The Sin of Bullying
Is there any avera committed when bullying another child?
The reason why I am asking is because our son has been bullied so much, we are withdrawing him at the end of the school year from the local Jewish day school he attends and homeschooling him next year. Bullying is rampant and the rebbeim and teachers have not done the job of controlling it. I am not sharing the name or location of the school or anyone involved because that would make this Lashon Hara.
We are extremely dismayed. This is not the environment of Torah values we sent him to that school for. We fear physical and emotional injury to our son. And if he spends long enough there, we fear he will learn to behave that way himself.
I am so terribly sorry to read that your son has been the victim of bullying. I am equally upset to read that the faculty in his school were not able to deal with the problem at source and also to help your son through the impossibly difficult time that he had there. I hope and pray that your son not have be left with any long-lasting negative emotional and behavioral problems because of what he went through.
Is bullying an aveira? Yes, absolutely. The most obvious issur is a verse in Vayikra, “V’lo sonu ish es amiso” (25:17), which is the prohibition of Ona’as Devarim.
Our Sages teach that embarrassing someone is akin to spilling their blood.
It is possible that there would be an additional prohibition, if someone were to witness someone else being bullied and they did not react or do anything to try and help. They would presumably be transgressing the prohibition of “do not stand idly by
on your brother’s blood (meaning, when he is in trouble).”
If that is not sufficient, there is the mitzvah to “love your fellow person like yourself.” Nachmanides in Toras HaAdam (Shaar HaSakana) writes that “loving your neighbor like yourself” is a directive to save a person from danger. While it is clear that the Ramban is referring to medical danger, I cannot think of one reason why this mitzvah would not be applicable to emotional danger as well.
Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team