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Sun Prairie police could fine parents up to $1,000 for their children's bullying under proposal

Posted at 7:42 AM, Mar 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-01 11:47:42-05

Parents in Wisconsin say they want a way to hold other parents accountable if their children are bullies. Sun Prairie city alders are proposing a law change aiming to do just that.

It's something no parent ever wants to go through. And that's exactly what Rogette Koby says she did back in October after finding out her 12-year-old daughter was being bullied by a group of middle school girls.

"It's scary when you find out it's your kid," Koby says. "My first goal was to stop it as quickly as possible."

"At one point they cornered her when she was all by herself and they had a large number of them saying that they were going to basically beat her you-know-what and that could happen anywhere that could happen in a bathroom, that could happen in behind the school."

That's where Sun Prairie alder Maureen Crombie comes in. She's proposing a city-wide anti-bullying ordinance, modeled after a law Monona enacted in 2013.

"It's basically just another tool in the toolbox," Crombie says.

The ordinance prepared by the city administrator covers all types of harassment. That includes bullying that is verbal, physical or even electronic.
"The one thing that people have a concern about is the fact that they are going to be issuing tickets. The tickets could be anywhere from $50 to $1000 it says in the ordinance," Crombie warns.

But parents in support of the proposal acknowledge that it's not necessarily the punishment that's important, but the conversation that comes with it.

"Although it's really scary to be the parent of a bullied child, we were able to stop it quickly. There are other families that aren't so lucky," Koby says. "The school district can't mandate that the parents come to the table but law enforcement can, and when they do that, the parents are mandated to get involved."

A spokesperson says the Sun Prairie Area School District hasn't taken a stance on the ordinance yet, but there are many programs in place to prevent bullying.

The proposal will be brought up in the city's youth and family commission next Thursday.