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Parent liability
Old 08-10-2007, 03:48 PM   #1
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Parent liability

Wondering what you all think about this:

A recent article in Newsweek entitled "The Newest Parent Trap" talked about a mother in Virginia who served alcohol to her underage son and his friends at a supervised party. No one was hurt at the party or drove afterward, but she and her husband were sentenced to 27 months in jail. The article went on to state more parent-liability laws:

Curfew---in Oregon, parents can be fined up to $1,000
Injury---(CA) parents pay both damages and a reward for turning in the offender who injured another person on school grounds---$10K
Gang activity---(LA)---parents face jil/community service time and a fine up to $250 if child becomes a gang member
Illegal downloads---(USA)---parents can pay fines of $150K if child infinges a copyright
Vandalism (AR)---fines up to $15K for vandalized property
Weapons---(CA) up to $30K for one person killed or injured because the child was allowed access to weapons
Truancy (FL)---up to $500 and six months in jail

I'm child-free, but this board seems mixed about 50-50, so I'd be interested in hearing other peoples' opinions. Seems like less people would opt to have kids if they could really be held liable for their kids' wrongdoing (not that any parent ever dreams their kid will be anything but perfect). And people do have liability for their dogs, cars, homes, businesses. But I do realize that parents can't be with a child every second of the day and can't control every action. It's kind of a tough one....
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Old 08-10-2007, 04:14 PM   #2
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I think a big problem with these kinds of laws is that when the kids are doing these kinds of things, they're probably 15-16-17 and are semi-adults. If they're doing this junk, their parents are probably having a hard time controlling them.

I don't know my particular state's laws, but just based on the culture I bet that we'd be more likely to stick the idiot kid in jail. If I were a parent of such a kid (of course I won't be, my kids are perfect angels), I'd let them stay in jail.

Tough subject.

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Old 08-10-2007, 04:44 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by SecondCor521 View Post

I don't know my particular state's laws, but just based on the culture I bet that we'd be more likely to stick the idiot kid in jail. If I were a parent of such a kid (of course I won't be, my kids are perfect angels), I'd let them stay in jail.

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I believe the OP is stating that it is the parents that will go to jail. It is their parental liability including fines.

However if your kid did go to jail at say, age 16, would you still be liable for child support. Might be time to narc on little Billy.
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Old 08-10-2007, 05:52 PM   #4
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really good subject and one i've considered even if it is illegal for me to adopt children of my own in florida.

it comes to my mind so often because we've had a rash of children killing children, facilitated by access to their parents' guns. at one time it seemed a monthly event. i remember when the state finally made parents culpable but even then, on that, i thought the law didn't go far enough as i am so anti-gun and i see no reason for them in society that i thought the law should have treated parents as if they pulled the trigger themselves. not partially liable, but entirely.

what i struggle with is how fair is it to legislate evolution of consciousness, not of just ourselves, but of others. i suppose this is done to some extent all the time. we have traffic laws--to help keep society safe--so that we are forced to think of others. and as the op notes, a parent should certainly be held responsible when handing the keys to their teen.

but am i responsible for raising the consciousness of my neighbor? of anyone who is not me? of my children? can i be held liable for failing to teach my children compassion? for instilling in them hate?

how responsible was my mother for the level of my consciousness? my mother was certainly a woman who always worked on her own, always strived to be a better person even while compassion for her came easy. but as i look at my own life and see how i was born with the ability to alter my own consciousness, how much of that do i credit mom?

am i not solely responsible for my own development yet liable for others? what a curious arrangement.
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Old 08-10-2007, 06:59 PM   #5
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I have a hard time with this subject. I think that some parents are aware that their children are doing things wrong and do nothing to try to stop them. I feel that they should be held accountable in some type of way. However, my 29 year old son, told me recently that he used to go with friends down to the river and swim and walk the railroad tracks when he was 14-15 yrs old and we were at work. He was too old for daycare and I had no idea that he was doing these types of things while I was at work. If I had a bad heart, I probably would have had a heart attack! You really can't be with them all of the time and have to let them do age appropriate things.
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Old 08-10-2007, 07:44 PM   #6
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In NY you are responsible for your kids till the age of 21. I was one happy camper when my DS turned that age.
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Old 08-10-2007, 11:52 PM   #7
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When it comes to behaviors that damage other people's property or otherwise cost them time and money, who BUT the parents is going to pay? The victimized party? The minor perpetrator? The state?

It may not be perfectly fair, but it seems like the least unfair / most plausible of the choices.
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Old 08-11-2007, 05:15 AM   #8
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I think it is "feel good" legislation.

When people picture holding the parents responsible, they imagine the Cleaver's or Ozzie and Harriet - somehow gone wrong.

Closer to reality is the little thug was born when mom was 14 and there is no father of record. Now mom is 28, strung out on crack, hooking and the little thug has 2-3 more siblings. They are probably living with grandma or auntie. No father figure there either.

Putting grandma in jail puts three more kids in the foster system and she's trying to do the best she can anyway. If putting mom in jail worked, she wouldn't be addicted anymore.

And the little thug could care less, in any case.

About the same situation applies to the schools when people claim the solution is merely to "get the parents involved".

It's a lot more complicated than just delegating the responsibility to an imaginary man and woman.
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Old 08-11-2007, 12:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by honobob View Post
I believe the OP is stating that it is the parents that will go to jail. It is their parental liability including fines.

However if your kid did go to jail at say, age 16, would you still be liable for child support. Might be time to narc on little Billy.
Yep, I understood that. What I meant was that in my state, we would be more likely to put the idiot kid in jail rather than the parents. We have a history of trying kids as young as 12 as adults for murder, for example. I think that this perspective differs from other states.

But yes, I'd still be liable for child support. I am liable until they turn 18 and/or graduate from high school, get married, or become emancipated of their own accord. There is no jail clause as far as I know.

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Old 08-11-2007, 03:27 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joss View Post
I think it is "feel good" legislation.

When people picture holding the parents responsible, they imagine the Cleaver's or Ozzie and Harriet - somehow gone wrong.

Closer to reality is the little thug was born when mom was 14 and there is no father of record. Now mom is 28, strung out on crack, hooking and the little thug has 2-3 more siblings. They are probably living with grandma or auntie. No father figure there either.

Putting grandma in jail puts three more kids in the foster system and she's trying to do the best she can anyway. If putting mom in jail worked, she wouldn't be addicted anymore.

And the little thug could care less, in any case.

About the same situation applies to the schools when people claim the solution is merely to "get the parents involved".

It's a lot more complicated than just delegating the responsibility to an imaginary man and woman.
Another poster who communes with reality.

Keep posting!

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