Here’s a warning to all the bullies: Your parents could go to jail because of you.
In a bid to make parents more engaged in dealing with their children outside the home, a New York town passed a law that could send parents to jail if their children bully others.
The measure was passed in North Tonawanda, New York after pressure gained from the support of Victoria Crago’s case.
In May, Crago’s eighth grade son was ‘attacked’ by a classmate right in front of her.
“This young man just sucker-punched him right in the face and hit him as hard as he could,” she told ABC News of the May incident. “What really alarmed me about the situation was the brazen act of violence in front of a parent.”
“It was really traumatic for both of us,” Crago added.
The student accused of attacking Crago’s son and has since been charged with third-degree assault, and his case was transferred to family court and he is now working with a probation officer, according to ABC News and based on court records.
After the incident, Crago created a Facebook page to call out pervasive bullying in her town.
The outrage made public by Crago’s Facebook group prompted lawmakers to pass the anti-bullying law that puts pressure on parents.
Parents could be fined $250 and sentenced to 15 days in jail if their child violates the city’s curfew or any city law, including bullying, twice over the course of 90 days.
“In reality, what we’re looking for is to engage the parents in the process and try and work on a solution,” said North Tonawanda City Attorney Luke Brown.
The new law is modeled after a similar push in Wisconsin to hold parents accountable, according to Brown.
“We hope to never need to use this law but it’s there in extreme cases,” North Tonawanda City School District Superintendent Greg Woytila said. “But we need to do a better job and we are continually trying to do that.”
Nearly 30 percent of students from sixth- to 12th-grade say they have been bullied, according to StopBullying.gov, a bullying prevention and awareness website run by the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services and Justice.
Bullying is most common in middle school, the website reports.
As with any measure, the law has received some backlash from parents who claim it goes too far.
Crago hopes the new law sends a clear message to parents that they will pay the price for their kids’ behavior.
“Watching your child harmed in front of you is a terrible thing,” she said. “I don’t wish it on anyone.”