Sharpsburg parents to be held accountable if child bullies
Sharpsburg council has approved an anti-bullying ordinance that holds parents accountable for the actions of their children.
Sharpsburg is the second Allegheny County municipality to approve such an ordinance. Brentwood passed a similar bullying ordinance in 2014.
Parents will be fined $250 for first-time citations, and if they don't pay, they will be ordered to perform community service, officials said.
“We need to stop bullying, and it's going to start here at the local level,” Sharpsburg police Officer Brian Hoebel said.
Hoebel told council that the ordinance gives him and the other five full-time officers the opportunity to tackle the issue from a different angle.
“I'm looking at this as another tool in my tool box, very similar to what I wear on my belt,” Hoebel said. “Its another virtual tool you could say.”
The ordinance does not apply to bullying in Fox Chapel Area schools, even if an incident involves Sharpsburg students.
Bullying is defined in the ordinance as a form of harassment and an intentional deed intended to intimidate, abuse, defame or threaten in person or online.
In Pennsylvania, schools are required to provide written policies to students addressing how to make complaints about harassment. The Sharpsburg ordinance takes it one step further by penalizing parents of those kids caught bullying.
Mayor Matt Rudzki introduced the proposed ordinance at a meeting last month. Council amended the original proposal which called for a $600 fine because of complaints from residents who said it was too much.
Brian Kozera Jr., 19, a resident of the Fox Chapel Area School District, at a recent council meeting said he's seen the effects of bullying first hand.
“I've had friends self-harm or contemplate why they aren't good enough to fit in or why they aren't good enough to be involved,” Kozera said. “I want to voice my full support. I wish this ordinance would have been introduced when I was growing up and in school, but I'm glad something is happening now instead of seeing another child hurt physically or mentally.”
Christine Manganas is a freelance writer.