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Proposed Bill In New Jersey Opens Up Parents Of Repeat Bullies To Civil Lawsuits, Monetary Penalties

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- New Jersey parents could soon be held accountable for their children's bad behavior.

A new bill opens parents of bullies up to increasing fines and civil lawsuits if a judge determines parents repeatedly ignored the behavior, CBS2's Jessica Moore reported Thursday.

Joziah Rivera Ceveno, who is just 6 years old, has experienced bullying firsthand.

"They say like, 'bunny teeth' and 'four eyes,' all kinds of stuff," Joziah said. "They get so mad that they get mad and they say something mean to someone that they don't even know. It's like they know them, but they don't."

Student bullied
Mallory Grossman (Credit: CBS2)

A new law would make parents civilly liable if they're found negligent in supervising kids who are repeat bullies, whether they're harassing other kids in person or online through social media.

The bill is called "Mallory's Law," named after 12-year-old Mallory Grossman, who committed suicide in 2017 after being relentlessly bullied online.

MOREParents Of Bullied Girl Sue New Jersey School After Her Suicide

The legislation passed a major hurdle this week, clearing a Senate panel and heading to a full vote.

The bill also increase penalties for parents who skip out on court-ordered cyber bullying classes or training programs for their children.

"I think first time you tell parents. There should be some communication. What are we going to do? What is the next step?" Jersey City parent Francesca Maldonado said. "Second time you tell parents, OK, we told you already. What are you doing? You need to be accountable for something."

"That seems a little extreme, but who knows now a days?" Union parent Jenny Weircisiewski said.

"Parents should absolutely be accountable for their kids' actions. A child doesn't have that kind of anger naturally. It came from what they see around them," Jersey City's Lea Raketic added.

"I'm overwhelmed by how much parents will focus on their kids doing well in school or sports and turning a blind eye to what kind of human they are," therapist and parent coach Tammy Gold said.

Gold said everyone -- school leaders, children and parents -- must play a role in squashing the bullying epidemic.

"There's physical education, but no emotional education," Gold said. "Parents have to say it's OK if you're angry. You may want to hurt someone or get back at them. Here's a better way to do it. It's critical that parents play a role. Children will do something only if they know they can get away with it."

If the bill becomes law, parents of bullies will no longer be able to ignore the behavior without facing serious consequences.

The legislation would also make it easier for kids to report bullying by adding more school officials and in some cases a school resource officer to take complaints.

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