© Mike Carson/Journal Pioneer
Councillor Tina Mundy
SUMMERSIDE – City officials are taking the problem of bullying head on and will be entering into discussions about drafting an anti-bullying bylaw for Summerside.
Councillor Tina Mundy, chairwoman of the city’s police services committee, said she will be bringing up the matter at the next committee meeting later this month.
“I have been giving a great deal of thought and performing some research about the city implementing an anti-bullying bylaw,” Mundy said. “I receive numerous calls and hear horrible stories of people being bullied. I’m hearing from teachers in the schools and I’m hearing from residents at large and there’s concern. It’s in the press every single day – these poor tortured souls that feel the only way to end the suffering is to kill themselves. But until it becomes a criminal matter there is nothing the police can do.”
Feb. 27 was declared as “Pink Shirt Day” in the City of Summerside and Mayor Basil Stewart said, “Bullying is a problem in our schools, workplaces, homes, and online. We are trying to help raise awareness on this issue and encourage others to stand up against bullies.”
Mundy said this was a great first step but she wants to take it a step further.
“Many municipalities across Canada have already implemented anti bullying bylaws,” she said. “Alberta and Saskatchewan and B.C. currently have anti-bullying bylaws which can actually levy a fine of anywhere from $100 - $2,000 to the bully or anyone who may witness the bullying. Halifax is currently investigating a similar bylaw.”
Mundy said an anti-bullying bylaw would define bullying and outline specific protocols and processes that would address incidences of bullying. It would also include guidelines for enforcement and tangible, appropriate, and relevant consequences for the behavior. The bylaw would provide a helpful guideline for educators, parents, and students of what is and what is not acceptable behavior.
“Citizens will be held accountable for their actions, thus creating a safer, more supportive environment within our community.” Mundy said. “It is essential that we, as a council, take action to address this issue because if we don’t then it demonstrates a fundamental failure to protect members of our city.”
She said implementing the bylaw would also be an effective way of raising awareness and educating residents about this issue.
“It’s a huge step in moving towards the elimination of emotionally, psychologically, or physically harmful behavior within our community,” Mundy said. “It is also my hope that other municipalities across the province would follow our lead and implement their own anti-bullying bylaws.”
Mundy said it has been nearly one year since Amanda Todd committed suicide because she tormented and bullied.
“On Oct 10, 2012, Amanda committed suicide after years of abuse,” Mundy said. “Since Amanda, too many other vulnerable souls have thought that was the only way to end the torment. The bylaw won’t deter everyone but it might make some people think twice before they threaten on intimidate anyone.”