A town in Wisconsin is making a move to punish the parents of repeat bullies by fining them $124. This may sound extreme, but if the parents won’t deal with the problem, who will? Hitting them in the wallet may be the only way to get parents on board with correcting their child’s bullying behavior.
The Plover Village Board approved the anti-bullying ordinance this month. It states that if a child is caught bullying, the parents will receive a notice in writing. If they bully again within 90 days of that notice, the parents receive the fine. Plover Police Chief Dan Ault wrote and proposed the ordinance. From WCVB news, he says, “It’s not the school’s responsibility to raise the kids. It’s the school’s job to teach the kids. It’s not the police’s job to raise your kids. It’s the parents’ job to raise the kids.”
The first warning comes with an offer to help the parents figure out the issue. Ault says, “If they don’t know what to do, we’re certain we’ll be able to provide some guidance on who to contact. Do kids have disputes, yes, but this repeated behavior where somebody you know, is intentionally being malicious, that’s when we’re involved.” It’s far more productive to offer ways to stop the behavior from happening rather than simply slapping parents with a fine. In many cases, the parents are likely at a loss for ways to help their child stop bullying and the help would be welcome. In other cases, there may not be any discipline at home and that’s where a fine like this would be a great idea. At least I think so.
I come at my feelings on this subject from a deeply personal place. My children have both experienced bullying this school year, mostly on the bus, and the culprits are always the same kids. I’ve since had the opportunity to meet the mother of one of my daughter’s tormentors and suffice to say, she doesn’t even believe there’s a problem let alone plan to punish her daughter for whatever she did to send my child off the bus in tears several days a week. Luckily, the school principal, counselor and bus driver met and came up with a plan to keep these girls away from my daughter, but I’ve heard her bullies have now turned their attention to other targets. In a situation like this, a fine to the parents for their clear refusal to deal with their own children may not be a bad idea. There’s only so much a school can do if nothing is being enforced at home.
We’re finally at a point as a society where bullying is no longer acceptable nor is it seen as a “right of passage” for children as it was years ago. Parents need to step in and discipline their kids for bullying and if they won’t do it on their own, someone needs to intervene. Other parents shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of someone else’s choice not to punish their child for treating their peers badly. And other kids certainly shouldn’t have to deal with being afraid to go to school because of it.