Bullying is a problem I think we can all agree has a terrible effect on our children. Bullying (and now cyberbullying) have been a source of frustration for parents of both bullies and victims. A small town in Wisconsin, however, thinks it has an answer.
Raising a bully in Monona, Wisc., can cost parents a pretty penny.
Police in the town are now holding parents liable for failing to address their kids' bad behavior. Bullying fines start at $114 and repeat offenses can cost parents up to $177 every time.
The new municipal ordinance is a response to an uptick in school shootings, teen suicides and cyber bullying. Monona Police Chief Walter Ostrenga believes that solutions to this "global" problem start at home. He's hoping that the citations will push parents to take responsibility for their children's actions.
The tickets are a municipal code violation, not a criminal offense. Like any other violation, the victim will have to file a report with the police. The cops would then gather cell phone or computer evidence and take statements from witnesses. Before being ticketed, parents will be informed in writing by an officer of a previous violation by the same child within the past 90 days.
The first offense gets a parent a fine of just over $100. Second offenses and up are nearly $200.
While I will be the first to applaud any initiative to attack the bullying problem, I am a bit concerned at the idea of police fining parents for it. Call me old-fashioned (I'm not even 25 so please don't), but shouldn't the kid be held responsible for his own bad behavior? I realize a good parent will turn right around and say "You can pay, or you work for the money" but that is not every parent. One thing we face with the bullying problem is that we have been moving toward a society that sees little parental involvement in their children's lives.
This problem will get parents involved, but far too late in the development process. What about initiatives that get parents involved earlier in their children's lives, before these behavioral patterns set in? Where are the programs that can help you interpret signs your of your children being bullied by others?
I also have a slight problem with a city using a social issue to essentially tax people for their parenting, but that's a different matter entirely and one I don't have enough whiskey to deal with right now.
Brave soul, you can follow me on Twitter (@joec_esquire) or check out my other ramblings here.