Should Parents be Punished When Their Kids Bully Others?

A town in New York made headlines for passing a law that holds parents accountable for their kids' behavior—including jail time.
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Early this year, a group of kids in North Tonawanda, New York, were involved in an act of juvenile violence. Later, an eight-grade boy was attacked outside a store in town—and that led the town to enact an unusual law, according to The Buffalo News.

After the incident was taken care of in family court, the victim's father joined other local parents to start the North Tonawanda Coalition for Safe Schools and Streets—and last week, the council passed a law they hope will reduce such incidents. Under this, parents can be punished for their children's actions: Parents of kids who bully others, stay out past the city's curfew, or host unlawful parties take the legal brunt of these actions, and parents can even serve jail time under the law.

It may seem unorthodox—or even unfair—but is implementing a law like this the best way to keep kids safe? Since no parent can control every single thing his or her kids do, is it fair to make them legally responsible? 

For the people of North Tonawanda, it appears this law stemmed from a mounting issue among local teens—and the fact that minors can't always be punished for their actions. The penalties for parents aren't particularly severe: Though jail time may be mandated, the sentence can only be up to 15 days, and a $250 fine is the maximum monetary penalty.

Controversial as it may seem, North Tonawanda isn't the first place to see such a law. Four towns in Wisconsin implemented a law holding parents legally accountable if their kids bully others. There have reportedly been no arrests made at this point.

"I'm all for it," North Tonawanda school superintendent Greg Woytila told The Buffalo News. "When you've got 3,000-plus students and two or three are out of control, that's too many. One's too many. Sometimes the police officers are the only ones trying. The families have given up."​

What do you think of this law? Do you think parents should be charged for their kids' actions? Most importantly, do you think a move like this will ultimately reduce the frequency of bullying and make this world a safer place for our kids?

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