A bylaw to address bullying in Airdrie could be in place by this fall after it passed first reading at city council Monday evening.
The initiative was inspired by the bullying endured by Airdrie teenager Mackenzie Murphy.
The 13-year-old was nearly driven to suicide after years of harassment and anonymous taunts on social media.
The city’s proposed bylaw includes a fine, counselling for the bully and an awareness campaign.
Mayor Peter Brown said there are still a lot of questions to answer because defining bullying is not cut-and-dried.
"If I said something to you that the five of you might be offended, only one of you might be offended and another one thought it was a joke," he said.
Deputy Mayor Allan Hunter said the bylaw is needed, but he thinks the legislation should also focus on the victims.
"Let’s put some resources into the kids that are feeling the brunt of this," he said.
But Jim Conway, a Calgary lawyer with the Youth Criminal Defence Office, said a bylaw of this sort will be vulnerable to court challenges.
"If you're dealing with conduct or misconduct that's already covered by the Criminal Code, for example, like assault or uttering threats, or criminal harassment, those things are already crimes. So that's covered by the Criminal Code of Canada."
Public input on the bylaw will be collected at an information session on July 2 and again in September.
The bylaw will come up for review and final reading sometime after that.