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Saskatoon Anti-Bullying Bylaw Could See You Fined For Smack-Talking Almost Anywhere

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Smack talk. Pinching. Name calling.

All activities that could soon net you a fine of up to $2,500 in the City of Saskatoon.

The city council there is set to vote Monday on an anti-bullying bylaw that would level fines for a host of acts.

They include "kicking, pushing and hair pulling," as well as verbal acts such as "taunting, tormenting, name calling, ridiculing, insulting, mocking and directing slurs towards another person."

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Saskatoon, at night. (Photo: Andre Nantel/Getty Images)

The bylaw comes after the city asked legal staff to draft legislation that would address bullying in February 2014, the Saskatoon StarPhoenix reported.

If passed, it would apply at restaurants, bars, parking lots or "any building or structure" that the public can access.

Fines for a first offence would top out at $300, while second or more offences could see people fork over as much as $2,500.

Council has been given two drafts of the bylaw: one applies to schools and schoolyards while they're in session, the other does not.

The version of the bylaw that includes schools has the support of Coun. Ann Iwanchuk, who said parents have told her for years that such a tool is necessary, according to the StarPhoenix.

"If it was effectively being looked after, we wouldn't be here with this bylaw today."

And though school boards say they can already address bullying themselves, Iwanchuk isn't convinced.

"If it was effectively being looked after, we wouldn't be here with this bylaw today."

The bylaw also has a supporter in Brian Trainor, a former police sergeant who speaks on bullying in schools throughout Saskatchewan.

It's a "real nice middle ground that allows the police to do something that is more restorative than punishing," Trainor told CBC News.

He noted that bullying cases don't necessarily have to involve fines or court hearings — they can also be mediated.

"It's so needed because it's a tool that police will have on their tool belt," he said of the bylaw.

But not everyone is so supportive.

Saskatoon Coun. Darren Hill tweeted Friday that he won't support the current bylaw.

Numerous Twitter users are not convinced either.

Regina's anti-bullying bylaw was passed in 2006 — but unlike the one being proposed in Saskatoon, it doesn't cover private businesses, the StarPhoenix noted.

A 2015 study by Columbia University showed that U.S. anti-bullying laws were effective so long as they included a number of components set down by the Department of Education.

The research showed that students in states with anti-bullying laws were 24 per cent less likely to report that they were harassed.

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