A city in Southern California is moving to criminalize bullying.
In the first round of voting on Tuesday, the Carson city council voted 5-0 in favor of the measure, which would make it a misdemeanor to pick on anyone from kindergarten up to 25 years of age. The council will vote for the second time on May 20.
The ordinance would cover physical, verbal and online bullying, and offenders charged with bullying could be required to seek therapy and counseling and pay a fine. Parents of suspected bullies could also be held responsible.
“We’re not talking about putting a 5-year-old in jail, we’re talking about intervening in both the bully’s life, who is a person who is hurting too, and the victim’s life,” Jim Dear, mayor of the Los Angeles suburb, told Reuters.
If the ordinance passes the second round of voting, it will take effect after 30 calendar days and make Carson one of the first jurisdictions in the U.S. to make bullying a crime. In Florida, there is a campaign to adopt the so-called Rebecca’s Law, which would make bullying punishable with up to a year in jail. The state of Maryland outlawed cyberbullying on May 2.