In a story on ABC News, called “Parents in New York town could face jail, fine under new anti-bullying law” a controversy over the law is being debated across the nation.
According to the story:
Parents in a New York town could end up in jail if their children are found to have bullied others, thanks to a new law.
Victoria Crago began advocating for the law in North Tonawanda, New York, after she said her eighth-grade son was attacked by a classmate right in front of her.
Parents could be fined $250 and sentenced to 15 days in jail, according to North Tonawanda City Attorney Luke Brown. Parents could face punishment if their child violates the city’s curfew or any city law, including bullying, twice over the course of 90 days.
“In reality, what we’re looking for is to engage the parents in the process and try and work on a solution,” Brown said.
The new law is modeled after a similar push in Wisconsin to hold parents accountable, according to Brown. The law went into effect in North Tonawanda Oct. 1.
USA Today asks in an article, “Is your kid a bully? You could end up behind bars in this New York community.”
The law also targets parents who host parties with illegal activities or whose kids break curfew, per the Buffalo News. It comes after a wave teenage terror in the city, largely led this year by a pack of middle school boys, a juvenile aid officer told the newspaper.
After a classmates attacked her son in June, Victoria Crago teamed up with other parents to form a Facebook group called “North Tonawanda Coalition for Safe Schools and Streets.” The bullies are too young to face jail time, she told WIVB 4, and that’s part of the problem.
Inspiration for the law came from four towns in Wisconsin that passed similar rules. That was four years ago, the News reported, and it appears no parents have been charged under the laws since.
Police Chief Daniel Ault of Plover, Wis., said public education on the law proved key in his community.
“If you just roll it out, you get, ‘It’s government regulation, government telling you how to raise your children,'” he told the News. “
It’s not us telling you how to raise your children. It’s us telling you, ‘Please raise your children.’”
NBC’s Channel 2 WGRZ.com ran a story called “Questions linger over anti-bullying law in NT”
Tracy and Tim Rodemeyer, whose son Jamey died of suicide in 2011 after being bullied, said they have mixed feelings about the new law. On one hand, they believe North Tonawanda has made a good-faith effort to prevent bullying in their schools and their neighborhoods. They believe the threat of jail time or a fine may force some parents to intervene in cases of severe bullying or harassment.
However, they also have some concerns about punishing parents, who may not always be able to control their children’s behavior at every hour of the day.
“It’s a step in the right direction, but I don’t know if it’s the right step,” Tracy Rodemeyer said. “I think it’s still pushing a lot of the responsibility away from the kids that are actually doing the wrong stuff here.”
I think a lot of bullying today is amplified because of technology. Kids never get any downtime from their peers and the bullying follows them home on their computers and smartphones. Studies show that most bullying occurs in middle school. The kids doing the bullying aren’t suffering consequences for their behavior, or they would stop. They’re also too young to be arrested so this town in New York decided to punish the parents.
What do you think of making parents responsible for their kids’ actions by threatening a $250 fine or jail time? The controversy is that some parents think the threat of jail time is too much. Is it government overreach? Or is it a wake-up call to end bullying, which seems to be a severe problem in their community?