Should parents be held responsible for the crimes of their children?

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In the recent years, there has been great debate on whether parents should be held liable for their children’s wrongdoing. Laws in many states such as the US provides that a parent should be held responsible for their children’s offenses (Geis, Gilbert, Arnold Binder, 2012). The government views this as a way to manage youth crime. It blames parents for failing to impart acceptable morals to their children. To the government, the best way to improve parental responsibility is by imposing financial penalties (Arthur, 233). I concur with the move of having parents take responsibility for their children’s behavior. The following are instances that support the need to hold a parent responsible:

A child can willfully commit an act that consequently leads to damage to property. Children can sometimes act recklessly by throwing stones on someone’s house or car. Such actions present their parent as negligent. They have not warned their children about the harm that can be caused by dangerous objects. The parent in most cases has poor child-rearing skills. Because the child committed the act willfully, it indicates that they might have committed it in the past and went unpunished. In Texas Family code, the parent of the child with age of between 10 and 18 will be required to pay a fine of $2500 (Johnson). This move informs parents the importance of being keen, and failure to do so have consequences.

When parents are irresponsible and unavailable to guide children, they should be blamed for the negative actions of their children. Parents who are on drugs are many times considered irresponsible with their children. They are rarely available to guide their children and foster good parental bonding (Arthur, 245). Their children lack a role model which impacts on their behavior. Such children tend to steal or peddle drugs because their parents are rarely around to support them financially and behaviorally. In such situations, I think the parent should be held responsible for their omission of duty.

When a parent fails to control a child or inform and warn others about the dangers of associating with the child, there is need to punish the parent. A parent may know that their child has previously molested another child (Johnson). If someone comes into their home with a child, the parent should tell the parent of their child’s previous behavior. Failure to, is the omission of vital information and the parent should be held responsible if their child commits the same act. The child’s action was foreseeable, and hence the parent has culpability. The parent failed to control his/her child in such a way to prevent future occurrence of similar mistakes. In such circumstances, the parent should face the law. Also, parents should take responsibility when they entrusts objects or actions to their children (Johnson). A parent may give his/her child an object such as a car with full knowledge that the child cannot drive, is inexperienced or has medical conditions such as poor eyesight. The child’s use of the car poses a risk to himself or others. In such situation, a parent should be held liable for the crime committed.

As presented above, we can conclude that parents are the custodians of their children. They should be close to them to provide family bonding and impart good morals while being good role models to them. Parents should avoid negligence, the omission of duty, irresponsibility, and failure to control as all this affects their children. Children grow to become what they are taught. Therefore, the law should not hesitate to hold parents responsible for the crimes committed by their children.

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  1. Arthur, Raymond. “Punishing parents for the crimes of their children.” The Howard Journal of Crime and Justice 44.3 (2005): 233-253.
  2. Johnson, David. “Holding Parents Responsible For Their Children’s Crimes.” (2017): n. page. Web. 30 Nov. 2017.
  3. Geis, Gilbert, and Arnold Binder. “Sins of their children: Parental responsibility for juvenile delinquency.” Notre Dame JL Ethics & Pub. Pol’y 5 (2012): 303.
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