Should Parents be Held Responsible for their Minor Childrens Criminal Behavior – No

Parenting is very difficult in our modern age and no one gives a parent a rule book on how to bring up the best children. It is always trial and error, no matter how aware or educated the parents are. However, children under age are not responsible for themselves. They are part of a family group. As such, parents are automatically responsible for the behaviour of their minors. The reasons why minors misbehave are many, but they are directly linked to how they are reared, especially if they are brought up by the following parents:

* Authoritarian, controlling parents: They expect strict obedience at all times, often using physical/verbal punishment. The child’s needs are not considered because parent always ‘knows best’. The emphasis is on power, control and dependency, as these children later find it hard to make decisions for themselves and are always seeking approval. However, because of the close way they are being monitored and watched, and the lack of latitude allowed for their actions, children in these controlling homes are always testing the boundaries of acceptable behaviour and are prone to ‘breaking out’ of their restrictive situation whenever the opportunity arises.

* Permissive indulgent parents: They exercise very little parental control combined with much over-indulgence of the child’s needs. The emphasis is on pleasing the child, often to compensate for lack of attention/affection, even to the detriment of other siblings. Money is often used as substitute for love or quality time. Affection and giving are often used as a carrot and stick to elicit particular types of behavior at different times instead of for their own sake. These chiildren tend to be confused about love, and being loved, often insecure and needy in attention. Their deviant behaviour is usually to get attention and test parental feelings of love and reinforcement.

* Permissive neglectful parents: There is minimal parental control and response to the child’s needs. Parent prefers to behave like a ‘friend’ than parent. Often left alone for long periods, these children tend to make their own discipline. There are few boundaries of acceptable behaviour because the child is allowed much latitude to compensate for lack of attention. The child is often left to his/her own devices until behaviour is no longer accepted or there is a crisis. These children tend to put their own needs above others and often make decisions that are likely to have a deviant outcome. In fact, most deviants would come from this group, or the controlling parents group, which would explain why these parents are often genuinely surprised when their children have been deviant.

These three parenting styles are usually less effective, resulting in children/adolescents who are hostile and rebellious (permissive style) or withdrawn and low in self-esteem (authoritarian). The Authoritative parent is the most effective type. They set clear rules and are consistent in enforcing rules, but are more flexible in control. They explain rules as necessary; discipline and control are based upon the needs of the child (within reasonable limits), are consistent, and there is emphasis on learning and taking responsibility for personal action. Above all, children are encouraged to think for themselves and use their initiative.

Parenting in the 21st century is different from earlier years and much more daunting, as children are more exposed to adult themes of violence and explicit sexual imagery at earlier stages in their lives. Many parents are unsure of how to treat their children in this kind of atmosphere, but the responsibility still lies with them because children learn from the adults’ behaviour and adults are the key role models for young minors. However, at the same time they need to be educated in the most effective parenting skills, not just blamed for their children’s bad behaviour, especially if they have no knowledge of how to make it better.