Not all jokes are done in good taste. As April 1st approaches, many will start cutting out paper fish to stick on the backs of their loved ones. Others may try more daring pranks that risk going too far. But beware of the consequences of poorly thought-out pranks!
Pushing a joke too far
Attempting to play a prank on his teacher, a young man made and wore a shirt with a picture of the teacher along with a false and less-than-flattering message. The young man was ordered to pay his victim a sum of money for defamation. What led the court to take such a decision?
April Fools’ Day or not, everyone must behave in a way that avoids causing harm to others. This obligation allows us to live better together in a society. It’s called civil responsibility. In other words, even if you didn’t mean to hurt someone, you may be held responsible for the consequences of a joke that went too far.
Children’s fault: parents’ responsibility?
In law as in everyday life, everyone is generally responsible for their own actions. But when minor children pull pranks that cause harm, their parents may also be required to compensate the victim or victims.
In the eyes of the law, parents have a duty to educate and supervise their minor children. So, they’re considered to be at fault if the child is responsible for damage. The courts assume that the harm occurred because the child was not properly educated and supervised.
However, in the case of the young man who wore a shirt with a defamatory message, the parents were not held responsible. They managed to prove to the court that they carried out their duty to educate and supervise their child properly.
April Fools’ joke or bullying?
As long as there are words, actions, images or actions that hurt or socially exclude someone, bullying can occur even if the perpetrator does not mean to hurt anyone. If your April Fools’ joke at school, at work, on the web or elsewhere is part of a series of similar actions that have a negative effect on the victim, be careful.
Bullying can be reported, and in certain cases, it can be considered a crime.