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Is your child a bully? Well, we hope you have some money put aside.
To address the seriousness of bullying, the police in Shawano, Wisconsin, now have the right to hold parents accountable if their child fits the description of a bully. Critics of this new law are livid, saying it doesn’t properly address the factors which could drive children to bully at all. Shawano Police Chief Mark Kohl was adamant law enforcement had made the right call, saying:
It creates an avenue for us to work with parents to help find solutions.
Parents with children under the age of 18 will receive a 90-day warning from police if their child is caught bullying others. Bullying is not limited to physical altercations alone. Under this new legislation, verbal harassment and cyber bullying will also be considered. The police will work in conjunction with the Shawano School District to identify bullies and then notify parents.
Parents whose children don’t heed warnings could find themselves slapped with a hefty $366 fine. And they won’t necessarily be in the clear if their child is found to have committed a second offense. Another offense causes the fine to nearly double, leaving parents with a whopping $681 debt for kids who refuse to behave themselves.
But will this legislation actually produce results? Some are positive it will; others are not so certain. Sheriff Kohl says that many parents may not even be aware that their child is a bully to other children and that these fines will serve as a wake-up call. Parents can commit to curbing their child’s actions before it gets worse and the fines will make them aware of such actions. Bullying, says Kohl, has harmful effects.
It can lead to other things [like] drug use…and unfortunately suicide.
One parent is standing behind the new law:
I really believe parents should just discipline their kids in the right way, and I think it’s a good idea.
But another parent’s opinion swayed in the opposing direction, saying:
People got to learn to get along with each other…I don’t think fining is the answer to it.
Is it really that simple, though? You can watch some coverage––and a short, sweet and spirited debate––in the video below.