In the Wisconsin Rapids school district, parents could receive fines for their children’s bullying behavior. This ordinance makes bullying and harassment a legal prohibition. It also protects people who report these actions from those who want payback. But most interestingly, it holds parents or legal guardians accountable for bullying behavior of children under 18 years of age.
In 2019, The council set a penalty of $50 for the first incident of bullying. However, the real price could grow to $313 including court costs. However, despite the hype surrounding this ordinance, it was never implemented. But it raised a vital question: What else could schools and parents be doing to prevent bullying?
School District May Fine Parents of Bullies?
The debate around the original idea to fine parents of bullies became intense. For instance, Steve Koth, a representative for District 5, was in favor of it because the school district needed to find another way to address the problem. “If a governmental body is being asked to pass an ordinance to look at bullying, how many levels have failed? To have a governmental body and the police involved should be the last resort.”
Meanwhile, District 4 representative Tom Rayome had opposed the idea. He wanted more discussion and development of the ordinance, which had been initially suggested by Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Craig Broeren. He wanted to give the school district another tool to counter bullying in addition to counseling, intervention, and mental health services.
One incident of bullying that reignited the discussion of bullying involved a girl receiving handwritten notes from her peers. The notes contained mean names and encouragement for her to end her life. The girl’s mother shared the notes in a post on Facebook that was since shared hundreds of times.
In fact, the ordinance to fine parents of children who bully passed in the town of Grand Rapids and in Plover. There, parents could receive a $124 fine if their kids are bullying others. And the Plover Police Chief Dan Ault stated that the department hadn’t needed to fine anyone for the four years since the ruling passed. They have, however, given a dozen warnings. The ordinance is not meant to send citations to as many parents as possible; it’s meant to raise awareness of the issue.