Holding parents accountable might work
Have we as a society deteriorated to the point that we need laws to hold parents accountable for their children’s behavior?
That is the question the Porterville City Council will address at its next meeting.
Councilman Brian Ward has requested the city consider an ordinance that would hold parents accountable for their children’s delinquent behavior.
The idea is not new and parents can now be held accountable for not sending their children to school.
Mr. Ward’s proposal is similar to what other cities have done. According to the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), the law is in reaction to the growing number of teenage crimes. The NCPC found that teenagers are now more likely to be victims of violent crime than adults over age 25, and over the past 15 years use of guns by youthful offenders has increased by nearly 20 percent. The NCPC also states that juvenile offenders are responsible for one-third of all reported property crimes.
The NCPC says there is some evidence such an approach works. In San Antonio, Texas, ordinances on juveniles and firearms, a daytime curfew to control truancy, a late-night curfew for juveniles and graffiti removal has helped to reduce juvenile crime by 5 percent and juvenile victimization by 43 percent during curfew hours.
In Silverton, Ore., parents can be fined up to $1,000 if their child is found carrying a gun, smoking cigarettes or using illegal drugs.
We are not sure a city ordinance is needed to hold parents accountable for illegal acts by their children. We feel parents should already be held accountable, but we are also realistic enough to realize that is not the case today. Also, the ordinance means little if there are no parents present, if it is a broken family or the parents cannot afford to pay the fines.
However, we support the council at least exploring the ordinance. If the ordinance keeps one child from being killed or from a life of crime, it will be worth the effort.