JayMac: Fining the parent won’t stop school bullying (and might make things worse)

Jun 11, 2019, 9:07 AM | Updated: Dec 30, 2022, 11:27 am

Ohio girl punished for bullying on the bus...

An Ohio father forced his daughter to walk to school after she was suspended from the bus for bullying. (Matt Cox / Facebook)

(Matt Cox / Facebook)

DISCLAIMER: the following is an opinion piece and does not necessarily reflect the views of KSL Newsradio or its ownership.

Can fining parents stop their kids from bullying other students? Here are some examples:

Parents of children found bullying other minors could face jail time under a new law approved in North Tonawanda, just north of Buffalo, N.Y.

Members of the North Tonawanda Common Council hope the new law stops bullying by holding parents accountable for their children’s actions.

Parents could be fined $250 and sentenced to 15 days in jail if twice in a 90-day period their child under 18 violates the city’s curfew or another city law, including bullying.

Could this work? I have my doubts. Here’s another example:

Maryland lawmakers are considering legislation that would fine some parents $1,000 for a misbehaving school-aged child.

An assault on a Loch Raven High School (Baltimore County) teacher by a student is adding urgency to pass legislation holding parents more accountable for their child’s behavior.

The bill that would fine a parent or guardian of a child $1,000 who gets into trouble at school four times.

And again:

A lawmaker from Pennsylvania says he wants to crack down on bullying by punishing parents for their child’s bad behavior.

State Rep. Frank Burns plans legislation that would require parents to pay up to $750 if their child is a habitual bully and require school officials to notify parents each time their child bullies another student.

Bullying is a big problem

A 2011 survey of more than 24 million children ages 12 to 18 found that nearly 28 percent of students — or about 6.8 million kids — reported being bullied, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

I was bullied for showing off too much at San Miguel Elementary School in San Jose, Calif. I remember the full name of the bully who started punching and kicking me for jumping farther off the swing than anybody else on the playground. I remember the full name of another bully who just started hitting and kicking me.

I grew up in a tough neighborhood. But I never told anyone, parents or teachers or principals. To this day, I still wonder why I never said anything about it.

But what seems like the perfect solution, fining the parents for their bully-child, may actually make the problem worse.

What causes bullying?

I did some research and found that most bullies have parents who bully them. But now Dad is fined because his kid is a school bully. Facing a fine, does he magically become the Good Parent? Does he check himself into counseling?  Not likely. More likely is that junior gets beaten even more for subjecting Dad to a fine. Maybe the parent takes the matter into her own hands.

For example:

Frustrated by what she believed was bullying of her third-grade son, Jamie Rathburn entered Greenbrier Elementary School in South Carolina and emotionally confronted his classmates.

She left the scene but was arrested three days later, charged with disturbing schools and booked into a detention center before being released on bond, according to police.

Rathburn regrets her actions but remains concerned about bullying of her son and other children, she said.

I wanted to do that. Do we want to say: We DID something or we CHANGED something, like creating a new policy or program that stopped the bullying atmosphere at school?

Bullying is just a symptom

Bullying is a symptom of a much bigger problem. Bullies also can suffer from autism, anger-management problems, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  Perhaps the bully-child, who is probably a victim himself, needs some level of understanding and recognition of what created the bullying inside him or her. How does fining the parent solve this problem? Maybe the parents need counseling.

Also, some parenting styles or early trauma, which can impair social and mental development, can contribute to creating the school bully. How about reaching out and asking the bully?

Oh, what a fool I was

I have my own example of trying to hold a child accountable for unacceptable school behavior. My child was cutting class and struggling in high school. I thought, “I can handle this, I’m the parent.”

I’m yelling and punishing him, trying everything in the parental resource manual, but the result was major drag-out battles: Our only interaction with this kid.

We tried bribery, but nothing worked, so we took this child to a counselor, who, after a lot of study, discovered he had a heightened sensitivity to bright lights and loud noises.

How am I going to punish or yell him out of that? High school is saturated with loud noises and bright lights.

This discovery was a miracle. So, no longer was I the enforcer, but a helper, a coach, an adviser. This set me free to find more sympathetic solutions. And now our relationship is a treasure.

Jay Mcfarland hosts the JayMac News Show, weekdays from 12:30 to 3 p.m. on KSL Newsradio, as well as the fictional podcast, Hosts of Eden. KSL Newsradio is part of Bonneville Media and based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Crime, Police + Courts

FILE: An arson investigation is underway after several suspicious fires in Salt Lake City on Tuesda...

Britt Johnson

Salt Lake City Fire conduct arson investigation Tuesday morning

An arson investigation is underway after several suspicious fires in Salt Lake City on Tuesday.

8 hours ago

Brenda Dye, the Fremont County coroner, testified Wednesday about the reasons why she changed Tammy...

Emily Ashcraft,

Coroner describes changing Tammy Daybell’s cause of death to homicide

Fremont County Coroner Brenda Dye changed Tammy Daybell's cause of death to homicide after participating in her autopsy.

12 hours ago

The U.S Supreme Court is photographed on Friday, Jan. 5, 2024, in Washington. The Supreme Court is ...


Supreme Court will consider when doctors can provide emergency abortions in states with bans

The Supreme Court has allowed the Idaho law to go into effect, even during emergencies, as the case played out.

20 hours ago

One of two controlled detonations of old dynamite is seen in Holladay on April 24, 2024. (KSL TV)...


Crews detonate ‘ancient dynamite’ found in Holladay home

HOLLADAY, Utah — Early Wednesday morning, the Unified Fire Authority Bomb Squad detonated ‘ancient dynamite’ that had been found in a Holladay home. A resident found the explosives in a house near 6200 South and 2300 East and reported the find on Tuesday evening.  According to Unified Fire Authority Assistant Chief Riley Pilgrim, the homeowner […]

20 hours ago

Exterior image of the Ada County courthouse in Boise, Idaho, Monday April 3, 2023. As Chad Daybell'...

Emily Ashcraft,

Ex-husband of Lori Daybell’s niece testifies about an attempt to kill him, identifying JJ’s body

Brandon Boudreaux noticed something was off when he turned onto his street in Gilbert, Arizona, on Oct. 2, 2019.

1 day ago

FBI agent Douglas Hart, right, testifies Monday about texts between Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Da...


‘Angels are angry’: FBI agent describes ‘manipulating’ texts between Lori and Chad Daybell

Testimonies from key people in Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell's life took the stand on Monday, who talked about strange messages from the couple.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

JayMac: Fining the parent won’t stop school bullying (and might make things worse)