New Law Fines Parents of Kid Bullies

STORY BY Jessica Elizabeth Pawlarczyk

Published: July 10, 2013

In an effort to curb childhood bullying, the Wisconsin town of Monona has enacted a new, controversial law that holds parents responsible for their kids’ bullying behavior. The law requires parents to pay up $114 if their child is found guilty of bullying; if a child is guilty more than once, the fine increases to $177.

Ryan Losby, a local police sergeant says that the law is meant for “the parents out there who either won’t do anything to try and stop their kids from bullying, or for those who encourage it.”

Nonetheless, the law applies to all parents, including the unfortunate type of parents that promote non-bullying, yet somehow raise kid bullies. In my opinion, a parent can only do so much after a child reaches a certain age; it doesn’t make sense to hold a 12-year-old’s parent for his or her poor conduct. Instead of targeting parents, the law should turn its attention to the real root of the problem: the bully.

In order to actually decrease bullying, the law needs to create punishment for the perpetrator of the crime. Ideally, the punishment would be a corrective and productive one, like mandating the child to attend counseling.

In theory, the law may actually backfire according to Ross Ellis, the CEO of STOMP Out Bullying.

Ellis points out that parents might be so upset about the fine that they “take it out on the kid who was bullying in the first case.”

And so the bully parent bullies the child, who in turn goes to school and imitates the parent’s behavior.

Another big problem associated with the law is the word “bullying” itself. A concrete definition of this word is impossible to construct, at least without hundreds of specific examples. As a result, the ultimate question becomes this: How “mean” or “rude” does a child have to be in order to be labeled a bully?

Although the law clearly has some kinks to work out, at least it is a step in the right direction. Firstly, it sends the message that bullying is intolerable. Secondly, it encourages parents to sit down with their child and have a serious conversation about bullying.

“I think it sends a message that is positive,” said anti-bully expert and author Joel Haber. “Whether it will work or not, we don’t know.”

Only time will tell.

 

Want to know more? Read more about Monona’s controversial new law here

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