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If your kid’s a bully, get ready to pay huge fines

The solution to bullying isn’t a simple one, but it’s a problem that can’t be ignored. According to American Society for the Positive Care of Children, 1 in 3 U.S. students says they have been bullied at school. Now one small Wisconsin city is tackling the problem head-on, but the approach is a controversial one.

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Police in Shawano are going to fine parents if their child is caught picking on others, either by physical intimidation or cyberbullying. Officers will work with the Shawano School District to identify bullies and give their parents 90 days to put a stop to it. If they’re not successful, the parents could be fined $366. And if their child bullies again within one year, they could be fined a further $681.

Other Wisconsin cities to adopt the same ordinance are

Faced with the prospect of a $1,000 fine, most parents would do their damnedest to ensure their kid doesn’t put a foot out of line. But is this really the best way to cut down on bullying?

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Bullies have to be stopped, but for any approach to have more than a short-term impact, it has to go deeper than the parents’ pockets. If someone is going to bail them out, where is the incentive to change? These kids need to understand why their behavior is unacceptable and what the long-term consequences will be if it continues.

Fining parents of bullies is no guarantee the bullying will stop, and it could do a lot more harm than good. What if a child who’s been bullying comes from an abusive home? Is fining their parents going to help that situation?

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If the threat of a hefty fine is enough to make parents give their kids the attention they need and to consider what’s led to the bullying behavior, perhaps Shawano’s new ordinance will work. But it’s not all about money, and those parents may need some support and guidance to deal with their kids’ problems in the right way.

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where the wild things are
Image: Robin Chavez Photography

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