City joins schools in anti-bullying measure

The 14 school districts in Kansas City all have anti-bullying measures in place, but now the city council wants to extend them to areas outside of the schools.

The council public safety committee on Wednesday passed an ordinance that would make bullying or cyber bullying of a minor by a minor punishable by up to a $1,000 fine for the parents of the bully.

But the fine could be avoided if the parents get the child into an anti-bullying program.

The measure now goes to the full city council for final approval.

Councilman Scott Taylor said he expects few fines would be levied if it passes and that many children would go into anti-bullying programs.

“This will help get the parents involved in the situation,” he said. “When we get the parents involved we get results.”

The committee vote came after many spoke in favor of the ordinance.

Dustin Shaw, director of the Kansas City Anti-violence Project, said that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender clients the project advocates for are among the main targets of bullies.

“Bullying is intended to expose, harass and hurt youth who do not fit the norm,” he said.

It can drive youth to desperation, depression and suicide, he said

`LeTiah Fraser, with the Whole Person advocacy group for those with disabilities, said she has encountered many youth who considered suicide after being bullied because “they looked different, talked different or walked different.”

Councilman Jermaine Reed clicked off a number of statistics on bullying:

Victims are much more likely to consider suicide, one-in-four kids have been bullied, girls more than boys, and 68 percent of youth agree cyber bullying is a serious problem.

“People can hide behind a computer screen and really hurt people’s feelings,” Reed said.

A police captain said the ordinance would be a good tool for them because many bullying incidents happen outside schools at the end of the school day.

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