A Pennsylvania lawmaker has introduced legislation that could have parents footing the bill if their child bullies another kid at school.
State Rep. Frank Burns’ bill gives parents three strikes. The first time a child bullies someone, the school is required to inform his or her parents how the school handled the situation.
Parents would have to take a class on bullying and attend a bullying resolution conference the second time. The third time, parents would receive a court citation and pay up to a $500 fine and/or be mandated to complete community service.
The Democratic lawmaker from Cambria County says bullying can lead to physical assaults and suicide and he believes holding parents and officials accountable will make a difference.
“Bullying is underreported and often unaddressed in any meaningful way,” Rep. Burns said in a statement. “When it’s not addressed, bullying can escalate quickly from taunts and hurtful online posts to physical assaults and—in worst cases—suicide. Holding students, parents and officials at all levels accountable is the only way to put an end to this scourge.”
The other two bills in Burns’ comprehensive approach would require the Department of Education to establish an anonymous reporting system for bullying, and would provide for accurate, real-time data on bullying by requiring schools to track and report incidents to the department’s Office of Safe Schools.
“If holding parents accountable is what it takes to reel in their kids’ bad behavior, then let’s do it,” Burns said. “With the advent of cyberbullying making this problem even more pervasive, we can’t afford to sit back and do nothing. No student should ever have to go to school in fear or shame.”