This New Wisconsin Law Punishes Parents in Bullying Cases

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Leaders everywhere, from cities to workplaces to schools and other educational institutions, are looking for better ways to punish bullies. There are initiatives from the White House all the way down to small communities, but on a big scale, nothing really seems to be moving the needle.

So Shawano, Wisconsin, is trying something new – they’re going to make the parents of minor bullies culpable by law, and see if that makes a difference.

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The law applies to online and in-person bullying, and it includes a grace period after the first infraction is met with a warning. The idea is that once parents are aware of the situation, they should have an opportunity (a 90-day period) to deal with the situation themselves before further action is taken.

If the child does not improve after the 90 days and gets caught bullying again, the parents will be fined $366.

Another infraction results in a second fine of $681.

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Not chump change, especially for families who aren’t well-off to begin with.

Police are hoping that the new law can help them combat both bullying and cyberbullying in the area, says Police Chief Mark Kohl.

“We feel without getting the parent involved, just giving a ticket of fining someone out of this isn’t the answer. This isn’t generated toward the kids being kids, some playground banter. This is the person that is meticulously using social media or saying things that are vulgar in an attempt to hurt, discredit, and really demean a person.”

I’m waiting for follow-up statistics on how this ends up working before making any final judgements on the idea itself, but I applaud their out of the box thinking – and their attempt to get the parents involved in combatting an issue that typically starts at home.

What do you think?