Taipei, Nov. 8 (CNA) The parents of a Taipei high school student who bullied a classmate over a period of several months have been ordered to pay NT$70,000 (US$2,174) in compensation for violating the child’s “right to mental health,” according to a recent verdict by the Shilin District Court.
In its ruling, the court said the high school student, surnamed Wang (王), posted an old family photo of a classmate, surnamed Lee (李), on Instagram, and then made numerous comments mocking his appearance and family background between May and June of last year.
When filing the case, Lee’s parents had sought NT$400,000 compensation for the “severe harm” that the bullying had inflicted on the child’s psychological health, which had resulted in the child seeking medical attention on multiple occasions.
Wang’s parents, however, argued during the trial that their child’s “subjective” comments fell within the realm of free speech and noted that Wang had never mentioned Lee by name in the posts.
They also claimed that Wang could not control whether other classmates targeted Lee, and he should therefore not be held responsible for causing him emotional harm.
In its verdict, the court said that although Wang had apologized, the impact of the bullying on Lee’s mental health, as evidenced by his medical records and the fact he transferred to another school, was severe.
Based on the extent of the violation of the victim’s “right to mental health,” and the financial means of the families involved, the court said it had ordered Wang’s parents to pay NT$70,000 in compensation.
The ruling can be appealed.
(By Hsieh Hsing-en and Matthew Mazzetta)