Tickets for Bullying: Wisconsin Community to Fine Parents for Kids' Behavior

Tuesday, 04 Jun 2013 02:33 PM

By Michael Mullins

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A Wisconsin community is now ticketing parents whose children are guilty of tormenting other children.

The Madison, Wis., suburb of Monona approved an ordinance last month that allows police to cite the parents of chronic bullies, NBC TODAY reported.

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After an initial warning, the bully's parents can be fined up to $114 if their child continues to exhibit aggressive, destructive behavior toward another child within 90 days of the first offense.

"I think parents should be held accountable for their child’s actions, but I also think that in doing so, they need some education and resources about how they can help their child, Julie Hertzog, director of the National Bullying Prevention Center, told TODAY.

"For so long, we were just looking at our schools as being responsible for this, but now we understand that it’s about community working together: It’s the schools, it’s the parents, it’s the law enforcement," Hertzog added.

To her knowledge, Hertzog said Madison is the first community to pass such a policy, and she doesn't expect police will enforce it very often.

The town’s chief of police, Walter Ostrenga, agreed that the ordinance is hard to enforce.

"There’s a lot of discretion here," Ostrenga told TODAY. "If we go to someone’s house and the parents are just at wit’s end, they don’t know what to do, they’ve tried everything, it’s just not working — we’re not going to write those people tickets. That’s not right."

In addition to verbal or physical intimidation in the schoolyard or classroom, the ordinance also covers cyberbullying.

So far, Ostrenga says he has heard nothing but positive comments from residents regarding the new law.

According to NBPC, nearly one-third of all school-aged children are bullied each year.

On NBPC's website, Hertzog says one of the most downloaded pamphlets is: "What if my child is the bully?"

Hertzog told TODAY that it’s too early to tell whether other communities will decide to follow suit.

Despite supporting the initiative, Hertzog stressed that education is preferred to financial penalties to deter bullying.

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Related stories:

New Laws for Bullying Making Headlines

Obama Says he Was Bullied, Knows What Kids Endure

Students Apologize to Bus Monitor They Ruthlessly Taunted

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