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City Nixes Move To Outlaw Bullying Up To Age 25

A bill making it a misdemeanor crime to bully anyone from kindergarten age up to 25 years old failed in Carson, Calif., last night, despite receiving unanimous support when the City Council held an initial vote earlier this month. But in its final vote Tuesday, the council axed the measure, which would have been a first for California.

Both the council and the mayor had backed the ordinance, citing a report on the damage that bullying can cause, from mental health issues to a higher likelihood of attempting suicide. Carson Mayor Jim Dear had said he wanted to create "a bully-free city."

The measure spelled out fines for those found to have bullied others.

But the anti-bullying bill was also criticized for being overly vague. A debate was aired onNPR member station KPCC between Dear and Susan Porter, author of Bully Nation: Why America's Approach to Childhood Aggression Is Bad for Everyone.

Carson residents spoke out against the bill; some said that children as young as age 5 don't know the consequences of their actions.

From local TV KTLA 5 News:

" '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, a mother of three.

" 'I don't think you that you can legislate ... how to treat people. That has to start at home,' she added."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: May 21, 2014 at 12:00 AM EDT
A previous version of this post incorrectly referred to the city of Carson as Carson City.
Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.