06 November 2017

Parents of Bullies Will Face Jail Time

Parents of Bullies
Parents in a New York town could now be sentenced to jail time if their children or children under their care are found to have bullied others, thanks to a new law.

Victoria Crago began advocating for the law in North Tonawanda, New York, after she said her eighth-grade son was attacked by a classmate right in front of her.

"This young man just sucker-punched him right in the face and hit him as hard as he could," she told ABC News of the May incident. "What really alarmed me about the situation was the brazen act of violence in front of a parent."

Crago said "It was really traumatic for both of us."

The student accused of attacking Crago's son was charged with third-degree assault. His case was transferred to family court and he is now working with a probation officer, court records show.

The probation officer did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Crago created a Facebook page to call out pervasive bullying in her town. The outrage made public by Crago's Facebook group prompted lawmakers to pass the anti-bullying law that puts pressure on parents.

Parents could be fined US$ 250 and sentenced to 15 days in jail, according to North Tonawanda City Attorney Luke Brown. Parents could face punishment if their child violates the city's curfew or any city law, including bullying, twice over the course of 90 days.

"In reality, what we're looking for is to engage the parents in the process and try and work on a solution," Brown said.

The new law is modeled after a similar push in Wisconsin to hold parents accountable, according to Brown. The law went into effect in North Tonawanda 1 October.

"We hope to never need to use this law but it's there in extreme cases," North Tonawanda City School District Superintendent Greg Woytila said. "But we need to do a better job and we are continually trying to do that."

Nearly 30 percent of students from sixth- to 12th-grade say they have been bullied, according to StopBullying.gov, a bullying prevention and awareness website run by the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services and Justice.

Bullying is most common in middle school, the website reports.