City council members in Carson, California could approve one of the toughest laws in the country against bullying Tuesday. The inspiration for the ordinance came from teenagers like Jade Archer.
"When I was 12 years old, I tried taking my life because I felt I didn't belong here anymore," 15-year-old Archer said.
She said bullying at school got so bad she tried to commit suicide.
"It was two girls, and then it was four girls, and then six girls calling me every single day 'ugly' and 'fat' and following me to the bathroom, telling me that, making fun of what I wore, picking at my shirt," she said.
Archer testified in support of a new anti-bullying ordinance in Carson. If passed, the city could become one of the nation's first no-tolerance zones for bullies.
Gipson authored the anti-bullying ordinance based in part on his own experience of being bullied as a kid. If passed, someone who bullies another person between the ages of 5 and 25 would be ticketed if they make the person feel "terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed or molested" with no legitimate purpose. A first offense is $100, a second is $200 and a third could bring a criminal misdemeanor charge.
What is less clear is how the city plans to enforce the law especially if nobody witnesses the bullying. Other cities are considering anti-bullying efforts, including Porterville, California, but at a city council meeting earlier this month the mayor there seemed less than supportive:
"I'm against bullying, but I'm getting damn tired of it being used as a mantra for everything and the ills of the world, when all most people have to do is grow a pair and stick up for them damn selves," said Mayor Cameron Hamilton.
Archer said she felt isolated.
"I can't tell you how many kids are silenced for too long. I was silenced and I did not turn out that happy," Archer said.
If passed, local law enforcement will get training before the ordinance goes into effect June 19.