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New Jersey Law Would Increase Fines for Parents of Bullies

"The culture of bullying requires a multi-faceted approach that involves students, parents, teachers, and school administrators."

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Lawmakers in New Jersey want to introduce harsher penalties for parents of bullies. On Monday this week, a new bill was introduced that could hold parents civilly liable as well as increasing fees for missing mandated anti-bullying training. The proposed law is called “Mallory’s Law” after 12-year-old Mallory Grossman, who was led to commit suicide in 2017 following incessant bullying.

“Mallory’s Law” wants to hold parents and guardians civilly liable if they show deliberate disregard in supervising a minor under 16 who’s been found guilty of bullying. Fees for missing court-ordered training would also increase; currently, a first offense is fined $25, then $100 for future offenses. The new law would raise a first offense to $100, with a $500 fee for all other incidences.

The proposal would also seek to improve the bullying reporting process as well as requiring that school superintendents and parents of students involved in a bullying incident be notified if there is a third offense.

“School bullying is killing our children,” reads a statement by state Senator Joe Pennacchio, R-Morris, one of the bill’s main sponsors. “Bullying is preventable and addressable, so we shouldn’t have to just tolerate or accept it. ‘Mallory’s Law’ is recognition that stopping the culture of bullying requires a multi-faceted approach that involves students, parents, teachers, and school administrators.”

This isn’t the first legislature to involve parents in the bullying epidemic. In 2017, a law was enacted in North Tonawanda, New York made it possible for parents of bullies to face jail time as well as hefty fines. It makes sense that parents should be held responsible in certain situations, but many are skeptical of these such laws being enforced. The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) has previously raised several concerns about overstepping the nanny state, as well as the burden it might impose on working and/or single parents.