A mother is fighting back, after she says her son was bullied at school. Beth Harmon is pushing for an "anti-bully" ordinance that would impose fines on bullies and their parents. The Beloit mom said a recent event spurred her to finally take action.
“The school nurse called me; I could hear him (her son) in the background. He was hyperventilating he can barely talk and I’m expecting her to tell me he had an asthma attack,” Harmon said.
Instead though, she learned her son Jimmy Staggs, a sixth-grader at Cunningham Intermediate, was beaten on the playground by a group of students led by a longtime class bully.
“They all came and they all went around me and then one threw something at me,” Staggs said describing the event.
It was the final straw for Harmon, who said she's tried several times to work with the Beloit School District to put an end to the harassment.
“Even the police department said that since they're 11, there's nothing they can do,” Harmon said of Beloit police.
Harmon is now taking matters into her own hands proposing an ordinance that would make bullies pay for their bad behavior.
“There has to be something that steps it up,” Harmon said. “That says to the kids and the parents know about it and that it’s not O.K.”
Other Wisconsin communities in Shawano and Plover have adopted similar ordinances. In Monona parents are first sent a letter. If their child commits another offense within 90 days, they are fined.
“We've never written a ticket, we've issues three warnings letters, two to the same family, that family has since moved out of Monona. The third one seemed to resolve itself,” Monona police Chief Walter Ostrenga said.
The Monona rule has been in place for more than three years. Ostrenga said the low numbers speak to the program's success.
“It acts as a deterrent,” he said.
Jimmy and Beth believe a rule like this will build another important barrier to bullying.
“I know it's not going to be an end to all of it but at least we can stop it here,” Jimmy said.
So far Harmon has collected 300 signatures from parents want to end bullying in Beloit. She'll also share her ideas at a school district meeting next week.