T Nation

Law to Punish Parents for Their Kids Bullying


#1

Heard about an interesting law in New York on the radio this morning where parents can go to jail if their child (under 18) breaks curfew or other city laws twice in a 90-day period.

I’m not a parent, so interested to hear from people who are. Bullying is a serious issue for kids, especially in around middle school. Is this a step in the right direction to hold parents accountable? if not, what would be a better way to handle kids who continue to bully and break rules?


#2

Please tell me you are kidding. Putting parents IN JAIL for their kids being a shithead is about as far as you can go off the deep end of state fucking with parents rights to raise kids (shitty or not shitty) as they see fit.

This doesn’t even fix bullying! It’s not even “if your kid bullies another kid you go to jail” which is just as heinous but at least superficially addresses the topic of bullying directly. Nope, in this law if your kid is simply out of the home for any reason 2x in 90 days you get fucked.

That’s ludicrous!!

You cannot be serious.


#3

With bullies in many cases coming from unsupportive and potentially abusive households, I can only imagine the type of abuse that will be heaped upon a child that causes their parents financial burden for bullying.

That said, it’s easy for me to sit here and snipe at a “solution” to bullying when I have nothing to offer myself except to say, as a parent, don’t raise a bully. But as far as external solutions go (that are viable), I’m at a loss. The issue gets complex the more you look at it.


#4

More specific info:

Apparently, a handful of kids are a real problem.


#5

One of the things I’ve learned as a parent is that you have to always be willing to do anything you threaten to do. You can’t bluff because your kid will call your bluff. Telling your 3 year old kid you’re going to leave him in the store if he doesn’t get up and walk is a terrible idea because you can’t actually leave him in the store. And he’ll call your bluff and you lose credibility.

This proposed law has all the same problems. Threatening parents to step up in their kids lives seems like a great idea, but going through with the threat will just make a bad situation much worse.

Of course, there are tons of questions of rights and culpability, which also make this a non-starter. It also seems that bullying is a false pretense being used to fuel an agenda that is only tangentially related to bullying.


#6

FWIW, every curfew law I’ve ever run into has a stupid amount of exception. The one around me has a clause for “in the event you’re going to get medication” so you tell them you’re on your way to Walmart to get Advil.

Maybe they’re not all that easy to completely disregard, but the ones in my area are basically stupid tests.


#7

Agreed, and I don’t think it touches on the fact that if the parent goes to jail, what happens to the kid? Especially if it is a single parent, how would that work?

I think this should be the focus, but I don’t know enough about the subject to know what solutions work and what doesn’t. I like that they are wanting parents to be accountable when their kids continue to be a problem but they don’t do anything about it, but sending the parents to jail doesn’t seem to help that situation.

That’s why I brought it up, curious if anybody knows of research in the area or of solutions that have worked in other areas of the country. Certainly this small town isn’t the only place with middle school bullies who are a problem time and time again.


#8

Even worse, if the kid doesn’t like a rule their parent put in place, they can stay out beyond curfew and actually send their parent to jail (theoretically).


#9

After a brief google, it looks as if nobody intends to jail anyone over broken curfews. The “maximum punishment” is $250 and 15 days in jail. The more I read about this though, the more I think it sets a pretty bad precedent.

From Flats article above

But the jail term or the maximum fine are not mandatory.

“The new resolution gives discretion to a judge. They can still have a warning or a small fine,” Pappas said. “It can be applied fairly and still be effective.”

“We’ve never written a ticket,” said Police Chief Walter J. Ostrenga of Monona, Wis. “We wrote about three warning letters, two to parents of two kids in the same family. They eventually moved.”

You have the option of letting your kid be sent to jail in those cases. My parents did it to my youngest sister. Spent a night in jail.


#10

Is that possible with a minor? My understanding is it isn’t.

@FlatsFarmer - thank you for the more detailed article. That helped. It looks like some towns in Wisconsin already has a similar law.


#11

You would think that typical legal channels would be enough. The article states that the law is in reaction to 4 kids that were already kicked out of school.

So now their school record is screwed up. If they keep going it will be juvenile detention and further down the road- jail.

Whats wrong with that?

Personally- Newer younger parents may not know this, but having a 5 year old at 45 gives me 40 years to look back on. The kids I knew that were real problems grew up to be real problems. They never adapted to life with everybody else. By various means they have all been taken out, either dead (virtually all of them) or in prison. So, at least the way I see it, parents are ultimately accountable for their results one way or another. The main thing I’d seen growing up with them was that their parents were utterly incredulous or completely blind to their kids actions, and once enlightened, found a way to rationalize it anyways.


#12

Yeah of course. They aren’t placed with “adult” criminals, so they’re not going to be sitting in a tank with potential adult felons, but it’s the equivalent of a holding cell for kids that may or may not soon end up in juvy.

Seems like this is the very thing they’re trying to prevent. In my experience, the only way a POS parent is going to truly get annoyed with a POS kid is if you’re costing them beer money.


#13

Something I really marvel at, looking back, is how well my parents handled this. Their discipline was always even-handed, reasonable, severe enough that I feared it but never crossed into threats that they wouldn’t carry out. It’s a lesson that I will really try to keep in mind once I have kids.


#14

Not only do people get hurt/bullied during the process, but if they become career criminals there are additional costs to society from their crimes and also holding them in prison.

Ideally the situation could be prevented, and the law intends to get that done by making parents accountable to their kids actions. I have no idea if it that is supported by evidence or not, but am interested to hear other solutions or options to get the bullies on the right path.

After reading the articles it mentioned how the cops could not do anything. That is where I’m taking my understanding from, if you’re saying they could have sent the kids to jail I’m curious why they did not and say they couldn’t. Maybe there is a holding cell as you mention, but that is temporary and they can’t keep them there?


#15

This has more to do with delinquency and kids being a menace than bullying. The state can’t make bad parents be good parents. Throwing bad parents in jail just makes them lose their jobs (if they had one). Then they can’t get hired next time either. Well done. You’ve taken a bad working class parent and made them a permanent ward of the state. That’ll help.

While bullying is a real problem they are going at it from the wrong angle. You need to take the children getting bullied and help them be more resilient and learn that the bullies are just petty, insecure, weak children. Help the child go half and half with a:

  1. Fuck the haters mindset.
  2. Feel empathy for the awful people who are so damaged they need to hurt others to feel better.

Your kid will get bullied at some point. Either in school, or IRL. Might as well teach them how to deal with it. Plus why waste time on the lost children and the bad parents? Put energy into the good kids who will actually grow up to be useful members of society.


#16

The cops couldn’t do anything at the request of the parents whose kid was bullied. That being said, once your own parents decide it time for you to see a jail cell, you’re royally fucked.

The holding cell I’m referencing in my sister’s case is a temporary one. Think of it like a drunk tank for teenagers.

Respectfully, as a kid who was bullied, this is a “solution” that you will never see someone who’s been bullied extensively think is the correct one. There’s no way to teach someone to be alright with getting their ass beat.

This is going to come off like a loaded question, but please don’t take it as such. When we see instances of bullied kids bringing guns to school and literally “dealing” with their bully, do you think this spawns from parents not teaching their kids how to respond to bullies, or from the bullies that bully these kids?

Because if you focus purely on the kids that you deem “good” at younger ages, you increase the

except in the form of the child that will one day become an adult.


#17

Prior to this current technological era I was all on board with this. I got bullied all through school and it made me tough. However, I got bullied before social media was a thing. I’d get bulled for 6-8 hours a day at school, then go home and get a break, recharge and start over.

Kids now get bulled in AND out of school. Even if a parent bans their kid from being on social media, that does nothing from stopping bullies from using social media as a platform to engineer and orchestrate more complex bullying.

It’s become more complex than it used to be.


#18

Theoretical:

I’m walking down the street with my theoretical son, and another theoretical young person engages them physically. I don’t know exactly how old the other kid is, but he’s beating up my son in front of me.

Am I justified in beating the shit out of that other kid?

Could a theoretical mother in this theoretcal situation pepper spray, tase or shoot the other kid?


#19

Legally, to an extent, yes. But minor v non minor you’ve got to be REEEEEEALLY careful. That line you don’t want to cross is razor thin. Catch the wrong judge and you’re toast.

Probably only the latter 2 if he’s using some type of weapon. Pepper spray tbh I have no idea. Probably depends on how it’s classified as a “weapon.”


#20

In most states your use of force is only justified to the point where it stops the threat to you and your kid. So you can’t “beat the shit” out of anyone if you don’t want charged. You could separate them for sure. But then it would be wise to leave the scene and call 911 to file a police report. Usually the first person to call 911 is the victim.

If you have to go “hands on” with someone else’s kid there’s a chance they will call the cops on you. Even if you only grappled the kid or pushed him away. I’d recommend no striking of any kind, definitely not with a closed hand.