Punishing parents for bully’s behavior: Pa. lawmakers want accountability

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(WYTV) – A Pennsylvania lawmaker is taking the fight against bullying to the legislative floor. He wants to hold bullies — and their parents — accountable.

“Bullying is a major issue. It’s happening throughout our country,” Rep. Chris Sainato said.

Rep. Frank Burns introduced the bill, which creates a three-strike system for a bully’s parents:

  • Strike one: The school informs the student’s parents how it handled the bullying situation
  • Strike two: Parents take a class on bullying and attend a conference
  • Strike three: Parents are fined up to $500

Sainato is all for it.

“It brings the parents, the student and the school together,” he said. “They’re actually sitting down and coming up with a plan to say, ‘Hey, this is wrong, don’t do this.'”

Jennifer Kelley, of Mercer County, doesn’t see that teamwork in the bill. The mother of two says the bill targets parents for an issue they’re not fully responsible for.

“I mean, if you’re going to fine the parents, why aren’t you fining the schools for not helping?” she asked.

Kelley said it does take a village to raise a child, after all.

“Why is it just the parents getting fined?”

But J.R. Sanford, a Pennsylvania father of two, doesn’t see it that way.

“Bullying starts at the house with parents,” Sanford said. “Parents should be held accountable for the actions of their kids.”

Whether you believe parents are responsible for their child’s bullying or not, Sainato says there’s a greater purpose for this bill.

“When you look at school bullying, you look at the kid who brought the knife into Pittsburgh and stabbed 15 people last year, he claims he was bullied. You look at some of the scenarios, that word usually comes in.”

Sainato hopes attacking the bullying problem could potentially save lives.

“To be able to try to do something, that may be able to prevent a tragedy from happening…that, I think, is the most important part of this,” he said.