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By cmackdaddie Apr 30, 2013 1006 Words
Should parents be held responsible for their children’s actions?
Do you have siblings at home? Have you ever gotten in trouble for something you’ve never done? It’s not a good feeling. If you don’t want to be blamed nor punished for something you didn’t commit why should parents?

As violence by juveniles has increased in recent years, the debate about parents’ legal responsibility for children’s behavior has escalated. Shootings, gang violence, drugs, alcohol these are very few things that children this lifetime are getting into. These are the things that parents are teaching their kids to stay away from but children, teens are doing them anyway. Why would kids do any of these things when they were raised not to? It’s because of peer pressure, friends, “everyone’s doing.” Are many of the excuses that teens are using to drink or smoke. Parents do everything they can to make sure that their children do the right thing and stay away from trouble. Parents will always teach their child what’s the right thing to do, but they can’t control the thoughts and actions of their children.

Each day, 3,500 kids in the United States try their first cigarette and nearly 1,000 additional kids under 18 years of age become new regular daily smokers. That’s nearly 400,000 new underage daily smokers. Teens will always want a life of their own disregarding what their parent says or tells them or teach them. The hardest time in a teens life is when their entering high school. Several studies in developmental psychology have found that children are, essentially, a blank slate. Granted, there are several traits that are inborn or inherited, but mostly children learn right and wrong through observation of others. Until they are of schooling age, their parents are the predominate role models in a child's life. Whether or not the child is taught integrity and morals is the responsibility of the parent. It is hoped that the parents can instill a strong enough sense of right and wrong so that by the time the child is exposed to other sources, their moral compass is secure.

Therefore, I believe that parents are responsible for their children's actions, as they are the root of their character. It is a parent's duty to teach their children responsible behavior. They must see that a child knows right from wrong, and discipline the child if he or she misbehaves. However, how the child takes in what’s been taught to them is beyond the parent’s control. At some point as a parent, your kids are going to make poor choices. We all hope the impact of those choices will be minor, provide opportunities to learn and leave no lingering consequences for your children or others. When a child who has been taught normative behavior chooses to commit a crime, then he or she should be held responsible. The only exceptions are when a parent has become aware of a situation that might have been prevented had they known about it and failed to intervene or when they provide the tools that lead to criminal acts. Advocates of full parental accountability, who subscribe to the “vicious dog analogy” of legal responsibility (816), believe parents should know about and control their children’s actions, and accept their obligation to bear the consequences of their children’s mistakes. On the other side are those who believe parents should only be responsible for their children’s crimes if they failed to exercise “reasonable care, supervision, protection, and control” (814). Although critics ask what constitutes “reasonable” care, it is this argument which is more sound and has validity established through legal precedents. While parents typically do their best to ensure their children conform to moral and legal norms, they should not be held accountable when their children exercise self-will, however lacking in insight and good judgment, to commit criminal acts. Critics contend that “reasonable care” is ambiguous, but courts have clearly established precedents that identify the criteria by which parental responsibility is determined. In Seifert v. Owen, three criteria were established. First, if a parent willingly gives a child an instrument that can harm others, he or she is accountable for any harmful outcomes. Second, if the parent provides a tool that is not “inherently” dangerous but could threaten others due to a condition the child has and of which the parent is aware, then he or she is responsible. Finally, if the parent observes a violent behavior and fails to intervene, then he or she is accountable according to the law (818). Reasonable care is thus seen to be more clear-cut than critics acknowledge. Although jurisdictions with parent responsibility laws have argued that the decline in juvenile offenses is statistically significant, such statistics fail to take into consideration parents who have done everything they could for a child who still commits an offense against law and society. Most parents exercise reasonable care and want their children to do good, not harm. When children, armed with values and knowledge, choose to harm others, then the responsibility for their actions rests squarely upon them.

When parents start taking the blame I believe children will par-take in more crimes, act more rebellious, and grow up with barely any life lessons. Parents who take blame for their child’s offences often find themselves with even a bigger problem than what they had in the first place. Towns and cities across the nation have enacted ordinances in response to growing concern of juvenile crime. In thirty-three states, local judges can require parents to pay bale for crimes committed by their children. City councils have designed late-night curfew, truancy, graffiti, gang enforcement, and gun ordinances that impose penalties and possible arrest for parents whose children repeatedly violate the ordinances' behavior standards. The children did not understand the term “consequences to their actions” unless they were punished in private by their parents. The strategy didn’t resolve the growing issue of youth criminal activity. (Strategy: Holding Parents Accountable for Their Children's Behavior).

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