Police will work with the school to identify bullies — and potentially issue fines to their parents
In what appears to be a growing trend, another town has decided to fine the parents of bullies if they don’t heed warnings from police about their child’s behavior. In a time where bullying takes on many forms, it’s encouraging to see schools and law enforcement doing something about it. The way a kid behaves starts at home, so it makes sense to involve parents in a way that will force them to pay attention.
According to The Daily Buzz, Shawano, Wisconsin police can now hold parents financially accountable to the tune of $366 if their child is found to fit the description of a bully. This isn’t limited to physically injuring someone — the law would also address verbal harassment and cyber bullying, which is very appropriate in an age where kids don’t simply escape their bullies the moment they get home from school. With social media, kids can now harass and torture each other any time with the swipe of an app. It’s about time law enforcement and schools took this form of bullying as seriously as any other.
The parents are given a 90-day period to address their child’s bullying ways. The police will work in conjunction with the Shawano school district to identify the bullies and work with their parents. If their behavior doesn’t improve, the fine will be assessed. A second offense causes the fine to almost double — $681.
Of course, there are those who criticize the effort saying it won’t help. A parent is quoted saying, “People got to learn to get along with each other…I don’t think fining is the answer to it.”
Yes, well, in a magical dreamland where it rains unicorn tears, that might work. But we live in a world where some parents are either woefully unaware of how shitty their kids are behaving or simply don’t care. Addressing the level of apathy that causes a parent to do nothing when they’re told their child is a bully would require an extreme measure. Making them pay sounds perfectly reasonable to me.
Shawano police chief Mark Kohl says, “It creates an avenue for us to work with parents to help find solutions.” I’d like to have faith that the police would be prudent in deciding who should receive the fines — exploring other avenues of solving the issues first. But with bullying being as insidious as it is these days, it’s impossible to take the issue too seriously. If that means charging some parents a few hundred bucks to get their attention, it’s hard to see why anyone would think it’s a bad idea.
With older children and teens, there are concerns of bullied kids turning to self-harm or even taking their own lives. And with children of any age, bullying is a huge problem because it can interfere with their education, their mental health and their general feelings about school and friends. It seems entirely reasonable to punish parents when their kids can’t behave and treat others with respect — because home is where they should be picking up those values to begin with.
As the mother of kids who’ve been bullied, I would be thrilled if my town adopted a law like this. In a situation with our daughter recently, we were met with a mom who refused to believe her child was bullying at all, let alone willing to work with us to fix the problem. And on top of that, she confronted me in a hostile way in front of other parents, insisting her child wasn’t doing anything wrong, without any evidence whatsoever to back her up.
In a case like that, it’s obvious where her daughter is learning the combative and bully-like behavior she’s displayed toward my child and other kids as well. When the parent positively refuses to parent, fining them might be one of the only ways to drive home that something needs to be done. And I’ll be damned if my child is going to have her feelings hurt and her spirit crushed over and over because some horrible parent doesn’t want to see what’s right in front of her.
When parents won’t parent, things need to escalate. It isn’t fair or right to have innocent kids pay the price for someone else’s choice to let their child go unpunished for bullying their peers. It’s encouraging to see more towns taking this issue seriously enough to make it a crime. If it means kids are being protected, I’m all for it.