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Hanna taking a bite out of bullying
Published Thursday, December 20, 2012 12:13PM MST
Last Updated Thursday, December 20, 2012 4:51PM MST
Sticks and stones can break your bones but names could land you in real trouble in the community of Hanna.
The law was passed in November, a month after the death of Amanda Todd, the B.C. teenager who killed herself because of persistent bullying, but Hanna mayor Mark Nikota says the law isn’t a kneejerk reaction to her death.
Included in the law is a prohibition on taunting, name calling, and put downs, but Nikota says that that is just one part of the new restriction.
“It’s not meant for the police to walk down the street and if they hear someone say ‘hey, you’re an idiot’, they aren’t going to whip out their ticket book.”
He claims that bullying in the community is an ongoing problem.
RCMP in Hanna say the new law provides them with an option in dealing with bullying complaints.
“This gives us something so we don’t have to go by means of the Criminal Code and we don’t have to give people who otherwise don’t have a criminal record a criminal record,” said Cst. Jennifer Brewer.
Residents in the community say that while the bylaw seems like a good idea, it likely won’t have much impact on the issue.
The anti-bullying law in Hanna isn’t the first such legislation in country or even the province.
Regina passed a similar law in 2006 and Blackfalds passed something like it in 2008.
Legislation aimed at cyberbullying was tabled in Nova Scotia’s legislature in May, with officials there calling it the first step to addressing bullying in schools.
The family of 17-year-old Courtney Brown of Parrsboro, N.S., supported the move and said they want the government to act quickly.
Brown took her own life in March 2011 after she had been bullied online.
The Alberta Education Act, passed in the fall sitting of legislature, will also deal with bullying both on and off school property.
It won’t take effect until 2015.
Hanna’s bylaw, which also makes it illegal to physically or verbally threaten someone, attack, extort, or steal from them online or in person, is one of the toughest in the country.
Repeat offenders could find themselves sentenced to jail for up to six months.
However, the amount of bylaws popping up across the country have law experts are concerned.
“The message gets convoluted or at least less effective if there are different approaches in different jurisdictions. So I think there is something to be said for a holistic approach for some sort of national standards,” says U of C law professor Kathleen Mahoney.
No one has been charged under Hanna’s bylaw so far.
With files from CTVNews.ca