Wisconsin Town Fines Parents of Bullies

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A new law in a Wisconsin town will force the parents of bullies to pony up for their children’s taunting and teasing.

In Monona, Wisc., parents may be fined up to $177 if their sons or daughters harass or mock other children. Under the law, passed by a city council vote in late May, bullying is defined as “an intentional course of conduct which is reasonably likely to intimidate, emotionally abuse, slander, threaten or intimidate another person” for no legitimate reasons.

The municipal ordinance effectively outlaws bullying by anyone under the age of 12 in the city school system.

Cyberbullying is also included underneath the ordinance’s definition.

The fine was established as a last resort, and police officials said the ordinance targets only parents who are especially uncooperative in addressing their children’s bullying behaviors. Prior to receiving a fine, parents, guardians or other caregivers must be given written notice within 90 days of a bullying incident. Parents will be fined $114 for first-time offenses. The fine for subsequent offenses increases to almost $200.

Monona Police Chief Wally Ostrenga told the Wisconsin State Journal that the ordinance is intended to increase parental liability.

“Sometimes, you’ll knock on someone’s door and they won’t talk to you -- their kids are perfect, they could never do anything wrong,” he told the Journal.

“This is for those times when we get the door slammed in our faces.”

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