Carson fails to outlaw bullying, seeks anti-bully alternatives instead

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

May 21, 2014

CARSON, Calif. – Despite emotional pleas from victims of bullying who called on the city of Carson to pass an ordinance that would outlaw bullying, the city council voted 3-2 to scrap a proposed ordinance that would make bullying a misdemeanor.

The proposed ordinance in one of the most dense Filipino concentrations in the country was believed to be one of the toughest anti-bullying laws considered in the US.

Among those speaking in support of the ordinance was Jade Archer, the 15-year-old Filipina-American who survived an attempted suicide caused by bullying. Archer has since started a support group and has been active in getting the ordinance passed.

“You’ve got to start somewhere. I’m not going to let this stop from doing what I’m doing. It’s not a defeat they obviously care about it,” Archer said after the vote.

The proposed ordinance defined bullying as a “willful course of conduct which involves harassment that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed or molested.”

Violators would have been punished by fines on the first two offenses, but on a third strike it would have been charged as a misdemeanor. Parents of alleged bullies would have also been punished.

While most people are against bullying, a few residents and experts believed that criminalizing the act of bullying through the ordinance was not the right solution.

“I think it’s really ridiculous you will try to legislate something from ages 5 thru 25,” one resident commented during the meeting.

“The proposed ordinance is both vague and overbroad and could have unattended collateral consequences,” a representative from the Lambda Legal Center and ACLU said during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Three council members voted against the ordinance including Filipino-American Mayor Pro Tem Lito Santarina who raised concerns with the enforcement of the ordinance.

Other descending members raised issues on the possible criminalizing of children.

“I am definitely going to vote yes on this if there is going to be provisions saying but the following must be done…” Santarina explained.

While the ordinance did not pass, the council did agree to find alternatives in combatting bullies, including prevention programs.

You can contact Steve Angeles at steve_angeles@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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