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Parental Liability for their Children: Should Parents Be Charged?

Updated on December 16, 2013

It is still unresolved. It is a dividing issue among parents, especially with teens, because the parents at this stage are more "advisors" and "mentors". Teens have a mind of their own and do know right from wrong in many, many situations, yet, tend to go with group think.

The issue usually comes up in shootings, whether at a high school or home, whether by accident or intentional OR teens partying and drinking then driving and ending in a horrific crash killing others.

In some cases, bar owners have been held liable for an adult who has been served too many drinks, allowed to leave, and then drive resulting in a murder of others. The reasoning is that the bar was fully aware the customer was legally drunk and should not drive, yet, continued to serve him and failed to detain them when they stumbled out. The bar claims they are not liable for a customer after leaving. True, yet, they could have detained and called for a taxi or even called police to prevent them from driving.

What about teens? They access to alcohol and drugs at private parties. The parents are fairly certain those elements will be present and only hope their kids stay away or limit intake. The teen passes the legal intoxication level and drives and kills others. Should the parents be somewhat liable or how about the parents where the party takes place? What about the passengers in the same car where the intoxicated driver (whether teen or not) allows this driver to drive and results in either a major or minor accident? The passengers surely are fully aware of the condition of the driver and allows them to drive causing death or property damage, should the passengers be liable in some way, whether financial or criminally?

Now, what about guns in the house? Several teens have used their parents weapons in high school shootings. Many have been injured or killed because the parents have been criminally negligent in not locking up the weapons in a secure place to prevent the access. Guns not locked up should make the parents or owners of the gun used in a shooting or crime criminally responsible as an accessory to the crime, not just the shooter. This is a no brainer. Guns that are locked up but accessed is a different manner. It depends on how secure and lock was for the guns. A gun case with glass, despite it having a lock on the door, is not secure to anyone because the glass can be broken.

Should parents be liable for some violent actions of their kids? For instance, bullying. If a parent knows their kids are the bullies, yet fail to act and inform authorities, then, a girl or boy hangs themselves, are they criminally liable for allowing it to continue? The same could said of a parent knowing their kids are doing or selling drugs to other teens, yet, does nothing to stop it, then, the drug kills a user, which is traced back to the seller and the drug is found in the parents home. Are the parents liable?

Lots of gray areas in the answers.


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    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      Well, sometimes parents think they have done a good job and find out the opposite when they are no longer at home. Parenting is the toughest job ever but the one that has the most meaning to one's life.

    • profile image 

      4 years ago

      Thanks Perrya very thoughtprovoking. Parenting is not done in isolation of society's values and being a parent you realize how different kids come out. Giving them a loving home with good role models helps but the family I dont feel gets that supported anymore - sadly, parents have the hardest time but I wonder if their getting the support they need to make our future citizens the best they can be.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      4 years ago from California

      Gray areas for sure. In this state a fourteen year old has all power about who he/she should live with if the parents are divorced. Kids have all the power until they do something wrong, then the parents are responsible. If the parents take responsibility for educating their children and making decisions for medical care then they are wrong. Totally confusing.


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