SHARPSBURG (KDKA) — Stopping bullying by putting the onus on parents is an approach that’s working well in the Borough of Brentwood. Now, the Borough of Sharpsburg may take a page out of Brentwood’s playbook.
The sign at a Sharpsburg park clearly reads that there is to be no offensive language or threats, but should there be stricter consequences if someone disobeys?
“The third leading cause of death among children under 18 is suicide, and a lot of that can be attributed to bullying,” said Sharpsburg Mayor Matthew Rudzki.
The Mayor sees how well an anti-bullying ordinance is working in Brentwood. It holds parents accountable if their children are bullying other kids. First, the parent is given a written warning and then they are fined up to $600.00 if their child won’t stop the bullying.
“Generally, the Magistrate in Brentwood continues the cases for 90 days, issues a no contact order and orders counseling for the student,” said Mayor Rudzki.
“My primary goal in introducing the ordinance is to raise awareness about the impacts of bullying and finding meaningful ways to address it. We want to send a message of hope to children that we’re listening and they don’t have to fear being bullied.”
The mayor thinks the law’s potential stiff penalty of up to 30 days in jail if the fine isn’t paid would have the same deterring effect in Sharpsburg. “So really it’s being used as a way, not for a punitive measure, but to get counseling for the student, to make parents aware, and try to prevent bullying from happening in the future,” said Mayor Rudzki.
Some residents think holding the parent responsible for their child’s actions isn’t the answer.
“I strongly disagree with this proposal. I think that the parents shouldn’t be fined but the kids should be disciplined instead, because they are the ones that are doing these actions,” said Charlene Meskel. “I don’t think the monetary fine or jail time is going to benefit either party, whether it’s the kids getting bullied or the bullying kids,” said Patricia White.
The proposed ordinance will go before Sharpsburg Borough Council on January 25, 2018. Comments from residents are welcomed.
“It’s really a law that’s not needed right now,” said White.
“We want people to know we are listening and we do care,” said Mayor Rudzki.