New Law Fines Parents for Child’s Bullying Behavior

Monona, Wisconsin is taking parent accountability a step further by enforcing what has become a national discussion and debate. Parents of children who have repeatedly bullied their peers can now be ticketed and fined.

Passed by the Monona City Council on May 20, the ordinance serves as an effort to reduce abuse and bullying among young people. Though no specific incident led to its creation, Monona Police Chief Wally Ostrenga states that it stems from a general concern for the consequences of bullying across the country. He feels that the clause will be used sparingly and only in cases where parents are uncooperative.

Sometimes you’ll knock on someone’s door and they won’t want to talk to you — their kids are perfect, they could never do anything wrong,” Ostrenga said. “This is for those times when we get the door slammed in our faces.

Prior to being ticketed, a parent or guardian must be informed in writing of a separate violation of bullying by the same minor within the last 90 days. The first fine is $ 114, following violations within the same year carry fines of $ 177 each. Those who make an effort to address a child’s behavior will not be ticketed.

While anti-bullying advocates like Jason Burns, executive director of Equality Wisconsin–a Milwaukee organization geared towards bullying prevention in schools–think the ordinance is “fantastic,” others like Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist, Gail Rosenblum, believe it is “well-intentioned,” but fears it could have negative consequences.

While the ordinance is only applicable in the city of Monona, Det. Sgt. Ryan Losby, who shepherded the ordinance, hopes to convince other Dane County districts to adopt it.

BMWK– Do you think this tactic to deter bullying is fair? Should parents be held 100 percent responsible for their child’s behavior outside of their supervision?

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