Summerside city council has taken a major step forward to deal with the serious issue of bullying.
It’s a problem that has generated headlines nationwide, young people being persecuted, some to the point where they take their own lives.
It’s a problem that everyone should be involved in, a problem that needs to be addressed.
On Tuesday night, the city police services committee voted to take a wide-ranging attack on bullying in Summerside.
The entire process was started last year when Councillor Tina Mundy, chairwoman of the city’s police services committee.
Mundy put forward a motion that the city adopts an anti-bullying bylaw. There was nothing on the books to specifically address bullying and the idea became a starting point.
Initially, the anti-bullying bylaw was favoured by city council but, after review of similar bylaws in other municipalities and the difficulties they had in enforcing the legislation, it was decided that Summerside needed to go a different route. And they’ve done that.
In October, council directed Chief Administrative Officer Bob Ashley to work in conjunction with Police Chief David Poirier and the city’s legal department to research the possibility of creating a City of Summerside anti-bullying bylaw.
The report found that enforcement of such a bylaw would be challenging. Other municipalities that have enacted similar legislation have had little or no success in convictions.
Ashley analyzed the similar bylaws in other communities and the difficulties associated with enforcement and came up with a number of alternative ways the city could deal with the problem.
Based on Ashley’s report, city council has decided to take the lead on this initiative by helping to organize a united front with a community-based approach to the problem.
The move to make it a community-based effort should not only involve groups such as the police department, the Community Safety and Crime Prevention Advisory Committee, the Boys and Girls Club of Summerside, and Generation XX, but also youth, businesses, and local service organizations.
Council recognizes that bullying is not specific to youth but happens everywhere, on the street, at work, and in the home.
The community of Summerside needs to support its elected council in this effort for it to work.
Council is backing up its actions by emphasizing that the city consider providing financial support for the initiative in the upcoming municipal budget.
Now that the city has outlined their plans, it’s time for the province and the federal government to do likewise.
Council is closely watching the progress of a federal anti-bullying law that is under discussion in Ottawa. That legislation goes to second reading in the spring.