RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA (CBSLA.com) — Rancho Santa Margarita could become the first city in California to outlaw bullying.
Orange County attorney and Rancho Santa Margarita Mayor Pro-Tem Brad McGirr spoke to a crowd of schoolchildren about being bullied after a suicide resulted from a case of online bullying in part motivated him to write an anti-bullying ordinance.
"When I was your age, real briefly, I was bullied," McGirr told the students. "I was bullied a lot."
The ordinance is set to go before the City Council on Wednesday.
"My goal is to create a conceptual ordinance that the City Council can discuss, that we can leap from, and say 'Look, how can we help children,' " McGirr said. "It's not about me. It's not about my city. It's about my community."
Teenager Daniel Mendez, who was bullied by a group of boys in both middle school and high school, shot and killed himself in 2009. His mother, Anna Mendez, started the National Association of People Against Bullying and says she wishes there had been such an ordinance at the time of her son's suicide.
"I think the focus in the past has been on schools, and what are school administrators doing to protect the kids against bullying," Mendez said. "And mind you, yes, a lot of the bullying does occur at school. But, it also appears after they go home."
The ordinance includes imposing fines on parents or guardians who allow a child to bully another child.
Specifically, McGirr says he wants to prevent cyber-bullying.
"If I could avoid a city ordinance, I would like to," McGirr said. "If we need a city ordinance to allow the code enforcement, or law enforcement, to intervene, to help a child, then we can address that through what I'm proposing — this dialogue amongst educators, law enforcement and parents."
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