I’m proud of our ongoing partnership with the South Milwaukee School District, especially when it helps with the safety and welfare of our students.
The latest example: an anti-bullying ordinance which gained initial passage by the South Milwaukee Common Council on Tuesday, which includes penalties for children and their parents involved in persistent bullying, hazing or harassment.
It’s an innovative approach to a complex problem without easy solutions. And while this ordinance in and of itself won’t solve the problem, we, after conversations with the school district, think it will help.
You can see the ordinance here. It includes fines of up to $439 for children or parents who “engage in bullying, hazing or harassment of a person; induce another person to engage in bullying, hazing or harassment; or retaliate against any person who reports any conduct prohibited by this section.”
As for bullying, it is defined (by both us and the schools) as …
A form of harassment defined as an intentional course of conduct which, through verbal acts, physical acts, messages or any other form of communication, is reasonably likely to intimidate, emotionally abuse, slander or threaten another person and serves no legitimate purpose. Bullying also means systematically or persistently inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress on one or more students. It is intentional written, spoken, nonverbal or physical behavior, including but not limited to any threatening, insulting, or dehumanizing gesture or communication, including the spreading of rumors, that has the effect of doing any of the following: substantially interfering with any student’s education, creating a threatening or fearful environment in a school setting for any student or group of students, or substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the school. Bullying also includes the use of digital technologies, including but not limited to email, cell phones, text messages, instant messages, chat rooms and social websites.
And the preamble includes more details as to why this is so important …
WHEREAS, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than one fifth of students in the United States grades 6-12 experience bullying;
WHEREAS, the Common Council of the City of South Milwaukee has determined that bullying and harassment disrupt the safe environment in the City; interfere with one’s ability to succeed or excel in a safe environment in the City; and interfere with one’s ability to participate in or benefit from the programs, activities, worksites and opportunities offered in this community;
WHEREAS, the Common Council of the City of South Milwaukee further finds that it is in the interest of the People of the City of South Milwaukee to take steps to encourage the idea that every person is valued and respected regardless of perceived or actual differences and that every person should enjoy life free from bullying, harassment and intimidation.
WHEREAS, The City has collaborated with the South Milwaukee School District to draft this ordinance and believes that it is necessary to protect the health and safety and general welfare of the Citizens of this community, and it is necessary that the regulations herein provided be enacted …
The idea for the ordinance came from School Resource Officer JJ McLean. Thanks, officer, for bringing this forward, and for Chief Jessup, City Attorney Smith and school leaders for being part of the solution.