Should Parents Of Bullies Be Held Financially Responsible For Their Kids’ Actions?

August 5, 2015  |  


After a New Jersey student faced years of in-school bullying, his parents took the school district to court where on Monday the judge ruled parents of alleged bullies are not financially responsible for their child’s behavior.

The boy’s family sued the Flemington-Raritan and Central Regional School Districts alleging their son had been bullied for years and that even after complaints the schools did not step in enough to prevent the occurrences.

In response, the school districts attempted to hold the parents of 13 alleged bullies responsible for negligence. The schools stated parents have a responsibility for their kids even when they are on school grounds.

The actual lawsuit did not attempt to hold the 13 individual classmates who were bullies responsible. The students were said to have made fun of the boy’s weight, use anti-gay rhetoric, throw food at him and pull down his pants. Superior Court Judge Yolanda Ciccone made it clear that these students could not be brought into the case directly as the schools hoped.

Judge Ciccone stated parental negligence must be proven and not presumed due to the students’ actions in school. However, she did rule that the school districts could draft claims against five of the students themselves. When the same boy from the original case was in middle school, three of the students were accused of assault and battery and the other two battery. If found guilty, those parents would be forced to pay due to the actions of their children.

While we often consider the way children act to be a reflection of their parenting, it seems as though some guidelines should be in place before schools are able to bring claims against parents, such as a list of formal steps that must be taken by the school, including informing the parents of what’s going on. If parents are unaware of what’s happening with their children at school, how can they be held responsible?

If my child came home with bruises and was in need of medical attention the bill would first fall to the school who should be overseeing all activity and breaking up incidents. Schools can place children in separate classes and take multiple action steps to fight bullying. And no, parents aren’t off of the hook; there must be a team effort. If both parties aren’t present to work out the problems then I understand making the parents pay for their children’s behavior. What do you think?

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