Parents to pay for students’ bullying behavior

Parents to pay for students’ bullying behavior

(Wis.) Parents in the village of Plover could be fined for their child’s repeated bullying of others in a decision city board members say will help put an end to a wide-spread problem.

The Plover Village Board approved an ordinance earlier this month that allows police to issue a warning to the parent of a child found to be bullying others. If a second incident occurs within 90 days of the first warning, an officer may issue the parent a $124 fine.

“In my opinion, parenting has a very significant role in bullying, mainly because the parent may not even realize their child is participating in it,” Tom Davies, Plover Village Board president, said in an interview. “This ordinance takes the first step to notify the parents that their child is in fact participating in this practice.

“Our effort was to have some way to try and address the problem and put some teeth into the solution,” Davies said.

Studies have long shown that bullying can negatively impact students’ grades, self-esteem, attendance and self-confidence. Students who are repeatedly bullied can become depressed or even suicidal, and those who bully others are at increased risk for substance use, academic problems and violence later in life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Davies said his hope is that involving parents in this way will lead to conversations that result in services such as counseling to help address underlying issues in students who bully others in school or online.

The ordinance, proposed by Plover Police Chief Dan Ault, is based on a similar bullying ordinance passed in Monona, Wisconsin, in 2013. In the two years since it was passed, three warnings have been issued by Monona police, but no fines assessed.

According to the PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, many students who bully others may be bullied themselves, and addressing the issue can be complex.

“It’s important for parents who find out their child is bullying to have access to resources and education – and the opportunity to be informed – so that when they talk with their children, they have strategies to help them address and change their behavior,” Julie Hertzog, the center’s director, said in an email.

In a national 2013 survey, CDC researchers found that 20 percent of high school students reported being bullied on campus in the previous year, while 15 percent said bullying had occurred online. It is believed, however, that the rate of online bullying incidents have increased since that study was conducted.

Following a wave of high-profile student suicides attributed to bullying across the country, many states passed legislation aimed at curbing online bullying, which typically occurs via some type of social media. There are now 49 states with anti-bullying laws in place.

“Bullying has been in the headlines all over this country and has a significant relevance, in my opinion, to truancy and also is a cause for many suicides,” Davies said. “I believe this is a step in the right direction.” more