Wisconsin bullying ordinances gain international attention

Anti-bullying ordinances adopted by several Wisconsin communities are generating global buzz. The ordinances fine parents whose children repeatedly bully classmates.

Since enacting such laws, police chiefs in Shawano, Plover and Monona have fielded calls from news organizations from other states, as well as Canada and Australia. They've also received thank-you emails from victims who still struggle with the effects of bullying.

The latest town in the state to pass an ordinance holding parents of bullies accountable is Shawano, a town of 9,300 people about 40 miles northwest of Green Bay. Under a measure passed in May, parents of bullies could be fined $366 for the first offense and $681 for the second offense in a year.

The Plover Village Board approved an anti-bullying ordinance last November. That ordinance gives police the ability to notify parents in writing if their child is caught bullying and to ticket the parents if their child is caught bullying again within 90 days

In May 2013, the Monona City Council was the first to pass such a law. City officials told the Wisconsin State Journal at the time that no specific incident led to the decision. Instead, it was the refusal of parents to hold their children accountable, or even to believe that their kids could be guilty.

“Sometimes you’ll knock on someone’s door and they won’t want to talk to you — their kids are perfect, they could never do anything wrong,” Monona Police Chief Wally Ostrenga tol the Journal. “This is for those times when we get the door slammed in our faces.”

In Monona, parents have to pay a $144 fine for a first violation. If parents have subsequent violations in the same year, they’re fined $177 for each additional one.

Plover's police chief says he would love to see other cities in the state and country adopt similar ordinances.

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