BULLYING : Rights Violation on “Familiarity”

3 March 2020

Amnesty International Thailand

by Arnon Wachirapairot and Phatchanon Ekarattanavet


Many people today face a form of violence which we know as “bullying”.

Some think this problem is not important, but for many people, it must be dealt with because it might lead to problems in adulthood where the victim develops a fear of society. Bullying could also be a violation of human rights.

What is bullying? How is it related to human rights? And how can we deal with this?


What is Bullying?


Whether the violence is by word or gesture, whether intentional or unintentional, if it has a negative physical or mental effect causing the victim to feel inferior, it’s called “bullying”.

In society, we can see that bullying can be based on many characteristics, such as physical appearance, skin colour, preferences, nationality, religion, age, attitude or social status. The Department of Mental Health in Thailand divides bullying into 4 kinds.

  1. Physical: such as punching or beating to the point of causing physical injury or pain.
  2. Social or Emotional: such as compulsion, incitement, or ostracism to the point of causing feelings of hurt and depression.
  3. Verbal: such as insults, humiliation, condemnation, gossiping, or lying to the point of causing feelings of hurt.
  4. Cyberbullying: is bullying in the online world and is widespread today, such as posting attacks on Facebook, cheating, sending messages of sexual harassment or using rude language to the point of causing the victim shame and feelings of pain.


So, bullying can happen everywhere: in the home, at school, in the office, in public or in online media. The more accustomed we become, the effect that follows only increases and is more violent.


Bully and Human Rights? 


Bullying has always existed. We have all done it out of “habit.” In childhood, we tease and play tricks on each other as innocent children. But when we grow to an age where we begin to have more knowledge, this makes bullying progressively more violent until it causes injury. However violent it gets, we still do it because we think it is fun and we are used to it.


From a human rights perspective, if we look at the issue of bullying in terms of the Universal Declaration Human Rights (UDHR), which consists of 30 principles of human rights and basic freedoms intended to promote and protect the human rights of people all over the world, we will see that bullying could be a matter of violating the rights of others.


Let’s see which of the 30 principles of human rights and basic freedoms are violated by bullying.


Article 1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity andrights.


Everybody is born in a different place. Some are born into a good situation, but some may be born into a situation that is bad or lacks important things from birth. But one thing that we all have equally is “humanity”. We all live in the world together, so we all have the right to get what we need. Everyone has the right to a better life; everyone has the right to equal education; everyone has the right to choose to live with dignity; everyone has the right to justice; everyone has the right to express an opinion on what is right; and everyone has the right to choose the way they want to live without causing trouble to others.


Article 2. Everyone has the right to freedom from discrimination for any reason.


People who have different characteristics from each other, such as those with physical disabilities or those with unique personalities or attitudes unlike other anyone else, are denied opportunities by the those around them or forced to live in a society of their own just because they are different from their social context. They should have the rights and freedoms to

live with others in society. So we have open minds to accept their difference because they may be able to change the society in a way we cannot predict.



Article 18. Everyone has the right to freedom of religion.


At school age, we can see clearly that there is quite a lot of teasing on religious issues since because of differences in religious practice. Some people think that is fun and tease each other without thinking of what problems may arise. But some people think teasing about religion is a very serious issue for them because looking at religious practice as a thing of fun makes them feel bad and they may turn on people who do this. So, regardless of anyone’s belief in any religion, we should respect each other because we all have the right to believe in any religion.


Article 19. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression


One thing that people in Thailand still have little of is “expression.” It is not because they do not dare or are afraid to express themselves, but their social surroundings make them unwilling to present or show any difference from what is already known or the existing social context. They have been conceptually blocked just because people around them say that it is wrong, or sometimes they have been ordered to stop thinking and stop talking about what they want to present because society says that it is “not correct” according to the ideas, thoughts and beliefs of the majority. So this is another case where their rights have been violated. However, everyone has the right of expression and opinion as long as this does not cause hate speech or incite social division. We should listen to different opinions because in some ways it can change our future or our daily lives.


Article 29. Everyone must respect the rights of others


When we know that we have rights and freedoms in this world, we must not forget to respect the rights of others too.

Sometimes we use rights and freedoms too much without thinking of what happens until it falls into the scope of bullying which has a negative effect on people around us and violates the rights of others. 



Ways to correct and deal with bullying


Many times, bullying happens just as a moment of fun, momentary anger or just a whim but the consequences may be more than that and may have a long-term negative effect on the victim. Therefore, knowing how to deal with bullying may help avoid or alleviate physical and mental pain.


1.  Don't think that the problems are caused by us.


Having a different identity from others, such as gender identity, race, appearance or skin colour, is not a mistake of the person who is bullied in the slightest but it is because of the attitudes of people who bully those who are different. The important thing is to adjust your attitudes and view of yourself as the first step. If someone you know is the one who has been bullied, tell them that they didn't do anything wrong, but it is a problem caused by the bullies themselves.



2.  Use calm to overcome bullying and respond politely.


Staying calm in the face of bullying helps to end the bullying quickly because the bully wants the victim to respond in order to create violence and provide satisfaction, but when the victim chooses to stay calm, the bully may feel bored and stop doing it in the end. Many times, the problem of bullying occurs with a certain person. In part, this is because the victim does not dare to speak or show dissatisfaction. We must respond politely by saying and showing that we do not feel happy and do not like what they are doing, including their language, and using calm to overcome bullying.



3.  Victims of bullying must hurry to inform teachers and parents or speak with friends suffering the same fate.


The problem of bullying in school often caused by the victims not informing their parents, guardians or teachers. So the bullying problem persists and is not resolved on the spot. However, being alone cannot solve the problem and can make the situation worse. So it is the duty of parents and teachers to monitor children's behaviour and emotions, and not have them remain silent or withdraw into loneliness. They must also have serious consultations with schools about policies to deal with this matter because the problem of bullying at school must receive the cooperation of all parties to find a way to deal with psychological support for children and finding ways to solve the problem together.



4.  Changing the environment


Bullying can inflict psychological scars on victims and can affect their physical condition through, for example, loss of appetite, insomnia, etc. Health is an important thing to which we should pay attention. We must find ways toeliminate stress to help reduce stress or we have to change our former environment in order to manage stress, including choosing to live in a good social environment suitable for us, to stop receiving some social media messages, and importantly, if you can't find a solution, you should immediately see a doctor for appropriate treatment.



5.  Consult a psychologist or psychiatrist.


Many times, bullying overwhelms the victim and eats at their mind, creating long-lasting scars that affect their physical and mental condition so that victims can no longer live in society. Some cases may turn into stress, withdrawal from society, and even depression and suicide. Therefore, to help properly and directly solve the problem involves seeing a specialist, whether a psychologist or a psychiatrist, to provide proper and efficient treatment.



6.  Prosecution


Did you know? In some circumstances, bullying is illegal. Physical or sexual assaulted, even if verbal, based on race or gender, using force or  violence to bully others or even just sharing private information about others  on the internet, such as releasing clips or creating rumours, are all illegal actions. If violent bullying of this kind is discovered, parents, guardians and teachers can report the matter to the police for legal action. Under Article 293 of the Criminal Code, whoever helps or incites a child under the age of 16 who  is unable to understand the nature or significance of their actions to devalue themselves to the point of suicide shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding five years or a fine not exceeding ten thousand baht or both. Under Section 14 (4) of the Computer Crime Act, importing into a computer system any computer data with obscene characteristics and information accessible to the general public, shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding five years or a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand baht or both.


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Even though bullying seems like a minor act in the eyes of some, it may scar the victims. It is also a violation of the basic human rights of fairness, equality, diversity, and expression.

“Bullying may be entertainment for the perpetrator, but it may scar the victim forever”


What about you? If you are bullying someone, will you continue without recognizing the problem, or you will change your behavior? And for those who have been bullied, how are you going to face this?

If you have any dissenting views or opinions, you can comment.