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Anti-bullying bylaw could target adults

Greg Moore, Port Coquitlam mayor, is planning a bylaw that would make bullying illegal in the city. - FILE PHOTO
Greg Moore, Port Coquitlam mayor, is planning a bylaw that would make bullying illegal in the city.
— image credit: FILE PHOTO

Port Coquitlam's planned anti-bullying bylaw, expected to be voted on Dec. 10, will initially be targeted to youth but could make adult bullies pay fines, too.

Mayor Greg Moore confirmed the city will vote on a bylaw modelled after one used to lodge fines against bullies in Regina but there won't be an age cap, in the hopes it could be used to combat bullying in public places, online and possibly even workplaces.

"If they [RCMP] had multiple bylaw offences, that would build into a criminal code offence," Moore said, noting the initial aim of the bylaw would be to discourage face-to-face and online bullying among youth and to get bullies to take an approved anti-bullying course rather than fining them.

Moore said the idea originally came from the RCMP and said he has been in discussions with the police.

But an RCMP spokesman could say little about how the bylaw would work. Cpl. Jamie Chung said the RCMP haven't yet seen the bylaw and no decisions have been made about resources. He said the police support the bylaw because the intent is to prevent bullying.

"We can tell you that we support the community-based personal safety initiative such as the anti-bullying movement," said Chung, adding that the Mounties will continue to work closely with the city on the matter.

Moore said he would like to see RCMP youth liaison officers work with young people to combat bullying because they have the most experience, and would use the bylaw with discretion, encouraging youth to take an anti-bullying course instead of fining them.

Fines would start at $200 and would escalate with each offence, and Moore said he learned in discussions with the cities of Regina and Edmonton that, typically, a handful of fines is given out while the goal is to raise awareness of the issue and promote a "no-tolerance" approach to bullying

The anti-bullying bylaw was announced Tuesday along with a slew of initiatives as part of the Be Someone campaign launched by businessman Gary Mauris and the mayor.

In the Regina bylaw, fines of up to $2,000 can be laid for bullying offences in a public place; written or online and bullying is characterized as objectionable or inappropriate conduct or display by a person directed at an individual, not of the same household, intended to intimidate, humiliate, ridicule or isolate, and which causes or is likely to cause physical or emotional distress.

Moore said the Be Someone team is also working on a texting platform that would enable youth who are bullies or victims to connect with counsellors via texts with the Kid's Help Phone. It will differ from the provincial ERASE anti-bullying tip line in that it would be available to youth outside the public school system and would give kids a chance to connect with people who can chat via text with them and potentially direct them to resources.

• Visit www.iamsomeone.ca and www.snowflakewalk.com for more information about the Dec. 9 Snowflake walk and other anti-bullying initiatives.

dstrandberg@tricitynews.com

 

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