The city of Wisconsin Rapids is considering an ordinance to impose fines on parents of bullies, local news outlet The Wisconsin Rapids Tribune reported.
The idea came up after the handwritten notes a high school student sent to a fellow schoolgirl urging her to commit suicide went viral on social media.
The Common Council will consider the anti-bullying ordinance on June 18 after it passed the Legislative Committee earlier last week.
The draft version forbids any forms of bullying, harassment. It also prohibits retaliation against anyone reporting such incidents. Furthermore, it would also hold parents or legal guardians responsible for such actions of minors.
According to the City Attorney Susan Schill, the penalties for a first fineable offense would be $50, with some additional costs amounting the total to $313. Parents would first receive a warning, Schill added.
In Wisconsin Rapids Police Chief Ermin Blevin's view, combating bullying is teamwork. It requires the joint efforts of schools, parents, and the police department. As Chief Blevins put it, if all the parties do not work together, they would not be able to prevent it.
Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Craig Broeren suggested the ordinance in winter this year. He came up with the proposal after a case of bullying against a Wisconsin Rapids Area Middle School seventh-grader went on social media in February.
The bullied girl was doing well, her parents said, highlighting she was handling the situation really well and disregarded what the bullies told her.
It is worth mentioning that that is not the first ordinance of such kind in the state. The Plover Police Department modeled the current one after they implemented a similar ordinance in 2015.
As Plover Police Chief Dan Ault pointed out, the department has not fined anyone in the four years since the ordinance was passed. Also, in his words, the police have issued no more than twenty written warnings for bullying. In his opinion, educating the public was the most significant effect of the previous ordinance.
According to chief Ault, parents were not aware of the seriousness of bullying before the ordinance. They started paying attention to it since they knew there was a penalty.
In response to the widespread critics, Ault said that it was not the government telling parents how to raise their kids. It was the government begging parents to raise their children.
Do you agree or disagree with the proposal parents of bullying children to be fined?