Originally posted at 6:59 p.m. June, 26, 2014.
The Rancho Santa Margarita City Council's exploration this week of an ordinance that would outlaw bullying is just one part of a movement underway in the Southland to take a stand to protect children, a nonprofit founder said today.
"Rancho Santa Margarita is building awareness for this issue, and it is a huge issue. You see the suicides, you see the depressed, you see the active shooters," Stuart Haskin, founder of Orange County anti-bullying organization Get Safe, told Video News West.
Get Safe -- which has trained and taught an estimated 100,000 people in the 30 years it has been in operation -- works with cities, school districts and individuals as part of its anti-violence programs.
"I think it's good that bullying is being taken more seriously," Haskin said.
The Rancho Santa Margarita City Council agreed Wednesday night to put together a study group composed of parents, law enforcement and school and city officials to come back with a plan to move the ordinance forward.
Mayor Pro Tem Brad McGirr, who during the meeting praised Santa Margarita as being among the safest in California, said he wanted to start a discussion about the epidemic of children bullied at school and online.
"If this were a disease akin to Ebola or AIDS ... it would be all over the news. People would be running around looking for a vaccine like crazy ... but this is something that is insidious, where parents don't necessary know what is going on and it's not their fault," McGirr said during the meeting.
If the ordinance, which could include a fine of up to $500 for the parent or guardian of the bully, is eventually passed, Rancho Santa Margarita would be the first city in California to make bullying illegal.
The Orange County Sheriff's Department has said it will not take a position on the proposed ordinance.
Two cities in the Midwest -- in Wisconsin and Missouri -- have passed ordinances against bullying, while California has no laws.
A similar ordinance in Carson was struck down this year.
--City News Service