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Parental Responsibility and Age of Responsibility

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Let’s say that a child had made a mistake, mainly an illegal one, and the guardian of the child feels they do not need to be responsible for their actions. There was a poll done to see who feels that yes, parents should be responsible for their children, and no, parents shouldn’t be responsible for their children. Forty-four percent said yes; fifty-six percent said no. “All parents have a responsibility to their child until they are at least 17”, said Debate.org. Parents are responsible for the care and actions of their kids.

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To begin with, parents are responsible for the care of their children. “Parents serve as role models for their children by being sensitive and responsive to each one and by showing interest in each child and his/her experiences” (Dwarika). Every person will be or has been, a teenager. Life is full of mistakes that even the most careful person can make. Mistakes are learned from. Parents are also responsible for their own mistakes; along with the lessons learned. Parents are responsible to share their experiences with their children to help teach lessons to them as well. On November twentieth, two-thousand-nineteen, in Salt Lake City, Utah, a mascot from a gas station had been stolen. It had been stolen by teenagers as a prank and ended up in someone’s backyard. Those who had stolen the mascot were teenagers. Teenagers are more than capable to do many insane and irrational things out of impulse.

Second of all, there are “uncapped parental liability” laws that hold parents accountable for their children’s actions. “Parental liability statutes impose liability on parents or guardians for the civil or criminal acts of their minor children. Virtually all states impose some degree of civil liability on parents for torts committed by their children. Several states make parents responsible in the criminal area as well. Most states limit parental liability, but a few do not. These latter states do not cap liability when children damage property, commit negligent acts when driving a motor vehicle, harm a person or property when involved in a gang, or use or possess a firearm” (Brady). Every state has its own laws that regard different circumstances of behavior in minors. Parents are held accountable for some of the following reasons; knowledge of their child’s involvement in illegal acts, encouraging these acts, or sign any legal documents, such as a driver’s license application. Parents do have a responsibility for what their child does. Whether it is by paying fines or even being criminally charged. “Under parental liability statutes, parents may be held liable for personal injury, property damage, vandalism, shoplifting, firearm possession, bias, false reporting, and curfew violation offenses their minor children commit. Generally, these laws limit the dollar amount of a parent’s liability. But in some states, there are no caps for certain acts. In these states, parents are generally fully responsible for their children’s property damage, motor vehicle accidents, gang activity, or firearm use and possession. Some states remove the cap on liability if they can show that parental neglect caused the minor to commit the act”(Brady). In certain states, some specifications vary about the legal responsibility of parents with their children involving illegal acts. For instance, property damage, or gang activity. Parents that encourage these activities, or have knowledge of them, may be fined parents with knowledge of gang activity are liable for damages caused by their child’s involvement and benefit from the involvement. Being liable means responsible by law. Parents or guardians are responsible for their children until the age of eighteen. Parents are held responsible for gang activity if the child is in their custody, the child is currently living with parents, or if parents or guardians have failed to use reasonable efforts to prohibit the involvement in gang activities.

In addition to the prior ideas, not only is their criminal responsibility but there is also civil responsibility. “Parental liability is the term used to refer to a parent’s obligation to pay for damage caused by negligent, intentional, or criminal acts committed by the parent’s child. A parent’s liability usually ends when the child reaches the age of majority and doesn’t begin until the child reaches 8 to 10 years old. Today, most states have laws relating to parental liability in various applications. Children’s offenses can be civil or criminal in nature. Civil cases are lawsuits brought by a person for money damages. Criminal cases, on the other hand, are brought by the government for violations of criminal law. Many acts can trigger both” (Findlaw.com). When the brain is still developing, the frontal lobe is the last part to fully develop and mature. The frontal lobe contains the ability to choose. This part also contains the important cognitive skills required in any kind of decision-making. This is known as the judgment center. This is where all decisions are made. It also controls immediate and postponed impulses that occur. This part of the brain does not develop until the age of at least twenty-four. Tying this back to civil responsibility is, even though that the brain doesn’t fully develop until later on, parents cannot use the excuse that their child’s actions were caused by their spontaneous impulses from their undeveloped frontal lobe. Parents are still responsible for the actions of their children. Especially if this means it is a criminal offense. They are still required to pay for the damages that had been done.

On the other hand, some feel that there should not be responsible for children’s actions. Parents should not be held accountable for their child’s actions because they were not the ones who had done the act. Someone’s child commits a crime and is caught, a parent is not responsible. The child is the one who had done the act, so the parent should not be held accountable. Some may argue that it may have been from the way the child was raised (Green). The parent isn’t responsible for their child’s activities because they aren’t the ones who had done the criminal act. The child should be held accountable for his or her actions. In the future, the child is not going to take accountability for his or her actions that may occur because their parents always took care of it for them. In the 1960s scholars had suggested a model that had been adopted by many states in many different forms. These models modified the common law rule of parental responsibility. It was called the restatement. This is a set of guidelines for careless acts of minors; the guidelines are distinguished by younger children and older children. Every person is subject to the law of the land. Some of the laws have been changed for the benefit of the majority. In the “Old World”, it was not that parents were responsible for the actions of their child. Instead, it was the child who had to become accountable. This is unless the parent knew of the child’s doing and intentions. Now, in the United States, it is required that all parents or guardians are responsible for their children until at least the age of eighteen. The law was changed for benefit. It benefited the fact that minors not only had to take accountability but also their parents and guardians. This law was for parents to teach their younger children to be better. If they fail to do so, they will face the consequences for their child’s actions.

In conclusion, parents are responsible for their child’s actions and need to take accountability. Not only do parents need to take responsibility, but their children do too. Parents don’t just have the basic needs to meet that children need, but they also have the civil and criminal needs and responsibility to meet. Parents are responsible for their child’s misbehavior until at least the age of accountability to the age of eighteen.     

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