Parents of Bullies Now Face Hundreds of Dollars in Fines

Classroom with empty wooden desks and with green board , in school

Gone are the days when you merely had to dodge someone at school in fear of your lunch money being stolen. Bullying has become a serious problem -- including online attacks -- resulting in more and more children committing suicide because of it. In efforts to cut back on the number of such tragic incidents, the city council of Shawano, Wisconsin, has approved legislation that fines parents of bullies, and you know what? It could be a start.


No, parents aren't going to be handed "Your son/daughter is a bully" citations on the street.

The new legislation in Shawano, Wisconsin, would allow for parents to receive a warning only after police determined their child is being a bully. Even then, moms and dads would have 90 days to try to address the bad behavior. Should, however, that same child continue bullying others, his or her parents would get a $366 fine ... and then a $681 fine if the bullying persists.

While there are many people opposed to punishing parents for their kids' behavior, as you can see, a good portion of folks don't think a fine is that bad of an idea.

More from The Stir: 11 Long-Term Effects of Childhood Bullying

When I first heard about this, I thought it was downright nuts. How the hell are you going to punish parents for their child's bad behavior? They aren't the ones doing it. It's easy for me to focus on the money that would leave in a mother's wallet. (That's money for groceries and other household needs.)

But then I had to stop and think about the other side of the equation, the one where parents are doing their best to try to comfort a bullied child ... and that made me look at things differently.

As much as it would be great if the punishment for bullying could be kids doing long hours of community service, personally, I feel something needs to be done. Too many kids are taking their lives because of bullying. And while I'm thankful I never had to experience that growing up, I won't take away anyone's personal journey to fight those who attack them on a daily basis -- or tell them to "Suck it up," or "Get over it." (It's a completely different animal these days, especially when you add in modern technology that can make people targets 24/7.)

Maybe some parents aren't aware of how their kid is behaving in school. And maybe some are and just don't give a damn, which would make the concept of a fine justified. Yes, kids will be kids -- and there are certain "facts of life" all of us have to go through. That doesn't, however, mean moms and dads look the other way because they feel their kids' behavior isn't a big deal. (If the cops have to get involved and they determine it is -- yeah, it's kinda serious.)

I would completely lose it if I ever found out one of my kids were acting up in school, let alone bullying someone. They're being raised to be respectful and always (well, try) to do the right thing. You wouldn't even need to threaten me with a fine or call Olivia Pope -- mama would have this situation #handled.

More from The Stir: Are You Raising a Bully? (QUIZ)

While I'm not jumping for joy about the amount of the fine (um, $366 and $681 are some coins), I do hope there are resources available to help parents who are trying to do the right thing. Sometimes, a kid receives the message his or her parents try to teach. And other times, it goes in one ear and out the other. It would be a shame for Mom's bank account to keep getting zapped when she's doing her best to rectify the situation. I also think those in power in favor of the fine need to also consider parents whose behavior is what's making their child lash out and bully. (God forbid we place those kids in a more dangerous situation ...)

Whether you agree with the fine or not, the bottom line is this: We need to protect our children, and we need to be more aware of what our kids are doing.

And if something as crazy as a fine can serve as a wake-up call -- getting more moms and dads involved in their kids' lives -- maybe we need it for the time being. (It's a shame we do, but we need to do something.)




Image via Valerii Ivashchenko/Shutterstock

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