Should Parents Be Liable for their Kids?

Florida State representative Dan Eagle has proposed a bill to hold parents accountable for their children’s crimes. The bill proposes that children and their parents repay losses caused by a juveniles crimes. Parents who don’t or aren’t able to pay for losses can face stiff penalties such as a lien on their home or having their driver’s license revoked.

The bill does face formidable opposition, one of its most outspoken detractors is Representative Dave Hood. The representative opposes such harsh penalties being applied to parents as well as the fundamental intent of the bill. Hood has argued that the bill is placing responsibility of their child’s actions on parents, when in many cases they may not have had any ability to affect their child’s actions. Hood also questioned whether or not any of his fellow representative had raised children, as they would clearly understand his argument if they had. Representative Eagle has said he will work on parts the bill in accordance with concerns but still believes in its intent. Eagle affirmed the bills intent essentially arguing that not all parents take responsibility for their children, the bill ensures that parents will feel more inclined to be involved in their children’s lives.

It can be argued that a parent should be liable if they are the ones that inadvertently procure the means for the child to commit the crime, such as making a weapon totally accessible in the home. On the other hand, gauging the parents’ ability to parent the child and then their actions are a result of poor parenting is very nebulous to make legitimate. Philosophical differences on parenting methods are hard to justify when it comes to upholding criminal justice. Civil justice may be a different consideration depending on the scenarios that are being dealt with.

Despite formidable opposition, the bill was passed in the Florida House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, the vote was 12 in favor with only 1 dissenting democratic representative. The bills next stop will be in the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee. If enacted, Florida would not be the first state to enact a parental accountability law. Many states have adopted similar stances to juvenile crime.