WHITE HAVEN -- A new law in a western New York community could send parents to jail if their children are found bullying others, and it is getting a lot of attention.
A woman from North Tonawanda, New York witnessed her son get bullied. She watched him get punched in the face by a classmate. She created a Facebook page that became the first step in getting the law passed for her city, and on October 1, it went into effect.
"Making them accountable will make it so they're not, 'Well, it's not my child.' Yes, it is your child. So now, you either have to do something about it or face a consequence," Jennifer Evans, a mother of three and resident of White Haven said.
The law says that parents could be fined $250 and/or sentenced to 15 days in jail.
"15 days? To me that's a bit surprising," Evans said.
"I'm not really sure how I feel about it. One of the biggest things is we are taking accountability away from the kids. If the kid is going to bully someone, the kid should be accountable for his actions," said White Haven Chief of Police Thomas Szoke.
Evans wonders if a law like that would work in a community like White Haven. All three of her children are cyber-schooled.
"They don't go to school and have those social issues, like the kids who go to public schools. We removed our kids from that so they could just learn and be educated," she said.
The website StopBullying.gov says that 30 percent of students are bullied in grades 6-12, and it is most common in middle schools. Parents in White Haven say it is not just a problem in big cities, but small towns too.
"We need to make sure the penalties are there so that the kid knows not to punch the other kid in the face. We need to enforce the law that we have," Chief Szoke said.
The attorney for that city in western New York says the purpose of the law is to engage parents in the process and try to work on a solution. Evans likes the idea because bullying is one of the reasons her kids are cyber-schooled.
"I think making them more aware that it's happening and letting them self-reflect on their family life and what could possibly be causing their child to bully will only bake a stronger bond with those children and their parents," Evans said.
According to that new law, parents could face the fine and/or jail time if their child violates the city's curfew or breaks any other city law, including bullying, twice in the course of 90 days.