A school district in Wisconsin will vote today on a proposal which could make parents pay a fine if their children are caught bullying others. Bullying can happen in a variety of ways, places, and contexts. It can take place in the schoolyard, classroom, or online. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 20 percent of students between the ages of twelve to eighteen, experience bullying at school each year.
However, many find it hard to come forward when being bullied. And, often when they do, the consequences for the bully isn’t enough for the behavior to change. According to NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, children aren’t learning their lesson when they are suspended for bullying. That’s why the Wisconsin Rapid Area Schools District will vote on a proposal to fine parents up to $313 if their child is caught bullying. The hope is that a financial consequence will help drive home the real cost of bullying.
Wisconsin Rapid Area Schools Superintendent, Craig Broeren, stated that bullying is a challenge for the school district, and that they require help from law enforcement. “We’ve tried everything we can. But, the behavior is not stopping. Law enforcement can you help us out with the process?” He told NBC Nightly News.
He also informed The New York Times that last fall, he asked two municipalities to assess the districts bullying policy. However, after notes surfaced telling a seventh grader to kill herself, it became clear that this was an urgent issue, which needed to be dealt with immediately.
A nearby town has implemented a similar policy, but has found that often a warning letter to the parents has been effective. So far, fines have not been issued.
Plover Police Chief, Dan Ault says, “A lot of times we found parents had no idea what their kids were doing online. They had no idea what they were doing at school, and on the playground-and they were shocked.”
Parents as well as school staff play a significant role in preventing bullying. Some of the ways we can help are:
- Help children understand bullying
- Keep open communication about bullying
- Model appropriate behavior by treating others with respect
- Encourage children to speak out when they see or experience bullying
While there is still work to be done, if we continue to keep having these important conversations, and implementing consequences, hopefully one day bullying will be a thing of the past.