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  #1  
Old 02-26-2011, 06:52 PM
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Default Should parents be held liable for their children's actions?

This is a bit different of how I normally do things as I wanted something different. So if you don't like it, feel free to comment.

Parents have always been held liable, to a certain extent for their children's actions (in the United States). During the past several years, parental liability laws have become much more popular due to fear of juvenile crime. The laws began to increase around the time of the Columbine High School shootings in the 1990s. During these times, states like California began passing Acts like the the Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act. The Act holds parents or legal guardians criminally liable when they haven't exercised reasonable care supervision, protection, and control over the minor child.

These types of laws are not only happening in the United States but also in Canada and many of these laws may be found Unconstitutional in the U.S. or in violation of the Charter in Canada. The argument being these laws punish the parents for their children's actions. In some cases, the laws aren't about parental negligence, but based on the fact parents are responsible for a child and it is the child that has committed the crime or caused the damage.

Parent's punishments (in United States) can include citations for a misdemeanor, fines and even jail for as long as a year or probation for five years. Several other states have passed similar laws and as many as half of the states in the U.S. now have tighter parental responsibility and liability laws. This leads me to my discussion question: Should parents be held liable for their child's actions?

No, parents shouldn't be held liable for their child's actions

Does it make too much sense to blame one individual for another individual's crimes? There really is no correct way to raise a child. There isn't some formula or step by step process to teach a parent how to raise their children. This is for one reason, we have free will. Free will that includes children and minors. A parent can do everything right. They can give their children plenty of attention, set guidelines, provide a good role model, limit what they watch and listen to and despite all of these things, their children can still end up misbehaving later on. Parents aren't the only ones that impact a child's life -- other family members, teachers, friends, neighbors, and celebrities also play a large role in the mental developement of a child.

Yes, parents need to be held liable for their child's actions

A broken window must be replaced, and worse crimes cause worse damage that must be repaid. It is not the fault of the victim that an object was stolen or vandalized. It is not the fault of a child who does not know any better than he broke a window or painted on a neighbor's car. We as a society have decided that children need a time to learn right and wrong, and that during that time of learning, they are not really responsible for their actions. Even teenagers, who know better than young children, have still not completed their growing-up process, and their judgement is often affected by hormones, so we have decided that until the age of 18, they are still not entirely responsible for their actions.

So let's hear what you guys have to say...

Should parents be held reliable for their children's actions?

Discuss this.
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  #2  
Old 02-26-2011, 07:13 PM
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Discuss this.


This is something really iffy for me. I honestly think that a parent should be liable for actions their child took SO long as the could have obviously prevented it. Columbine, for an example, is not something I would hold the parents of those boys liable for. At least not with jail time. I'm sure those people feel plenty of guilt over it anyways.

Age is also something I think should be taken into account. If a kid is old enough to make their own decisions- such as 15, then I wouldn't blame a parent for their actions at all. Hormones are a poor exuse for saying a minor "just doesn't know any better". They do. They just choose to ignore that- and it's not a parent's fault. Kids around the age of concent have the power to make their own choices.

Kids that are younger on the other hand should be much easier to control via a parent. Parents still have authority, and if a child does something illegal it's either because a parent wasn't paying enough attention, they raised the kid wrong, or let them hang out with the wrong kids. 11 and 12 year olds don't have "connections" and places to go, and are still very much under the direct authority and power of the parent, regardless of how rowdy they act- there's always a way for the parent to control them. So they should be liable for younger children in all circumstances. I don't know where to draw the line though.
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Old 02-27-2011, 08:26 AM
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I honestly think that a parent should be liable for actions their child took SO long as the could have obviously prevented it.
You're right, but it calls the question as to whether the action could actually have been prevented or not. In this area, the parents of the child are often looked at as if they're the most negligent people in the world, and that's completely unfair. How far is a parent supposed to go in "watching" their child? Keep them in chains?

It's impossible to be watching your children every minute of the day, but you'd still better understand that you're going to be painted as the bad guy if you look down for one second and your child damages something. All parents know they can't be watching every minute and probably feel bad for other parents who are faced with lawsuits regarding something their kids did wrong, but if their child is the one who did the damage, they argue that they can't be expected to monitor everything their child does.

Still, if a person has genuinely suffered damage because of what someone else's kid did, they shouldn't have to bear the loss, should they? Yet, what's the sense of suing a 15-year-old kid? You might win the case, but the kid doesn't have the money to pay you. Therefore, it falls on their parents to pay the costs. Sad, but that's the reality.

If having their pockets emptied forces them to tighten the reins on their children, then so be it. Some better parenting might result from it. But let's not treat the parents of the child who causes damage as low-lives who don't care what their children are doing.

I remember an episode of a TV show in which a babysitter was watching the child of two nervous parents who were leaving the child for the first time. During the evening, the parents called the babysitter to find out how the child was doing. During the two seconds she took her eyes off the kid to answer the phone, the child injured himself by slamming a piece of furniture on his fingers, breaking them. The parents took the babysitter to court, claiming she failed to watch the child.....and the babysitter countered by claiming the reason she couldn't watch the child in the moment he got hurt was because the parents had called on the phone.

See what I mean? It's impossible to watch your kids 100% of the time.....but you have to be ready to pay the consequences if you don't. In our lawsuit-driven world, that's a real problem.
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Old 02-27-2011, 09:50 AM
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This is a two-edged sword here, and I think there has to be a middle ground of sorts.

Sure, parents (and adults, in the case of the babysitter) are supposed to watch their children. But, like stated above, a child can get everything and still turn into a despicable little shitbag. I would even go so far as to say that a child at the age of 15, who can't go get a job to pay off a lawsuit, should have to A) either be court ordered to work that debt off for the offended party or B) work in a community service setting at a "pay" rate established by the court and by doing said community service the community pays the person back based on the amount you work and you're not done until they are paid in full. Kids can do work, they do chores at home, they do odd jobs. It's a good way for them to learn the consequences of their actions. 15 is a perfectly acceptable age to handle responsibilities and if they can do odd jobs and chores at home, they damn sure can pay back compensation for damages.

That's the key, is responsibility for one's own actions. Too often these days this concept is either ignored, or in some cases not even taught by the parent. And the people who complain about "oh, that's the parents' job" need to realize that all parents don't do it. I'm sure they are even guilty of it themselves.

I think the methods they are taking are getting absurd. It gives people a reason to get away with things and pass the buck, so to speak. If there is no recourse for their actions, then why would they change their attitude? And yes, there are certain things a parent can do. Yet, these are becoming limited. A parent is limited to the amount of discipline they have over their own children these days. Laws are getting to the point where a parent has almost no disciplinary control, yet is held accountable for every single thing. If a parent says "you're in time out" or "you're grounded", and the kid says "fuck you" and takes off, what then? If you grab them or spank them, you're an abuser. If you yell at them, you're mentally abusing them. I know things aren't this extreme all the time, but you get what I mean.

Take, for example, a kid skipping school. A parent will be punished instead of the child. Sure, the child might get something uneventful such as detention or expulsion (which defeats the purpose in a truancy case anyway) and the parent has fines, possible jail time, etc. If the kid gets on the bus, gets to school, and then takes off, how the hell is the parent, who is not there and is probably at work trying to make a living in the fucked up economy and society, liable for the kid's decision to fuck up his education? I think that's a total load of bull. Not every parent is one that is neglectful or one that doesn't care about a kid's education. The parent, unless they follow their kid to school and walk them to and from each class, can't be positive they're actually in school. It just totally defeats common sense and logic. Thus the child should be held accountable. Extra school work, extra school time. Then they might realize they'd have less work if they actually just sucked up the school day.

I would say the first course of action would be to hold the child accountable for his or her own actions and the parent the secondary. After a certain age. I would say that a good age to start would be thirteen. In the case of younger children, the parent can be the primary focus and maybe in certain cases looked at more intensely and given court ordered parenting classes, anger management, things of that nature, fined, etc. and made to take responsibility for that, but when they hit that teenager status it would be time for a shift. By that time, a kid could decide to turn his/her life around if shown they need to take responsibility for their own actions even if the parent was a p.o.s. Sure, not everything is going to fall into a nice, neat category but it would be a nice general guideline for most.

I think you could relate this to the WWE's youth movement. Meaning that things would be shaky at first, but you would have to look at the big picture and plan for the future. We need to start having a mandatory parenting class for high school kids that just teaches the serious nature and importance of parenting. Sure, a number of parents would piss and moan that "it's not the school's place" to be teaching that. But sadly, it is, because not all parents teach good parenting or show it by example. It's needed. They implement dress codes and such everywhere, even when parents bitch, so eventually people would suck it up and deal. And it's ludicrous to think that since a child spends most of the day at school for most of their formative years that the school should be an impassive machine. If you are secure enough to send your kid off to the school system for the whole day, for 18 fucking years, don't say that the school doesn't have a right to teach certain things that may be confronted or needed in life. It's an ignorant stance.

We need to start changing things and preparing the next generation for the future so there will be higher success rates in life. We're slipping downhill as a society and need a little polishing or we'll be like WWE if they hadn't started building the young, new talent. A jumbled mess of people that haven't been "shown the ropes".
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Old 02-27-2011, 01:37 PM
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In most cases, I think it's a bum rap for parents to be held responsible for the actions of their child. When you're a parent, you simply cannot watch and supervise what your child does 24/7. And even if a parent does try and do exactly that, they're labeled "Helicopter parents" and are accused of doing more harm than good. So what exactly do you do when your child does something wrong?

Well, from a civil standpoint, if your child damages someone else's property then I do think it's up to the parents to at least offer to make ammends and for the child to be punished. At the same time though, there are times in which it's difficult to decide what age constitutes being a "child" these days. When I was in college, we were discussing a news story in one of my criminal justice classes involving an 8 year old boy. This 8 year old boy brought a loaded gun to school and shot & killed one of his classmates. When questioned by the police, the boy demonstrated that he knew how to load a gun and how to operate one. He also told the police that he knew where his father kept the gun even though his father never told him where he kept it. The boy loaded the gun that morning, put it in his book bag and brought it to school. The parents were primarily held responsible for the boy's actions despite the fact that they had nothing to do with what happened.

When it comes to serious infractions of the law, I think the child needs to be held responsible for his or her own actions. I think holding parents responsible in situations involving serious crimes relies on an extremely outdated and overly traditional view that lawmakers have towards children in this country. I just see it as another example of people looking for others to blame rather than forcing those actually responsible to take responsibility for their own actions.
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Old 02-27-2011, 01:48 PM
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When it comes to serious infractions of the law, I think the child needs to be held responsible for his or her own actions. I think holding parents responsible in situations involving serious crimes relies on an extremely outdated and overly traditional view that lawmakers have towards children in this country. I just see it as another example of people looking for others to blame rather than forcing those actually responsible to take responsibility for their own actions.
I think this is exactly true. People are simply not held accountable for their own actions as much as they should in this day and age.

I always think of people that overly complain about criminals' rights. What about the unalienable rights the criminals took away from an innocent person, just minding their own business? The first unalienable right is to life, and in the case of somebody taking the life of another I don't see how their rights are such an emphasis. If you take somebody's life, or mug and randomly beat somebody, or threaten somebody w/violence or threat of death while stealing, I think you gave up your rights the minute you took somebody else's away.

But yes, in the case of children, if you don't start at a young age instilling responsibility for their actions (which they preach at the parents to do anyway) then when do you? If you hold the parent accountable for teaching it, then if a child chooses to ignore the teaching and kills somebody, why would you let them off the hook? If it's good enough for the parents to teach, it's good enough of a rule for the law to uphold.
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Old 02-27-2011, 02:00 PM
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It is impossible to control children all the time as it's impossible to keep your eyes on them 24/7. Parents shouldn't be held criminally responsible for a child's actions - that is, they should never be sent to prison if they had no part in the act. However, if their child has commited a very bad act the parent could have prevented, or is deemed to be due to the parenting of the child, I see no problem with making them go to parenting classes or, in worst case scenario, taking the child off of those people.

In cases where a child has damaged someone else's property or stolen from their victim they should be forced to work for minimum wage until they've made enough money to pay the person back. If they're younger than the legal working age, as soon as they become of age the amount they owe the victim will be sent to them first before the criminal gets any amount of money. They refuse to do that, they go to prison.

There are way too many disrespectful people today who think they can get away with anything they like. They can steal a mobile phone, the victim can report it, but it's very very unlikely they'll be getting that phone or it's worth in money back. That's wrong, and EVERY theft where the criminal is caught should be paid back in full, with compensation, with the criminal working 12 hour days doing jobs no one else wants for minimum wage until they've paid it.
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Old 02-27-2011, 06:52 PM
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Depends on the crime.

If the kid continuously goes on crime sprees, he belongs in a juvenile detention center.. Or at the very least, in counseling, his environment re-checked and the parents evaluated.

Every case is unique and some kids aren't bad kids and vice versa, some parents try to hard to provide while taking away from the actual raising of the child.

I have a kid myself and I work my ass off to get the money to provide for him myself. God forbid, he grows up and becomes a criminal, it will not be my fault. A parent should do everything in his power to care for the child and that includes sending him away for his own good.

As for property damage, if he breaks something, I understand I am financially responsible for my child's actions.. I should have to pay for what he did and depending on the age, he'll be getting a job to repay it.

If he ends up killing someone, that is on him.
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Old 02-27-2011, 08:42 PM
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No! When your son or daughter does somethign wrong, what do you do? Scold him or her. Ground them. Punish THEM. Make THEM understand what THEY did was wrong. Why the hell is the parent at blame? Did the parent instruct his child do commit an illegal act? Did the parent in some way or fashion have an influence over the child's actions? No? Then the parent did nothing wrong. He's a parent. Not a puppeteer that controls every aspect of his child's life. The justice system blaming a parent with no control over their child's wrong doings is the same as a kid breaking wind and pointing to the kid next to him and saying "he did it". It's dumb and stupid to assume the child always act under his or her parent's will.
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Old 02-27-2011, 10:34 PM
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I have to look at this from two perspectives: Short term thinking and subsequent action, and Long term thinking, and subsequent action.

When I say short term thinking, I refer to something that happened without a lot of planning put into it. A teenager is made fun of because of his girlfriend, snaps, and beats the piss out of someone, injuring them badly. How is that the fault of the parent? The kid snapped suddenly. It would be near impossible for the parent to see this coming, unless the child had problems with impulse control in the past. In this scenario, Im assuming he had no prior incidents. Every child has their breaking point, and no matter how much a parent teaches them to just "walk away", enough is simply enough sometimes. The nature of the situation gets the better of them, and they lose control. The parent should be held responsible as a legal guardian in paying off whatever hospital bills weren't covered, but the child should have to work that off or get a job to pay the parent back. It's impossible, and quite frankly, a rediculous notion for a parent to be held responsible for a child who just snaps because he's had a bad day and it's punctuated by derogatory comments.

The only times I could see a parent rightfully being held accountable for their child's actions in these situations are two-fold. If there were warning signs that this behavior could possibly happen, gone ignored by the parent, then this type of snapping, despite no prior acting out behavior, should be laid partially at the parents feet. Not only from a financial standpoint, but a legal one as well. If a parent sees obvious warning signs at home, such as a child flying off the handle at everything he doesn't want to hear and does nothing, then they should be held responsible. But it's near impossible even in these situations for a parent to ultimately know their child is going to react in this manner, especially if this is the first time physical violence is used, including inanimate objects. A parent is generally only privy to so much of a child's life that for them to anticipate and stop such an event is 99.9% impossible.

The other issue I look at when it comes to this is when a parent is simply neglectful in raising their child. The old saying of "Train a child in the way he should go, and we he is older, he won't depart from it" rings especially true here. ive counseled many a "family" that's thrown their kid in a room with me and has said "fix him." As a rule, I refuse, because outside of the inherent knowledge of right and wrong I believe we all are born with, it takes a parental effort to raise a child. When the parent has done little to raise a child in the aspects of right and wrong, or greats them with "atta boy!" when he punches out a classmate, then the parent shares equal responsibility, and should be held to equal accountability. In the situations of parent failure, even in a "heat of the moment" exchange, the parent should be held equally accountable. This type of mess should be sorted out by the courts. After all, if the child isnt learning from the parent, who are they learning right and wrong from? Its not 90% of their classmates. Its not their teachers, nor should it be. Its their job to instruct, not to drill morals into children.

In looking at the other side of the coin, long term thinking/action, the parent should absolutely be held accountable. This one is much more simple, and I don't want to hear the "The parents are working" or "He's in a single parent household." Its up to the parent to make sure that the child is monitored in what they're doing, especially in their computer usage and their possessions. People mentioned Columbine, which is a great example. Both kids hd previously pleaded guilty to felony theft, attended anger management, and been in juvenile detention. Yet they're blogging on the internet about hurting classmates and how to acquire weaapons? This is an egregious example of TERRIBLE parenting, and along with the guilt the parents should feel, a jail sentence should accompany it. In the cases of thse two boys especially, the parents should be aware of what their teenagers were vieweing on the Internet, and what they had in their possession. They obviously failed, and absolutely should be held accountable for it.

Some people may think that Im being too harsh on parents, because it's children who ultimately carrying out their actions. But if the parent isn't teaching them right from wrong, who is? If the parent is seeing warning signs and not acting on them, whose to stop them from escalating? And if parents of teenagers who are known to have past criminal histories aren't monitoring their current actions, whose to stop them from doing worse? I don't mean to be harsh on parents here, but the less involved they are, the more likely their child is to act out. And who wants to be THAT parent of THAT child who committed THAT crime? None would say yes, but their actions, or lack thereof, would say different. In the end, it really depends on the situation, but for the most part, I think the parent should absolutely be held liable for the actions of their child. I guaran-darn-tee the more we would see this, the less incidents we would see occurring. And that's what we want to see in the end, isn't it?
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