Bullying: Should it be a Crime? - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Bullying: Should it be a Crime?

The city council of Carson, CA has voted to make bullying a crime; a misdemeanor, technically punishable by jail time! It was the first of two votes, As of the writing of this blog, the final vote is scheduled for Tuesday night, May 20th.

Certainly, if the ordinance passes, this becomes an even bigger story—a locally enacted law that will, I suspect, be challenged in court. But the greater question is, do we want to use government to battle every human evil, sin or character flaw? Many bullies come from inattentive homes. They act out from their own hidden scars. Will we next make bad parenting a crime? It’s been argued that bullies are also victims. How far back do we prosecute?

No one likes bullying and, yes, it can be a harbinger of more serious behavior. But this proposed ordinance, which covers offenders and victims from age 5 through 25, will create more confusion than clarity. It is, as one attorney I respect said, only making it socially acceptable to prosecute children for crimes that already exist. If we’re going to spend tax dollars on bullying, should we consider intervening counseling services? More subsidized parenting classes?

The co-author of the measure said the goal is to make Carson a “bully-free city.” Sounds admirable but you might as well say “sin-free” or “vice-free”. Behavior is the sum of nurture and nature. Good luck with the latter. How about focusing on the former?

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