Family & Parenting

A New Law Could Send Parents To Jail If Their Kids Bully Other Children

Do you think this is the right way to curb bullying?

Almost everyone has a story about their experiences with bullies from back when they were in school—whether they were one, dealt with one or watched one wreak havoc on the playground.

Fortunately for young kids today, many schools (and parents) have become more aware of bullying and taken a much stricter stance on it. But has one town gone too far?

North Tonawanda, a town located in western New York, instated a new rule on Oct. 1 that allows parents to be fined $250 or be sentenced to 15 days in jail if their child violates city laws two or more times within a 90-day span.

City laws include rules against breaking curfew and bullying, which means—you guessed it—parents in North Tonawanda can now go to jail for their kid’s cruel behavior in school.

Adobe

City officials said the law was specifically designed to help reduce rates of bullying in town after a bullied child’s mom started pushing for change.

“We hope to never need to use this law but it’s there in extreme cases,” Greg Woytila, superintendent of North Tonawanda’s city school district, told ABC News. “But we need to do a better job and we are continually trying to do that.”

north tonawanda photo
Flickr | Dougtone

As one might expect, the law has stirred up plenty of controversy, as seen in the tweets below. Some believe the law is a step toward a more peaceful environment for students:

Others, however, took issue with the new law for several reasons:

Hopefully, the law won’t need to be used at all—but for now, at least, it’s sparking a much-needed conversation around bullying.

Around a quarter to a third of American students have said they’re bullied at school, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and many parents say they don’t know how to respond to bullying incidents—regardless of whether their kids are the victims or the perpetrators of the bad behavior.

Wondering if your kid might be a bully? Perhaps don’t lead with, “Listen, your behavior could send mom to jail.”

Instead, look for signs that they may be lashing out at others or seeking affirmation—then work to correct that behavior, seeking outside support if you need it. Because regardless of whether you live in North Tonawanda, bullying is something we should all be trying to stop in its tracks.