Parent's of Underage Repeat Offenders Could Be Named as Co-Accused


2 December 2013, 11:45am

Should the parents or guardians of underage repeat offenders be held accountable for the crimes committed by their children?

On one hand, the notion that a parent should be prosecuted for their child's crimes implies that a parent has full control over their child, and that their child's criminal behavior is a result of poor parenting. On the other hand, the notion of prosecuting parents may encourage strict discipline and lead to a possible reduction in underage offending.

A youth justice group in Western Australia has called for public support as they lobby the Government to amend the Young Offender's Act to permit the state to name either parent (or guardian) of a wayward children as a co-accused in situations where the parent has demonstrated a consistent lack of care and control towards the child.

Under the proposed amendments, parents would not face a criminal record however they would be bound to pay any compensation to the victims and also be subject to orders from the Court that obliges them to attend parenting classes, psychological sessions and in extreme circumstances may be ordered to relinquish the care of their child to the State until such time as they can prove they can exercise a reasonable level of care and control.

Parenting support groups are outraged at the proposed amendments and label them a band-aid solution to social epidemic of child offending. The amendments would also put undue pressure on families that already struggle to cope with their child's anti-social behaviour, which can arise from a variety of factors including behavioural problems and in some cases, the kid is just a bad egg.

It is unlikely that the Government will amend the Youth Offender's Act at this time, however if the issue of underage offending continues spiral out of control, we may find ourselves staring down the barrel of some pretty shit-scary legislation.

As Western Australia spirals ever closer to being a full-blown nanny state, we must ask ourselves, will we ever fix our social problems through punitive measures? Or is it finally time to look into preventive methods of reducing crime.

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