See the update at the end of this post on the Rancho Santa Margarita City Council forming a committee to help draft California's anti-bullying ordinance.
ORIGINAL POST, JUNE 25, 6:02 A.M.: This post was supposed to be about the Rancho Santa Margarita City Council tonight considering an anti-bullying ordinance, but then, like manna from the sky, fell a press release from a controversial drug rehab offering a program to rehabilitate bullies, from the perspective that they are "victims."
Newport Beach-based Morningside Recovery was famously blown off by Lindsay Lohan and offered a scholarship in Cory Monteith's honor a few days after the Glee star's overdose death.
But Newporters who lived near Morningside's sober living homes knew it more as the bane of their existence because of the noise, cigarette smoke and other nuisances. The company announced last summer it would close its residential rehabs in Newport Beach and move them to other nearby cities, including Costa Mesa, where similar complaints about sober-living homes have irked residents and city leaders as well.
Now Morningside is "pioneering" a special treatment program for clients with histories of bullying, "addressing their needs as victims." The idea is those who bully were at some point bullied themselves, something they may not realize until it comes out "in a safe, therapist-led group environment," according to Jacqueline Hoagland, Morningside Recovery's primary therapist.
"Often, clients with bullying histories don't make the connection between the memories of these past experiences and their role as emotional triggers in their addictions or psychological issues," she explains in the program's announcement. "Now there are more avenues than ever for bullying to take place, and it's something that happens among children, adolescents and adults alike."
Morningside Recovery calls its "bully-proof treatment track" the first of its kind, with a goal of restoring the inner-strength and self-esteem of those who use their superior strength to sap the self esteem of others.
"Bullying is a community issue that requires compassionate role models at home, the workplace, the classroom, and in therapy," Hoagland mentions. "Building rapports of understanding and empathy is essential to bullying prevention and treatment."
Or, you could just outlaw bullying, as Rancho Santa Margarita Councilman Brad McGirr proposes in his ordinance that would, for the first time anywhere in California, fine parents or guardians whose children bully other minors physically, verbally or psychologically–in person, over the phone or via social media (a.k.a. cyberbullying).
Actually, you can credit social media with driving McGirr to act. He credits a YouTube video of a 15-year-old Canadian girl who said she was bullied and who later committed suicide. Then there was this, much closer to home for McGirr:
"It's always been an issue that bothered me," McGirr told the Orange County Register, revealing that as a minor a fellow student would flick his ears, throw him against lockers, spit in his food and shoot him with a BB gun.
Too bad McGirr's tormenter was not labeled a victim so he could shuffle into rehab.
UPDATE, JUNE 26, 9:14 A.M.: The Rancho Santa Margarita City Council agreed Wednesday night to put together a study group composed of parents, law enforcement and school and city officials to come back with a plan to move the ordinance forward.
"If this were a disease akin to Ebola or AIDS … it would be all over the news," Brad McGirr, the councilman who proposed the drafting of such an ordinance, said during the meeting. "People would be running around looking for a vaccine like crazy … but this is something that is insidious, where parents don't necessary know what is going on and it's not their fault."
McGirr had proposed fining a parent or guardian of a bully up to $500 through what would become California's first anti-bullying ordinance. A similar law was proposed but not approved in Carson earlier this year. Cities in Wisconsin and Missouri are currently the only places in the nation with anti-bullying ordinances.