Plans to Criminalize Bullying Defeated in Carson

A preliminary approval for the ban was given May 6, but it was defeated at a second reading Tuesday night in Carson

A measure that would have made Carson the first city in California to criminalize bullying was defeated Tuesday night during a city council meeting.

Under the proposal, a bully who targeted anyone from kindergarten age to 25 years old would have been penalized with fines and possibly even criminal misdemeanor charges. Carson Mayor Jim Dear, who backed the ban, expressed his concern for victims of bullying before the meeting.

"If this ordinance can stop one suicide, save one life, then it’s worth it," he said.

Councilman Mike Gipson sponsored the would-be ban and expressed similar feelings to those of Dear.

"You hear countless times of individuals who have committed suicide because a bully has taunted them, threatened them, harassed them,"he said.

Several victims of bullying attended the meeting in support of the measure.

Jade Archer, 15, said she once considered suicide as a result of harassment from other children. "They teased me for being fat and ugly, they secluded me from everything."

With the help of her mother, she formed an anti-bullying group and was able to gain the support of Carson city leaders like Gipson and Dear.

A preliminary approval for the ban was given May 6 during a council meeting where a report was given to the mayor that defined the difference between the new proposed ordinance and current laws in place. There are no federal laws that address bullying and cyberbullying, and California state law limits punishment for bullying to school discipline.

It was "intended to fill a gap left in the California criminal justice system," where it looked beyond stalking, threatening harassment and instead criminalized harassment that was "engaged in willfully or intentionally and in a course of conduct that demonstrates an intent or harass or abuse or create an environment of terror to a particular minor," according to the report.

Had the ban passed, misdemeanor charges could have been filed against the parent of a bully if the parent was aware of bully"s behavior. Penalties included $100 and $200 for first and second infractions and a criminal misdemeanor charge with a fine up to $500 for a third infraction.

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