The city of Shawano, Wisconsin, recently enacted a new ordinance that would fine the parents of students who are deemed bullies.
Under the new ordinance, parents and guardians will have 90 days after they’re informed by a police officer of their child’s behavior to intervene.
If the parent doesn’t stop their child from acting as a bully the parent will be fined $366.
If there is a second offense within one year, the parent will be fined $681.
I’ve always thought that the parents of bullies should be held responsible for the actions of their children since they’re usually in denial about their kids being bullies, however, this legislation is not the answer and may only make things worse. Think about it for a moment: bullies thrive on two things, intimidation and escalation. If a kid’s parents get fined that kid is only going to make things worse for his/her victims and these fines will do nothing to curtail bullying. Let’s not also forget that schools often have a hard time actually identifying bullies. In too many cases kids who are identified as bullies are actually the victims of bullies who try to defend themselves.
In a perfect world these fines would cause the parents to admonish their kids for being bullies but in reality their parents will continue to deny their kids’ behavior and their kids will lash out at their victims in retaliation.
Instead of trying to combat bullying we should be teaching our kids not to be victims. My biggest regret from all my years of being bullied in school is not standing up to my bullies. A little bit of self-confidence can carry you far.