Juvenile Crime and Victimization - Holding Parents Responsible
children laws delinquent convicted
Many Americans became frustrated by the rising juvenile crime rates in the 1980s and early 1990s. In response, communities and states passed laws holding parents responsible for their children's actions. According to the National Center for Juvenile Justice, a nonprofit research organization, at the end of the 1998 legislative session, thirty-four states had statutes that made parents of delinquent children liable to the victim of the crime. Thirty-nine states had statutes that either allowed or required parents of delinquents to participate in treatment, counseling, or probation with their children.
All states have laws that make it mandatory or optional for the court to require parents to pay at least some of the costs for a child who is delinquent and placed out of the home. Some have laws that hold parents partially responsible for their children's delinquent behavior. A Louisiana law allows parents to be fined up to $1,000 and imprisoned for up to six months if they are found guilty of "improper supervision of a minor" (for example, if the child is associating with drug dealers, members of a street gang, or convicted felons). In 1995 Judge Wayne Creech of Family Court in Columbia, South Carolina, ordered that a fifteen-year-old girl with a history of shoplifting and truancy be chained to her mother for one month. A Florida mother was convicted of truancy and sentenced to a year's probation because three of her five children refused to go to school.