The New London Common Council approved the first reading of an ordinance that prohibits bullying and harassment.
The ordinance seeks to give the police department another tool to hold individuals accountable for bullying or harassing behavior.
Police Chief Jeff Schlueter told council members Tuesday, June 10, that it would help them in cases where lesser charges are more applicable than state charges.
“We’re just looking to add this in the city ordinances because we are quite often having situations in our school and with children that don’t quite fit the criteria of disorderly conduct or harassment – especially when we are dealing with messaging and all the other technology we have nowadays,” Schlueter said.
“There are some state statutes dealing with these electronic devices, but this will definitely help us on the lesser charges when we’re not looking for state charges,” he said.
Ordinance 9.44 defines bullying as: “A form of harassment and is defined as an intentional course of conduct which is reasonably likely to intimidate, emotionally abuse, slander, threaten or intimidate another person and which serves no legitimate purpose.”
“Harassment” is defined as any conduct; whether verbal, physical, or by any mode of communication; which is prohibited by State Statues or “is likely to create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment and services no legitimate purpose.”
The ordinance applies to all ages and also applies to anyone inducing another person to engage in the behavior.
Among other things the ordinance provides a subsection on parental responsibility.
It is unlawful for any parent or guardian to allow bullying or harassing behavior.
The ordinance also states that if the parents of a minor are informed of an offense by law enforcement, and the minor commits a separate offense within 90 days of the first, the parent or guardian is presumed to have allowed the new violation.
The council will vote on a second reading of the ordinance at their July meeting.