Edmonton police can ticket bullies under new bylaw

Edmonton city council has passed a bylaw prohibiting bullying, making it the first city to make bullying teenagers an offence.

Edmonton city council passed a bylaw Tuesday prohibiting people from bullying anyone under the age of 18 in a public place.

That makes it the the first city to outlaw schoolyard bullying.

Other cites are already interested in Edmonton's initiative, said Coun. Jane Batty.

The city's had queries from Calgary and several Ontario communities, she said.

Under Edmonton's bylaw, anyone caught bullying could be fined as much as $250.

Police who work in the city's schools pushed for the bylaw, saying they're concerned about bullying becoming a major issue.

Edmonton Mayor Bill Smith supported the bylaw, saying it will send a message that bullying won't be tolerated.

"I know the school boards and the police service support it. It's just allowing them a tool to take care of people who do bad things," said Smith.

The bylaw says bullying occurs when a minor feels tormented, troubled, worried, plagued or badgered.

Only police officers could ticket offenders and the $250 fine is intended as a last resort.

The bylaw gives police another tool to deal with teen violence. Up to 70 per cent of the complaints in schools are related to bullying, said Const. Dan Williams, the school resource officer who proposed the idea.

School bullying is a nationwide problem.

But Edmonton Councillor Ed Gibbons questioned how the bylaw will be enforced.

"I've talked to judges and I've talked to lawyers and they do not know how this can be enacted. Just to be the first city to have this doesn't wash with me," said Gibbons.

Other opponents said police are already too busy to worry about fining bullies.