Parents of children who pick on others could end up paying a steep price -- literally.
The town council in Shawano, Wisconsin, passed a city ordinance that will allow police to fine parents if they are notified their child is bullying others and they don't do anything to stop it, reports WGBA.
According to Shawano Police Chief Mark Kohl, he and fellow officers will work with the local school district to inform parents if their children are bullies. If the parents do not step in and their child does not stop picking on others, they will be slapped with a $366 fine.
If it happens again within a year, they will have to pay $681.
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Kohl said most parents of bullies are not aware of their children's aggressive behavior.
"It creates an avenue for us to work with parents to help find solutions," Kohl said.
The ordinance is intended to encourage parents to learn more about what is going on with their children and to direct them not to tolerate bullying behavior, which Kohl said can have detrimental effects on other kids.
"[Bullying] can lead to other things [like] drug use ... and unfortunately suicide," he said.
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The officer said that there are no "initial complaints or concerns out there" sparking the new law but that his department is simply "being proactive working with the community to address this."
The ordinance has gotten a mixed reaction from parents.
"I really believe that parents should discipline their kids in the right way and I think that's a good idea," parent Evelyn Roth said.
While most parents agreed that children need to be kind to each other, and parents should not tolerate bullying, others questioned why local police needed to generate money at the expense of parents.
"I think if the parents know that their kid is bullying, there should be actions done, but I don't know if they should get fined for it," Natasha Clark said.
The ordinance applies to both physical and cyberbullying among minors.
If your child is bullying others, KidsHealth recommends punishing your child and teaching him or her appropriate reactions to anger, such as walking away, and finding out what deeper issues, pressures and frustrations that might be causing it and working to address them.