Whether we’d like to admit it or not, there’s a bullying problem in our schools today. Each school has a different protocol when it comes to tackling this issue. One option, however, is fining the parents of bullies. A school district in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin is proposing the idea of making parents pay a fine of up to $313 if their children are caught bullying other students.
The superintendent of the Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools, Craig Broeren, has asked two municipalities to check out the district’s bullying policy last fall. However not much was done, until notes telling a seventh-grader to kill herself surfaced online in February.
Broeren told The New York Times that parents had to be aware of what their child is doing at school and take an active role in changing the child’s behaviour if needed. “By its very nature, bullying is not overt,” Broeren told the newspaper. “Someone doesn’t holler down the hall in earshot of adults.”
The Times reported that according to the U.S. Department of Education, 20 percent of students between the ages of 12 to 18 experience school-based bullying each year. Besides Wisconsin Rapids, a few other municipalities and at least one state legislature proposed bullying fines. Some have even considered jailing the parents of kids who bully.
In the areas that have passed the legislation regarding bullying fines, the penalties are not imposed often. For instance, Plover, Wisconsin has had a bullying fine ordinance for a few years now, but police have yet to impose a fine. The police generally just send warning letters to parents. Similarly, the legislation has been passed in North Tonawanda, New York whereby parents of bullies may be fined $250 and jailed up to 15 days – yet no one has been fined or jailed.
“I’m hopeful to never get to that point, but it’s nice to have as another tool,” Luke Brown, the city attorney said in an interview with The Times. “Previously, the parents would know there was no repercussion.”
Darren O’Brien is a father to teenage daughters who have been bullied at school. From being shoved into lockers to being recorded without her consent, O’Brien wanted to put a stop to the abuse his children were facing. He is one of the parents who are looking forward to seeing if the proposal would pass next week.
“If it starts costing the parents a couple hundred bucks every time their kid bullies somebody, maybe that will change the course of action,” O’Brien told The Times. “Something has to be done.”