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Teach Your Child Or Pay

Punishment is one way to handle misbehaving teens, but for the town of Oak Creek Wis., it may be the parents who get punished.

A new town ordinance in a suburb of Milwaukee will allow police to fine the parents of teen offenders. CBS News Correspondent Russ Mitchell spoke with Oak Creek Police Chief Thomas Bauer about it on This Morning.

Oak Creek's ordinance lets police fine parents of children between the ages of 12 and 17 who get two municipal citations in six months or three in a year.

Citations can be issued for such offenses as underage drinking or stealing. The local law is similar to an ordinance of parental responsibility adopted in Wausau, Wis.

"One of the problems that we have seen arising is a little bit less control by the parents," Chief Bauer said. "So it's more of a problem with some particular parents than it is with the kids."

Fines start at $250 and go up to $1,000. And it is separate from ordinance violation charges imposed on the kids. Fined adults can petition for dismissal if they agree to attend parenting classes or some other type of counseling.

"In the city of Wausau, where it has been in effect for a year, they have not had one dime paid," said Bauer. "Instead the parents have chosen to attend the parenting classes. So it is an absolute win-win for the city, for the parents and for the kids."

And the police chief added that Oak Creek has reacted very positively to this ordinance with the Council backing it up 100 percent.

If parents object by saying it's impossible to watch their children 24 hours a day, they can explain to the judge what they have done in their parenting as a defense, Chief Bauer said.

Oak Creek police speculate that they'll issue three to five parental responsibility fines each year.

"I think every municipality has a few families they can name right off the top that they know that the parents are somewhat neglectful," Chief Bauer said.

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