After adding language to emphasize restorative justice, leaders in Sun Prairie last week added their city to at least three others in Wisconsin that seek to deter bullying by threatening bullies’ parents with tickets.
The ordinance passed the Sun Prairie City Council by a vote of 5 to 4, with Mayor Paul Esser breaking a tie, on Sept. 3. It allows police to issue warning letters to parents of children who engage in conduct that is prohibited by existing statutes against disorderly conduct, harassment or unlawful use of a telephone or computer and “is likely to create an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment, and which serves no legitimate purpose.”
Parents who fail to stop their children’s bullying after getting a warning letter risk a $187 ticket, but the fine could be stayed if the parent, child or both participate in a restorative justice process, according to the ordinance.
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Youth who violate the ordinance and fail to complete a restorative justice program face the possibility of $98.80 ticket.
Monona, Shawano and Plover have bullying ordinances similar to Sun Prairie’s, and a handful of other communities have considered them. Monona has issued warnings under its ordinance, but never a ticket, according to police chief Walter Ostrenga.