Gossiping, hair pulling, pinching or spreading rumours about another person could soon fall under a new anti-bullying bylaw in Saskatoon.
The proposed bylaw heading to City Council on Monday would make bullying illegal in public places like parks and restaurants. However, council can also choose to add schools and school sites as well.
“The intent of the bylaw is to recognize the role of all levels of government and community agencies in combatting bullying and in creating a positive environment,” City Solicitor Patricia Warwick said in a release.
“One of the Bylaw’s purposes is to compliment the education, prevention and awareness initiatives administered through the school system.”
The draft bylaw defines bullying as a comment or action intended to cause harm, fear or physical or psychological distress to another person.
It would apply to any person 12 years of age and older. The fine for a first offense would be capped at $300 with fines escalating for repeat offenders.
One of the driving voices behind the bylaw, Bridgette Krieg, said time has not made the issue any less relevant. Her daughter Ally was bullied relentlessly online, and Krieg said it reached a point where the only way to escape it was to move away.
“There are kids coming up through the school system now who share by daughter’s experience almost to … you could put their stories side by side and wouldn’t be able to distinguish between my daughter’s story and another child’s story,” Krieg said.
She said a bylaw will give educators, parents and law enforcement a tool to deal with the issue.
“I think one of the important pieces is that it kind of will maybe offer opportunity for kids to sort of reflect on their behaviour and how it might impact other people. And that can be done by just having some sort of a consequence .”
Krieg is also pleased that it deals with both the physical and mental aspects of bullying.
If approved, the earliest the bylaw could be implemented is September 1.