BY: Citizens Count
North Tonawanda, a city in New York, recently passed a bill that allows a $250 fine and 15 days of jail time for a parent if their child is caught twice within a 90 day period outside of curfew or violating any city law, which includes bullying. The law is designed to hold parents accountable for the actions of their children.
Several communities in Wisconsin fine parents whose children bully. Last year, Shawano, Wisconsin passed an ordinance giving parents 3 months to react if their child is caught bullying. If their child continues to bully, they are fined $366, and if there is a second offense, the fine increases to $681. The three-month period gives parents time to start a dialog with their child.
New Hampshire passed a Pupil Safety and Violence Protection Act in 2000 which was expanded upon in 2010 to include off-campus incidents such as cyberbullying. Currently there are no bullying laws in New Hampshire that penalize the parents of bullies.
The Pitfalls of Parents’ ‘time out’
Opponents of jailing a bully’s parents question who will take care of the child if the incarcerated individual is a single parent. They also point out that bullying is often caused by an underlying problem at home and jailing the parent does not solve the problem, and in fact, may make it worse. Bullying is an issue that needs to be addressed jointly by the parents, child, and school. Additionally, low income families may not be able to afford a fine.
Children need parental guidance
On the other hand, parental rules and enforcement gives children the tools with which to make good decisions. Proponents of penalizing parents claim that children, up to and including teenagers, tend to react with emotion and are incapable of making rational decisions which is why the parents need to provide guidance and supervision. Teachers are held accountable for the education they give our children; why shouldn’t parents be responsible for the education they get at home?
Jail time for a bully’s parent? Let us know what you think.