A town in upstate New York has passed an anti-bullying law that could put parents in jail if their children break laws or bully other children.
The law went into effect Oct. 1 in North Tonawana, New York. Parents can now be fined $250 and be sentenced to up to two weeks in jail if their child is caught violating city curfew and breaking other city laws, in addition to bullying.
Youth under 16 years of age must now be inside their homes by 11 p.m. on weekdays or midnight on weekends unless they are with a guardian, or have a legitimate reason to be out late (sports teams, work).
Changes to the law include new language defining penalties for house parties and parents/guardians who have underage children drinking at those events.
In addition, the changes makes it unlawful for "any person" to bully or harass a person, or "induce another person to engage in such bullying or harassment."
The North Tonawanda City Attorney's Office and police are looking at a proposal to expand the definition of bullying to include "cyberbullying."
The Associated Press says the law was passed after four teens were kicked out of North Tonawada Middle School for bullying. In addition, ABC News reports one local parent started a grassroots movement after her child allegedly experienced bullying, which led to the law being passed.
According to ABC News, the law is modeled after a similar law passed in Wisconsin. According to Business Insider, that the city of Shwano, Wisconsin only fines parents but does not subject them to jail time for their parents’ actions.
Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.