Forcibly tattooing a boy isn't bullying. It's assault
Tattooing someone against their will is not bullying. It is assault. The difference matters.
This is relevant in the case of a 14-year-old boy who was allegedly tattooed against his will by four or five young men who have been charged with assault, endangering the welfare of a minor, tattooing without a license and other offenses, according to the Smoking Gun.
An arrest warrant affidavit issued by the Concord Police Department in New Hampshire says that assailants told the ninth grade victim, who has learning disabilities and attends Concord High School, that “he was going to get the tattoo whether he liked it or not.” If he tried to run away, they told him, he would be caught and beaten up.
The warrant also said the victim was told he would no longer be bullied if he allowed himself to be tattooed and then agreed.
The victim had an obscenity and a drawing of a penis tattooed on his backside on May 10 after being enticed to a Concord home, the warrant said. Some of the boys attend the same school but are legal adults.
Some of the media accounts of the incident are calling the young men who were arrested “bullies.” If they are found guilty, they certainly will be shown to be bullies, but also criminals who assaulted a student.
Bullying is pernicious and dangerous behavior with these three components, as defined by Dan Olweus, creator of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program:
1. Aggressive behavior that involves unwanted, negative actions.
2. A pattern of behavior repeated over time.
3. An imbalance of power or strength.
But schoolkids who are bullies are not considered criminals in part because of their age and in part because of the nature of the behavior. Police are not normally called to deal with schoolyard bullies. In this case, however, they were, and rightly so.
Calling someone a bully who forcibly tattoos a minor misses the criminal nature of such an assault and blurs the definition of bullying. At a time when schools should be looking at systemic approaches to handling bullying, we want everybody to understand what bullying is, and what it isn’t, and how to effectively deal with it.
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| May 21, 2010; 3:30 PM ET
Categories: Bullying | Tags: boy forced to get tattoo, boy tattooed unwillingly, bullying, tattoo and bullies, tattoo and bullying
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