New York Town Passes Law to Fine and Jail Parents Whose Kids are Bullying

Bullying is certainly a problem in our society. It’s been a problem since the dawn of mankind; adults, and kids, bully other people because they need to feel better about themselves. It’s always easier to lash out at others than to fix your own personal problems.

The issue of bullying often has its roots at home. If there are family problems, such as single parent households, absent or disinterested, abusive, or otherwise mistreating parents, a child will not just leave those problems at home; they will follow him/her to school, and he/she will sometimes prey on other kids as a natural reaction.

Not that bullying is excusable, not in any way. But let’s remember that familial breakdown is one of the major contributing factors to it as our society considers how to handle the problem.

One town in northwestern New York is taking that factor seriously, maybe a bit too seriously, and has just enacted a law that will punish parents if their kids are bullying other kids at school, according to local news station WIVB.

NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Parents in North Tonawanda could end up behind bars if their child is found bullying others. The North Tonawanda Common Council hopes the new law will help end bullying by holding parents accountable for their children’s actions.

If a child is caught bullying, or attacking another student, their parent will pay the fine or do the time, according to a law unanimously passed by the North Tonawanda Common Council last week.

The parent could spend up to 15 days in jail, pay $250 or both.

Victoria Crago, whose son was attacked by classmates this past June, is rather supportive of the measure. After the attack, which happened off school grounds, she started pushing for something to be done. Suddenly, there it was.

“We didn’t feel like maybe anything was being done and then all of a sudden I heard about this ordinance going through so it was shocking and welcomed.”

She hopes that the new law will make students think twice about trying anything.

“I think that these teens have figured out that they can get away with this which is why they’re repeat offenders. But if there’s a tougher law in place it may give them pause.”

North Tonawanda Mayor Art Pappas further stated that the emphasis is on deterring repeat offenders, and that they do not want people to be afraid of coming to their town or going to their schools.

“We want the message out there that we’re serious about this. We don’t want anyone to be afraid to be in our city, or walk the streets or go to school.

“I think it’s going to get a message out there. That certain parents who haven’t now have to take some responsibility for their children.”

While kids mistreating each other is certainly problematic, I’m not totally convinced that the solution is to punish the parents if their kids are engaging in such behavior. How does that solve anything?

Ultimately, the kids are responsible for their behavior, and while parents certainly maintain some level of liability through their kids’ younger years, the perpetrators themselves need to experience consequences for their behavior. If it’s a teenager bullying another student constantly, never stopping their abuse, why not have him/her spent a night at juvie and see if that changes their perspective?

If there is a persistent problem, jailing parents is probably not going to bring resolution to the situation. It’s a knee-jerk reaction that I’m sure will see a lawsuit if a parent is sent to jail for the actions of their child.

Do you have any better ideas? Surely there’s something better out there than putting more people into jail, especially the ones who did not actually carry out the act.