The city law holds parents responsible for their children’s actions
Parents of children who bully other children could face a fine and/or jail time under a new city law in North Tonawanda, New York, a city just north of Buffalo. Which means that the kids who bully won’t just be accountable, through things school expulsion, but their parents may also be legally responsible.
The law took effect on October 1, and according to the Washington Post, parents could be fined $250 and/or sentenced to 15 days in jail if their child violates the city’s curfew or any other city law – which includes an anti-bullying law –twice within a 90-day period. This town takes parental responsibility seriously — very seriously.
City officials said the law is geared toward minors who repeatedly bully other children in public places. The Washington Post also reported that members of the city council – which unanimously passed the law – hope the new law will put an end to bullying by holding parents accountable for their kid’s actions.
“We want the message out there that we’re serious about this. We don’t want anyone to be afraid to be in our city, or walk the streets or go to school,” North Tonawanda Mayor Art Pappas told WIVB4 News. Nonetheless, Pappas said city leadership is focused more on prevention, and repeat offenders, than punishment.
The law comes after four teens were reportedly expelled from North Tonawanda Middle School for alleged bullying, and the town’s leaders say the it’s intended to address repeat bullying.
“We didn’t feel like maybe anything was being done and then all of a sudden I heard about this ordinance going through so it was shocking and welcomed,” Victoria Crago, whose son was attacked by classmates in June, told WIVB4 News.
Although the incident happened off school grounds, Crago was compelled to do something. After she learned that other parents had also complained of violence at North Tonawanda middle school, a Facebook group called the “North Tonawanda Coalition for Safe Schools and Streets” was create to help prevent bullying and violence.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, parents obviously play a critical role in stopping and preventing bullying. According to StopBullying.gov, parents typically believe that their children are less involved in bullying (as victims or perpetrators) than their children report. The organization suggests that parents talk to their children early and often about bullying, and model how to treat others with kindness.
“I think that these teens have figured out that they can get away with this which is why they’re repeat offenders,” said Crago. “But if there’s a tougher law in place it may give them pause.”