Should parents be punished when their child commits a serious crime?

Filed under: Health & Safety: Babies

Three teenagers in Nashville attempted to rob a pizza delivery man - one of the kids, only 14 years old, fired nine gun shots at police. The other teenagers were 13, 15 and 17 years old and were already on probation. Now, all are facing serious charges and the shooter is being charged with attempted murder.

And both the police chief and prosecutor of the case want to hold the parents accountable for the crimes.

Prosecutor Jeff Burks said, "We need to address these issues as a community, as a society because when 13 year-olds are doing things this violent, we've got real problems." But Shynetta Gurley, the mom of the 15-year-old teen who apparently was the mastermind behind the robbery, believes parents should not be punished for their kid's crimes because the families have enough problems on their own. She told a Nashville television reporter: "I don't think parents should be responsible for children doing something wrong. We do the best we can do as single parents." She also said her son was scared to see her because he's "getting a beat down coming" from her.

I've seen this issue raised before after teens or young children are involved in a violent or serious crime. The parents usually plead that they shouldn't be punished because they didn't commit the crime. But should they be punished for not being aware that their kids were involved in that sort of activity? In this case, all but one teen was on probation for other crimes - shouldn't their folks be keeping better tabs on them? And if mom and dad don't know what Junior is up to, should the parents be jailed or receive other punishment - especially if the kids are repeat offenders?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.