoming more and more common across the country. The forms of bullying have also evolved, with the development of technology and social media contributing to new forms of cyberbullying. On the other hand, as a society, we are shocked every time a new case of bullying comes to light with serious consequences or even death and suicide.
One of the worrying aspects of bullying in Cyprus is the absence of specific legislation or law to deal with this issue. While there are some criminal and civil laws that can be applied in cases of bullying, there is no specific law that defines and punishes bullying behavior. This makes it difficult for law enforcement to take action against bullies and for victims to seek justice and protection.
The lack of a specific law on bullying is a serious problem that needs to be addressed by those responsible and society at large. It sends the message that bullying is not a serious offense and can be compartmentalized as a minor issue. In fact, bullying can have devastating consequences for its victims and should be treated as a serious issue. We need a strong legal framework that recognizes the seriousness of bullying and provides clear guidance on how to prevent and deal with it. Bullying is a dangerous problem that can have long-term effects on its victims, including depression, anxiety, and even suicide. It can also have a negative impact on the bullies themselves, who may face consequences for their actions and social exclusion. We need to recognize the seriousness of this issue and take steps to prevent and address it.
One way of combating bullying is through education and awareness-raising campaigns. By teaching children and young people about the harmful effects of bullying and how to prevent it, we can create a culture of empathy and respect that makes bullying less likely. Parents, teachers, and community members can also play a key role in preventing bullying by modeling positive attitudes and intervening when they see bullying behavior.
It is important to note that bullying does not only affect minors. Adults can also experience bullying in the workplace or in their personal lives. Workplace bullying, for example, can lead to job dissatisfaction, increased stress, and even physical health problems. It is vital for employers and organizations to take a stand against workplace bullying and create a safe and respectful environment for all employees.
Another aspect of bullying that is often overlooked is the impact it has on bystanders who witness it. Research has shown that bystanders who witness bullying can experience feelings of guilt, shame, and powerlessness. In some cases, they may also see the problem as normal and may be more likely to engage in bullying behavior themselves. It is important to educate bystanders on how to intervene and speak out against bullying in a safe and effective way.
In terms of prevention, it is important to address bullying from another perspective. This includes not only education and awareness campaigns but also the creation of supportive environments for those who have been victims. This can include access to mental health resources, support groups, and legal assistance.
In terms of legislative action, it is important to push for the implementation and creation of specific laws and regulations to tackle bullying. This includes clear definitions of bullying behavior and the consequences for those involved. It is also important to ensure that law enforcement officials are adequately trained to handle cases of bullying and that victims have access to legal support and protection. This will send the message that bullying is not a frivolous issue and that perpetrators will be held accountable for their actions.
It is time to come together as a society and take action to prevent and tackle bullying behavior. By working together, we can create a safer environment for everyone, where bullying is not tolerated and everyone can feel safe and protected by society as a whole. In conclusion, we all need to understand that bullying is not a problem that is foreign or far removed from society and our families. Each of us in our lifetime so far has certainly been subjected to some form of bullying or has been an observer or even been the perpetrator of bullying, possibly without knowing the consequences it may have caused. The phenomenon of bullying will not disappear overnight, nor will it disappear entirely, but our aim should be to deal with it as directly and effectively as possible, and this will be achieved through the triad of Recognition - Prevention - Repression.
*Andreas Loukatzis is a doctoral candidate.
[This Opinion piece was translated from its Greek original]