We are all aware of the problem that poses a threat in schools around the nation, the bullying of children. Teasing, name-calling, leaving kids out on purpose, attacking them verbally and physically and even electronically through texts, email and social media. This bullying can leave its victims feeling different, powerless, unpopular, alone and desperate. These victims tend to have a hard time standing up for themselves and often have problems with and in school. They feel sad, nervous and lonely and start to bully kids that are weaker than they are. Bullying is never ok. Those who bully use power to hurt people. Power does not always mean bigger or stronger. Power can also mean popular or smart. Or, the kid doing the bullying may know a secret about the kid being bullied. Kids who bully can develop problems when they get older, like using alcohol and drugs, getting into fights, and dropping out of school.
Bullies are made, not born, and it happens at an early age if the normal aggression of 2-year-olds isn’t handled well. Bullies couldn’t exist without victims, and they don’t pick on just anyone; those singled out lack assertiveness and radiate fear long before they ever encounter a bully. No one likes a bully, but no one likes a victim either. Grown-up bullies wreak havoc in their relationships and in the workplace. Children are growing up without the experiences needed in the development of social skills necessary to function in our society. So the question becomes, what can we as a society do to curb this increasing trend within our society? How can we really put a stop to these bullies? Follow our kids around at school all day? Fight all their fights for them? The answer, of course, is no, but one small New York town just might have a solution that shows some promise.
North Tonawanda, New York is a small town located just north of Buffalo. On the 1st of October, the North Townwood Common Council proposed a new law that now is in effect. Parents of children found bullying other minors could face jail time under the newly approved law. If a child is caught bullying or attacking another student, their parent(s) will pay the fine or do the time, according to the unanimously passed law. The parent(s) could spend up to 15 days in jail, pay a fine of $250 or both if twice in a 90-day period their child violates the city’s curfew or any other city law, including bullying. The North Tonawanda Common Council hopes the new law will help end bullying by holding parents accountable for their children’s actions.
Victoria Crago is a resident of North Tonawanda whose son was attacked by classmates in June of 2017, and even though the attack happened away from school grounds, the attack led Crago and other parents to start a facebook group called ‘North Tonawanda Coalition for Safe Schools and Streets.‘ Crago and the other parents involved hope that this new law will prevent any other children from getting hurt. The Mayor of North Tonawanda, Art Pappas was quoted as stating “We want the message out there that we’re serious about this. We don’t want anyone to be afraid to be in our city, or walk the streets or go to school.”
The bottom line is that the citizens of North Tonawanda are now making the parents of these bullies accountable for what they are or are not teaching their children at home. Children are smart and have figured out that they can get away with bullying. This is why you see children that are repeat offenders and these kids will often carry their bully mentality all the way into adulthood.
Will this new law put an end to the bullying problem? Is it the answer to a nationwide problem? Probably not, but the new law will give a lot of parents an incentive to get involved, ask questions and possibly for the first time have a discussion with their children about bullying.
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