Parents of children who bully others will find themselves lighter wallet in the Wisconsin town of Shawano. The town passed an anti-bullying ordinance.
The new ordinance prohibits bullying or harassment, prohibits retaliation against any person who reports bullying or harassment, and also holds parents and guardians responsible for such behavior of children that are under the age of 18.
The ordinance includes fines of $60 for a child’s first bullying offense, but with court costs, it would cost parents $313. Parents will get a written notice before any citation is issued.
A second offense would cost parents $100 plus additional fees and a third offense would cost $250 plus fees.
If after 90 days if the bullying continues or the child is caught bullying again, even online, the fine is $366 and if there is another offense the fine goes up to $681.
Police and school officials in the town hope the ordinance will make the amount of bullying as well as cyberbullying decrease.
“We feel without getting the parent involved, just giving a ticket or fining someone out of this isn’t the answer,” said Chief Mark Kohl of the Shawano Police Department. “This isn’t generated towards the kids being kids, some playground banter. This is the person that is meticulously using social media or saying things that are vulgar in an attempt to hurt, discredit, and really demean a person.”
Most parents in the town seem to be on board.
“I think something needs to be done for sure,” said one Shawano parent.
However, others aren’t so sure. “Often there are other factors in play, and poverty can be one of them. If that’s the case, would a fine solve anything, or exacerbate the problem?” another parent shared.
Other towns in Wisconsin such as Plover and Monona have implemented the law and have seen a marked a decrease in bullying, with no fines issued yet.