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New California Proposal Could Hit Kindergarteners With Misdemeanor Charges

Kindergarten-age children could be charged with misdemeanor for bullying

Source: TheStoneFoundation.com

Kindergarten-age children could be facing misdemeanor charges for bullying if a new proposal in Carson City, Calif., receives enough votes on May 20.

The Southern California city has made the goal clear – to put a stop to bullying of children of all ages.

The repercussions, however, have some parents seriously concerned.

In a preliminary vote last week, the proposal to charge children with a misdemeanor for bullying passed with flying colors, and it is very possible that the results will be similar when the final vote happens in a matter of days.

The ordinance defines any action against a person that causes them to feel harassed, threatened or terrorized with no legitimate purpose, as bullying.

This means the way a young boy could tease a girl he likes could lead to criminal charges before he is old enough to even understand the complexity of the legal system.

Children who are too young to truly grasp the impact that their bullying has on classmates will be hit with legal consequences and their parents will be left with fines to pay.

According to The Daily Breeze, the first-time offense could lead to a $100 fine, while the second offense will cost $200.

A third offense could possibly lead to the student being charged with a criminal misdemeanor.

While the thought of criminal charges for kindergarten-age children is troubling, the proposed ordinance would also cover all forms of cyber-bullying, which has been credited for the recent increases in teen suicide rates, according to the American Life Project.

It would also hold adults accountable for bullying, and slap them with criminal charges that could possibly land them behind bars.

For now it is not very clear how the new ordinance would be enforced as the bullying would more than likely have to be witnessed by a law enforcement officer or authoritative figure at the child’s school.

This means any bullying that goes on outside of the classroom may not be stifled by the proposed legislation.

The city’s mayor, Jim Dear, is in support of the ordinance but made it clear that he doesn’t plan on putting children in jail or just fining parents without trying to get to the root of the problem.

“We’re not talking about putting a 5-year-old in jail, we’re talking about intervening in both the bully’s life, who is a person who is hurting too, and the victim’s life,” Dear told Examiner.com

Another major loophole in the proposal is whether the children will even feel comfortable alerting teachers or authorities that they are being bullied.

A survey conducted by i-SAFE in 2006, found that roughly 60 percent of children admitted to being bullied, but never told an adult.

More than 40 percent of children admitted that they had been bullied online on multiple occasions, with roughly 35 percent saying they perceived the comments to be genuinely threatening.

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