NL: Children's Ombudswoman wants to make bullying a crime

THE HAGUE - Children's Ombudswoman Margrite Kalverboer wants to fight bullying by criminalizing it, she said in an interview with AD. She will also start a major investigation on Friday into the causes, impact and approach of bullying.

Bullying is currently not a punishable offense, but bullies can be prosecuted if they commit criminal offenses. "Maybe bullying protocols are not enough and you should move towards the criminalization of bullying," said Kalverboer. "That in itself is still not an approach to the phenomenon, but then you show how serious this misconduct is. Because the consequences of bullying are life-size."

She noted that bullying is often downplayed and the phenomenon is underestimated. "'It toughens you up', a victim is then told. But if you talk to adults who had to endure something terrible in their youth, they carry the traces of it with them for the rest of their lives."

Kalverboer called on children who are being bullied to complete an online questionnaire on the Children's Ombudsman's website. In this way she wants to gain more insight into the causes, impact and approach of bullying. "Unfortunately, children are the experts when it comes to bullying," said Kalverboer. "We need to hear their opinion and view. Because when I talk to adults, they tend to underestimate the problem. Children can mercilessly expose how they are victims, despite rules and protocols."

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