Should Parents be Held Responsible for their Minor Childrens Criminal Behavior – Yes

There isn’t really a “yes” or “no” answer to this debate but nominally the answer is yes. Parents should be held liable for the behavior of their minor children. The question really becomes where does the “buck” stop?

If a child intentionally throws a rock through the neighbor’s window should the parent pay? Of course they should. The child should have to pay as well, including community service and juvenile detention time. Should the parent do jail time along with the child? Probably not, that is a bit much.

If a minor child steals a car should the parent be financially responsible? Yes. Should they be criminally responsible? I don’t know the answer to that. Maybe they should be depending upon the circumstances.

I do volunteer work in the juvenile justice system of my state. I work primarily with violent offenders who have done their time and are now going through the final stage of their penalty phase, usually parole and Victim Impact. I do this because I am a victim of a violent crime. I also work in the adult system doing the same type of work. But working with the juveniles is quite different because I meet their parents also. My offenders, the people who carjacked me and shot me three times leaving me for dead were 15 and 17 year old boys, they were all tried as adults and are serving time. It is one of the reasons I work with teenagers.

Every time I do a Victim Impact Panel with teens and their parents at least one parent will stand up in the audience and tell me that their child doesn’t belong there. That their child is actually a good kid. I always ask why he is in a group of violent offenders, because usually they aren’t there for a first offense. The parents get highly offended. It is parents like that who convince me that indeed parents should be held responsible for the actions of their minor children; it is parents like that who enable their minor children to act in a criminal manner and get away with it.

If parents won’t raise their children to have a sense of responsibility and respect then who is to blame? The child or the parent? Who should pay the consequences of the criminal act?