If parents should not be at least taken into account for their child’s criminal behavior, then neither should a coach be lauded for turning out a great player, or a teacher be commended for helping a student achieve academic success.
Although it is true that parents cannot perform the actions for a child, they can certainly have control over their child and mold them into either responsible citizens or hell-raising hellions. When a child is under the age of 18 and still living at home, their parents can set rules for what they watch, who they hang out with, how late they stay up, and where they go. While it is true that children can rebel (and many certainly do), careful guidance and time spent building a relationship can do much to prevent outrageous activity.
Many parents do not know how to parent correctly, and will either try to be an authoritative dictator or their child’s best friend. Ruling with an iron fist will often cause child rebellion; giving in to every childhood whim will make the child feel that he or she can get away with just about anything. Parents need to guide their children, establish boundaries with them, and, more than anything else, spend time with them and show them that they are loved.
When parents cease to show interest in their child and their child’s interest, that child will seek attention elsewhere. If a teenager does not feel loved, they will look for love in the wrong places. Gangs or groups of pranksters often give an adolescent a feeling of belonging, and they will often do whatever it takes to fit in with this crowd.
On the other hand, parents can mold and shape, but they cannot be with their child 24 hours a day (unless they are very, very controlling). Children, especially teenagers, can and will make their own decision. A 15-year-old knows they should not steal; if they do steal, they should be punished accordingly, as an adult. A 17-year-old knows what a gun can do; if they choose to kill somebody, they should have a swift trial and be shot.
Circumstances should be taken into account. If a child truly has a mental problem, that should be factored into the punishment. Also, steps should be taken to research the background and the parent’s influence upon the child. Ultimately, “children” who are of age should be held responsible for their actions; parents and other “adults” need to step up and start acting like adults because they should be, after all, raising adults who simply pass through the stage of childhood.