Are Parents To Blame For Raising Bullies?

Middle School Girl, Wellsville, New York, USA. (Photo by: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)
Middle School Girl, Wellsville, New York, USA. (Photo by: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)

Should parents be punished for their children's bullying crimes? One New York student thinks so. She's taking her aggressors and their parents to court, and she's not the only one who favors such action.

Caitlin Rocco, a senior at Scholars Academy in Rockaway Beach, told New York's CBS2 that she has been "tormented" for years by classmates. And while she said she's "counting the days until graduation," she doesn't plan to leave high school without fighting back. She and her mother are preparing a lawsuit against her bullies and their parents.

"I think parents can do their part by raising children who understand that there are all different kinds of people and it is in no way acceptable to bully any kind of person for any reason," the resilient student told CBS2.

According to figures from the National Center of Education Statistics, almost one-third of students report being bullied in school. A new study from the Justice Policy Center's Urban Institute found that 17 percent of youths had been cyberbullied in the past year.

Taking lawmakers, schools and parents to task for this rampant problem, HuffPost blogger Steve Siebold writes: "They need to stop denying the problem and closing their doors, and start acting like leaders. Parents need to be more involved with their children, and stop bullying in its tracks. If not, parents need to be held accountable, too."

Some legal minds also want to punish parents whose children become involved in cyberbullying. Last month, Florida-based legal advocacy group Justice Outreach proposed a bill called "Bullying, Cyberbully, and Harassment -- Parental Responsibility," which would legally define both bullying and cyberbullying and would hold parents of bullies and bullying victims accountable if they fail to supervise their children.

While the legal culpability in bullying cases is still up for debate, there are many resources to help parents recognize warning signs that their child might be engaging in bullying behavior. notes that children may be bullying others if they "are increasingly aggressive," "blame others for their problems" and "are competitive and worry about their reputation or popularity."

So what's a concerned parent to do? The National Crime Prevention Council outlines a whole range of steps for parents who think their children might be bullying. The council cautions against treating the behavior like a passing phase and recommends contacting teachers or school counselors.