Carson City Anti-Bullying Ordinance Would Allow Charges for Harassment

Friday, 09 May 2014 01:32 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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The city council in Carson, California, is moving ahead with an anti-bullying ordinance, agreeing Tuesday to a measure that would charge bullies with infractions and misdemeanors for taunts and physical harm.

The ordinance is serious business, targeting the harassment of anyone from kindergarten to age 25, KNBC-TV reported.

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Citing statistics about the negative impact bullying has on children, the proposed rule would allow misdemeanor charges to be filed if the bullying leads to physical and mental harm to the subject being bullied.

The ordinance, which had its first reading in front of the Carson City Council, would make the parent or guardian "responsible for the bullying acts of the child" if the adult knew about the act.

"Bullying is such a hard topic because most people think it's just something you grow up with, but that's not a part of growing up," anti-bullying advocate Jade Archer told KNBC-TV. "When you're feeling worthless and not having somebody with you, that's not a part of growing up, it shouldn’t ever be either."

A Los Angeles Times editorial pointed out that the law could flood the prosecutor's office with what could have been playful banter between children and turn hurt feelings into a crime.

"If it passes, the proposed ordinance could result in the arrest of any bully whose victim is kindergarten age up to 25 years old; the perp could be a kindergartner as well," stated the Times editorial. "The first two violations would be considered infractions and the third a misdemeanor. Parents of minors could also face arrest or fines.

"But even though the ordinance is intended to address bullying that truly intimidates, there's too much leeway for turning everyday childhood taunting into a case for the prosecutor's office," the editorial continued.

Jim Dear, Carson's mayor, told Reuters that he supported the anti-bullying ordinance and believes the measure will give pause to bullies and provide some remedies for children who face persistent bullying.

"We're not talking about putting a 5-year-old in jail," Dear told Reuters. "We're talking about intervening in both the bully's life, who is a person who is hurting too, and the victim's life."

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