California city ordinance would make bullies pay up
LOS ANGELES (Ben Tracy/CBS News) -- The city council in Carson, California, will vote Tuesday on a tough new plan to outlaw bullying.
"Since I was seven, I was known as the fat, ugly kid in the corner that nobody liked," says 15-year-old Jade Archer, who says she was bullied so badly by girls at school that she tried to kill herself when she was 12.
"A girl came up to me and said, 'Nobody likes you, go kill yourself,'" Jade says. "And I felt at that moment worthless, stupid. I felt every negative thing."
Archer has been watching what's going on in nearby Carson, the city of 93,000 that wants to be one of the nation's first bully-free zones.
"We have to draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough and bullying is no longer accepted in this city," says city council member Mike Gipson, the author of a proposed anti-bullying ordinance.
It would fine someone who bullies another person between the ages of 5 and 25, making them feel "terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed or molested" with no legitimate purpose.
Gipson says he was bullied as a kid because he stuttered.
"Small bullies grow up to be big bullies, and big bullies sometimes grow up to be husbands and wives and are abusive to the person they said 'I do' to," he says.
A first-time bullying offense is a $100 fine, a second is $200, and a third could bring a criminal misdemeanor charge. What is less clear is how the city plans to enforce the law, especially if there is no witness to the bullying.
High school junior Evan Locke worries many young people won't report it.
"Because then you are a snitch," he says. "They'll look at you like that, and that's an even bigger problem."
But Jade says the law could keep kids from feeling isolated.
"If someone didn't stand up for me and someone didn't take the time to listen to me, I wouldn't be sitting in front of you right now," she says. "My mom would be telling you what happened to me."
If the city council passes the ordinance, local law enforcement would then get training on how to enforce it. It would go into effect on June 19.
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