Tell Shawano Schools & Police that Fining Parents is a Step in the Wrong Direction

 

You may have seen the recent story about the plan for parents in Shawano, Wisconsin to be fined if their child displays bullying behavior and the parent doesn't correct the behavior within 90 days. In addition to lots of local coverage, the story has captured national media coverage in television outlets as well as in print, such as in Good HousekeepingUS Weekly, and the Huffington Post.

The fine -- $366 for the first offense and $681 for the second -- is meant to be a deterrent, to get parents more involved, and to increase safety in the schools.  In some of the news coverage, Police Chief Mark Kohl is quoted as saying that the fines are necessary due to the number of school shootings and suicides that have occurred as a result of bullying. He believes the fines will help parents to "work as a team" with the schools and police.

While helping parents work as a team with their children's school is a worthy goal -- and while reducing bullying and risk for suicide in our kids is an admirable priority -- fining parents for expectations their child is having difficulty meeting at school is a step in the wrong direction. Though Chief Kohl has stated that kids' behavior problems at school are "no one's fault," fining parents sends a very different message. Indeed, doing so is likely to make parents feel more blamed and more isolated. Fines are a very counterproductive way to help people collaborate on solving the problems that are causing challenging behavior, including bullying and suicide.

Let's make sure that this town knows where you stand on this issue. Urge Chief of Police Mark Kohl and District Administrator Gary Cumberland to stop punishing parents for having kids with behavioral challenges! 

Use this page to send an email to Mr. Kohl and Mr. Cumberland so that they and their respective staff members can learn better, more humane, and effective ways of working with behaviorally challenging youth and their families.  It'll take less than a minute, but the impact could last a lot longer!

Together we KAAN make a difference!  

Thank you,
Lives in the Balance,
home of the Kids Advocacy Action Network

Please stop fining parents - there is a better way!

Dear Chief Kohl and Mr. Cumberland,

I recently became aware of your new ordinance to fine parents when they have not satisfactorily addressed their child's bullying behavior within 90 days. While helping parents work as a team with their children's school is a worthy goal -- and while reducing bullying and risk for suicide in our kids is an admirable priority -- fining parents for expectations their child is having difficulty meeting at school is a step in the wrong direction. Though Chief Kohl has stated that kids' behavior problems at school are "no one's fault," fining parents sends a very different message. Indeed, doing so is likely to make parents feel more blamed and more isolated. Fines -- like other punitive interventions -- are a very counterproductive way to help people collaborate on solving the problems that are causing challenging behavior, including bullying and suicide.

Your district is not the only one struggling with how to address the problem of bullying. Indeed, many educators and schools have been hard-pressed to handle the wide array of challenging behaviors presented by their students. While many have turned to zero tolerance policies, the research indicates that these policies have made things worse, not better. As a results, many schools have turned instead to interventions that are non-punitive, non-adversarial, collaborative, skill-building, and relationship enhancing, and have seen significant reductions in rates of suspensions, detentions, discipline referrals, and challenging behaviors.

I'm hoping you're both open to familiarizing yourselves with such interventions. Toward that end, I urge you and your staff to check out the vast array of free resources on the website of the non-profit Lives in the Balance (www.livesinthebalance.org). There you'll find a vast array of free resources, including streaming video and audio programming, that will help you and your respective staff reduce bullying and other challenging behaviors, while improving parental engagement and safety.

Thank you for your attention to this very important matter.
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