An anti-bullying law in North Tonawanda seems to be working, according to North Tonawanda officials.
The law went effect last October. It punishes parents if their child is caught bullying.
“Our aim was not to lock parents up and to arrest them for the actions of their children,” said Roger Zgolak, North Tonawanda police chief.
It’s been a little more than a year since North Tonawanda’s anti-bullying law went into effect.
“Suprisingly, we have not had to summons any parents into court for the actions of their children,” said Chief Zgolak.
Police chief Roger Zgolak says so far police haven’t arrested any parents of children caught bullying.
According to the law, parents could spend up to fifteen days in jail or pay a $250 or both, but that’s supposed to be a last resort.
Police investigate a bullying complaint and Zgolak says the family gets a warning letter.
“In this past year, we’ve only written one warning letter to one family regarding their child. That family I believe has reached out to other agencies to help correct the behavior,” said Zgolak.
If the child is caught bullying again within 90 days, then the parent has to go to court. Something both the city and parents hoped would prevent students from getting hurt.
“Our aim was to use it as a deterrent and to correct behavior and I think that has worked for us,” said Zgolak.
But some in North Tonawanda say they don’t believe the law is truly enforced.
Mayor Art Pappas disagrees and says he believes not all bullying cases are reported. But he says the city has noticed a difference.
art pappas, mayor of north tonawanda
“We have definitely noticed a decline in incidents that are being reported,” said North Tonawanda mayor Art Pappas.
He believes this law is sending a message to both children and their parents.
“I think we made a point in our town, like I guess any city or town, that we don’t want to tolerate bullying whether it be children or adults,” said Pappas.
Some parents tell News 4 they hadn’t even heard of the anti-bullying law.
Mayor Pappas says the city works with the North Tonawanda City School District. He says people can report complaints to the city or police.