Should bullying be a criminal offense? Lawmakers in a California city decided it isn’t, defeating a proposed anti-bullying law on Tuesday, KTLA 5 reports.
The ordinance, if passed, would have made the city of Carson the first in the state to outlaw bullying.
It would have criminalized bullying anyone between kindergarten-age and 25 years old. It defined bullying as a “willful course of conduct which involves harassment,” behavior that would, “cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed or molested.”
Councilman Mike Gipson sponsored the bill in response to nationwide headlines about bullying and cyber-bullying. “We have young people that are committing suicide because they’ve been bullied in school,” Gipson said. “We’re saying enough is enough and we’re drawing the line in the sand in the city of Carson.”
If passed, the law would have issued $100 and $200 fines for first and second infractions. A third offense would have garnered a misdemeanor charge, with a possible $500 fine. Officers would have determined if the violator received an infraction or misdemeanor.
Parents of minors would have been held liable and faced charges if their kids violated the ordinance. Gipson added that under the law, bullying wouldn’t simply be calling someone a name.
“It is someone who intimidates, harasses, and terrorizes, physically and emotionally, another person. And when you meet that definition, you are a bully,” he said.
Some parents were against the legislation because they found it to be unrealistic. “You can’t hold a 5-year-old child, or for that matter even a 10- or 11-year-old child, accountable for their actions. That’s what their parents are for,” resident Bryan Brown said, according to KTLA.
“I think it’s absolutely ridiculous. I think that it’s way too vague. I think that bullying in and of itself is way too vague,” said Miesha Warren, who has three kids.