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Racine proposed ordinance could fine parents up to $1,000 if child is caught bullying

RACINE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Parents may be paying a big price if their kids bully other students in Racine -- up to $1,000.

An ordinance is one step away from making bullying a punishable offense in Racine. It will go before the aldermen for a vote on Tuesday.

"It's forcing us into a situation where parents and kids are going to have to be talking about this," said Alderman Jason Meekma, district 14.

He and Alderwoman Tracey Larrin began work on the ordinance over a year ago when a local police sergeant brought up his wishes for an anti-bullying ordinance.

"Now you don't have to be the biggest kid on the playground to be the bully," said Meekma.

The ordinance addresses how bullying has moved beyond the schoolyard. It has a clause that specifically addresses online and social media bullying, a clause that includes punishment for adults being bullied, and a clause that extends liability to parents if their child is being a bully.

"So the child and parent can get fined, and they will have to go to court, talk to the judge," said Alderwoman Larrin.

The City of Monona, near Madison, made national headlines when they became the first in the nation to make parents liable for bullying. Their ordinance has been in place for 5 years now.

"Currently we still have not issued a single citation under this ordinance," said Detective Sgt. Ryan Losby.

Det. Sgt. Losby helped write the ordinance and says while they haven't fined anyone, they have used the ordinance. They've sent out 3 warning letters to parents.

"Those were effective, after those letters were issued, there was no more bullying by their child," said Det. Sgt. Losby.

Det. Sgt. Losby says if parents work with schools and police to actively try to fix the problem, they won't be cited.

Alderpersons Meekma and Larrin say whether to ticket will also be up to the discretion of the officer in Racine.

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