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Parents Face Fines for Kids' Repeated Bullying Behavior

Plover Police Chief Dan Ault/Stevens Point Journal

The Short of It

In an effort to make parents accountable for their kids' bullying, one Wisconsin town is enacting fines on parents for their kids' repeated bad behavior.

The Lowdown

There's no doubt bullying is a troubling problem for American kids. According to a CDC study, 20 percent of high school students reported being bullied at school, while 15 percent reported being bullied online. So it's understandable some towns are taking drastic measures to try to reduce bullying.

A new Plover Village Board ordinance allows police to notify parents in writing of a bullying incident, and then ticket them if they're caught bullying again within 90 days. Including court costs, multiple infractions could amount to a fine of $124. This newly approved measure is modeled after a similar ordinance in Monona, Wis.

The question is: what constitutes bullying under this ordinance? Firstly, the police must be involved. An incident can take place anywhere, including school or online.

"You're the parent. You've got to have some responsibility in this," Plover Police Chief Dan Ault explained to Stevens Point Journal Media about the measure. He hopes before tickets are given out, parents will use the first incident as a teachable moment. "If we can intervene before it turns ugly, that's when we can really make a difference."

The Upshot

So far there's no evidence the Monona ordinance has worked in reducing bullying. Detective Sgt. Ryan Losby says no tickets have been issued in the two years since it took effect, and he worries it's being perceived as an empty threat that's not making a real difference.

It would be interesting to see some real metrics that prove one way or the other how making bullying a punishable offense for parents affects the issue. Either way, clearly kids' bad behavior starts at home, and a parent's involvement in correcting unacceptable actions is a must.

Do you think the ordinance is fair or goes too far?

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