Illustration by R.J. Matson; Debate photos courtesy of families

Should The Parents of Bullies Be Punished?

In Plover, Wisconsin, kids who bully others aren’t the only ones who might get in trouble. Their parents may also have to face consequences. Since 2015, officials in Plover have sent warning notices to parents whose kids are caught bullying. If the bullying doesn’t stop, the parents could have to pay a $124 fine. 

Many people argue that punishing parents is the wrong way to deal with bullying. They point out that parents can’t be expected to monitor their kids’ behavior at all times. 

Dan Ault is the head of the local government in Plover. He explains that handing out fines isn’t the goal of the law. It’s to prevent bullying from happening in the first place. 

“Asking parents to be more informed and involved in their child’s life is not unreasonable,” Ault says.

Ault adds that if the law protects even one student from being bullied, he considers it a success.

Here’s what two of our readers think.

Parents should be held responsible when their kids bully others. Kids might pick up bad behavior from TV shows, video games, or other kids. It’s up to their parents to teach them the right way to act toward others.  

My brother had a bully in his class. His parents never punished him, so his behavior didn’t improve. If parents knew they could get in trouble, they would be more likely to teach their child to be kind to others. 

Parents shouldn’t be punished if their children are bullies. Parents can’t control everything their child does. It’s important for parents to teach their kids to treat others with kindness. But no one should be punished for something they didn’t do. 

What would punishing parents do to stop their child from behaving badly in the future? Bullies won’t learn their lesson unless they get punished themselves for mistreating others.

What does your class think?

Should the parents of bullies be punished?

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