New law punishes parents for their child’s bad behavior

New law punishes parents for their child’s bad behavior

One New York town has taken a bold step in an attempt to prevent bullying.

The city of North Tonawanda enforced a new anti-bullying law that says parents can face jail time and a $250 fine if their child violates any law, which includes bullying, twice in a 90-day period.

Police Captain Thomas Krantz explained the new law is intended for a specific group of parents. “It’s for the parents…who don’t have the wherewithal to do what they need to do to get their kids in line,” Capt. Krantz said in an ABC article. “The ones who say, ‘It’s not my problem.’”

Dr. Danielle Baran, a clinical psychologist at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., adds that the goal of this law is likely to garner parents’ support in stopping aggressive and harmful behavior among children and not necessarily to jail them.

While most towns don’t have an anti-bullying law, it’s critical for parents to hold their child accountable for their actions and help them learn that bullying is unacceptable.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies the following factors associated with a higher likelihood of engaging in bullying behavior:

  • Externalizing problems, such as defiant and disruptive behavior
  • Harsh parenting by caregivers
  • Attitudes accepting of violence

So what steps can you take if you find out your child is the bully?

First, Dr. Baran suggests parents consider contacting their child’s school proactively if another parent approaches them about their child’s bullying or they witness it occurring themselves.

“Home-school partnerships can go a long way to providing children and their family with the support they need for creating and maintaining healthy social relationships. Children who feel like they are connected to the larger school community can act in more prosocial ways, and school teams can do a lot to foster a sense of school belonging.”

Dr. Baran also advises parents get their child involved in a group activity where kids have to work out problems and negotiate with some oversight by adults who can also model appropriate social interactions. “Some children may need more direct support for acting in a prosocial way, and for those children, social skill groups can be helpful,” she says.

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  1. Seriously? You *support* a law like this? Who cares what the “intention” of the law is? You know it can and will be used to *actually* jail parents for things that are beyond their control. This is sick, as is your support of it.

  2. So this law is intended for parents who “don’t have the wherewithal to do what they need to do to get their kids in line,” “the ones who say, ‘It’s not my problem.’” That’s like throwing out a net in the sea to catch one type of fish and bringing in a whole variety that end up on the floor of the boat too. I speak from experience when I say that sometimes no matter how lovingly and carefully a child is raised, no matter how much effort is made to teach the right things, get the right help, monitor and involve oneself in a child’s life, the sad fact is that parents are not with their children 24/7 and children will still make wrong choices and cause untold pain & suffering to their parents. But hey, let’s put the icing on the cake and put those parents in jail too. Please explain how that is supposed to stop a child from bullying.

  3. I find this to be a “think outside of the box” approach to controlling bullying. While not a perfect system, it’s great to read about novel system-level approaches to correct these types of behaviors.

    However, this may target certain demographics like lower income working families who don’t have the luxury of time and families with complex social dynamics.

    I hope that these are looked at on a case-by-case basis.

    And to respond to the comments of the ladies above, your voices sadly reflect a culture of distaste for progress. Instead of sarcastic responses, it’s good to embrace the positive intentions as a way of moving forward instead of maintaining that the status quo is the best we have and that nothing will ever change.

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About the Author

Julie Nakis
Julie Nakis

Julie Nakis, health enews contributor, is manager of public affairs at Advocate Children's Hospital. She earned her BA in communications from the University of Iowa – Go Hawkeyes! In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, exploring the city and cheering on the Chicago Cubs and Blackhawks.