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Should parents be held responsible for their kid's actions? At what age does it end?

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12-Year-Old School Shooter's Grieving Parents Could Be Forced to Pay for Deaths

by Jeanne Sager

sparks middle schoolPolice are slowly shifting through the horror of the Sparks Middle School shooting that claimed the lives of hero teacher Michael Landsberry and the 12-year-old shooter. Chilling 911 calls have surfaced featuring the panicked voices of young kids from the Nevada school. And now we may have two people forced to pay for this tragedy: the shooter's parents.

Of course, they're already paying an emotional price. Their son is dead, and what's more, he's responsible for a national tragedy. But criminal charges could be coming to make their nightmare that much more intense.

Police have identified the unidentified shooter's gun as a Ruger 9 mm semi-automatic handgun, and authorities say they believe the 12-year-old got that gun from his parents.

We could talk about responsible gun ownership until we're blue in the face here, and the fact remains that responsible gun owners lock up their guns so their kids can't get hold of them. Period.

But how long can parents be expected to keep their kids on the straight and narrow? To know everything it is they might get up to?

This was not a 7-year-old. This was a seventh grader!

We've all known devious 12-year-olds smart enough to find a key and unlock a gun cabinet. If that's what happened, if this kid snuck that gun out of the house, is it fair to hold his parents responsible? Is it realistic to have expected them to check his backpack every morning like you would a kindergartner?

What if he was a bit older? Thirteen instead of 12? How about 16?

As parents, we are often looked at by non-parents and expected to "get control of that kid," but every parent has experienced that flash of fear that their "control" over their kid won't last forever, CAN'T last forever. We can start them on the right path and give gentle nudges back toward it, but in the end, we can only do so much.

A tragedy has happened at Sparks Middle School, and right now we are all looking for someone to blame. But blaming them for what their child did won't undo what has been done.

It would behoove us all to remember that this boy's parents are already suffering. They've already paid the ultimate price.

Should parents be held responsible for their kid's actions? At what age does it end?

by on Oct. 23, 2013 at 8:32 AM
Replies (11-20):
Farmlady09
by Silver Member on Oct. 23, 2013 at 3:52 PM
1 mom liked this

Personally, I've known children 8 and younger that could pick just about any lock made. One of my sons was capable of picking even government issue locks by the time he was 10 ~ and most other locks he was picking by the time he was 5 or so (my other two couldn't ... or didn't have any interest ... and I do find some irony in the fact that my little lock picker is now a cop lol).

That being said, I think that parental responsibility should end at whatever age the government deems a child old enough for major medical procedures without parental consent or even knowledge. At that point, if the government says the child is old enough to make an adult decision, they should be held accountable for their choices, actions, and the repercussions for everything else.

If the parents had their guns under lock and key, and this boy either stole the key or picked the lock, he's old enough to have known exactly what he was doing. At 12, I was hunting. I knew what a gun was, and what they did ~ and I was quite capable of killing cute little squirrels and Bambi. All of the psycho babble about kids' brains not being fully formed, etc. does not change the fact that they know right from wrong unless they are mentally challenged in some way. They may not CARE about what is right or wrong ... but they know. They may not think ahead to the repercussions, but they know. I won't give even lip service to patting a child who did something atrocious on the head and telling them it's ok because they aren't 18 ~ especially when it involves taking the life of another human being (or an animal). On the other hand, if the homelife is such that it can reasonably be ascertained that the child WAS taught right from wrong, I see no reason to blame or punish parents, particularly just so people can say something was done.

Now, if the parents are druggies, alcoholics, criminals themselves it is reasonable to assume that they are teaching their children these things, even if only by allowing them to watch it and learn that it is normal ... because in a house where those activities are taking place, that IS 'normal'. That is where I would haul the parents in and not only demand they explain just what it was they were (or weren't) thinking ... but hold them accountable. That to me is no different than raising a violent dog and letting it run around the neighborhood.

BethanyJ
by Member on Oct. 23, 2013 at 3:57 PM
1 mom liked this

These parents should not be held responsible unless it is proven that they were negligent regarding the storage of their firearm.  Even excellent, loving parents cannot be perfect, and some kids are devious and sneaky behind their parents' backs.  Owning a firearm isn't illegal, and the parents should not be held responsible for these deaths if they properly secured the firearm and the child still managed to find a way around it.  

pamelax3
by Gold Member on Oct. 23, 2013 at 4:02 PM

If these parents were negligent on where they had there gun then yes they are responsible for providing the weapon. This young man was old enough to know what he was doing and there is nothing at that point the parents could have done with the exception of the weapon.

stormcris
by Christy on Oct. 23, 2013 at 4:53 PM

There are quite a few news stories about this being the result of bullying. Quotes from such was reported with him saying "You guys ruined my life so I am going to ruin yours" "Why are you laughing at me?" They said he was basically hysterical and crying all the while as well. 

Quoting pamelax3:

 where did it say this child was bullied?


Quoting stormcris:

Alright so should not the families of the children who bullied likewise be responsible in these deaths? It is curious to me. Bullies are held responsible for when they drive a child to take their own life but not when they drive a child to take the lives of others plus their own? Responsibility is very far reaching when going down such a road.

No the parents should not be responsible.




pamelax3
by Gold Member on Oct. 23, 2013 at 5:22 PM
1 mom liked this

 Oh I had not read that!


Quoting stormcris:

There are quite a few news stories about this being the result of bullying. Quotes from such was reported with him saying "You guys ruined my life so I am going to ruin yours" "Why are you laughing at me?" They said he was basically hysterical and crying all the while as well. 

Quoting pamelax3:

 where did it say this child was bullied?

 

Quoting stormcris:

Alright so should not the families of the children who bullied likewise be responsible in these deaths? It is curious to me. Bullies are held responsible for when they drive a child to take their own life but not when they drive a child to take the lives of others plus their own? Responsibility is very far reaching when going down such a road.

No the parents should not be responsible.

 

 



 

lga1965
by on Oct. 23, 2013 at 9:05 PM

 Responsibility lies with parents who are gun owners. It should be obvious to everyone here that some kids CAN pick locks and shouldn't be trusted with guns.It should be obvious  ( even without knowing that kids can pick locks ) that owning a gun when there are children and teens in the home is risky and they must be held responsible for horrible things that happen like this one.

LindaClement
by Thatwoman on Oct. 24, 2013 at 12:24 AM

I think it made more sense when, at 12, there might be a parent within shouting distance of the child at any point from 8am to 9pm.

It's a bit unrealistic to expect parents to have any remote control over a 12yo who is roaming the city at large... while they're working.

Liz_Rocket
by on Oct. 24, 2013 at 2:38 AM
Quoting LindaClement:

I think it made more sense when, at 12, there might be a parent within shouting distance of the child at any point from 8am to 9pm.

It's a bit unrealistic to expect parents to have any remote control over a 12yo who is roaming the city at large... while they're working.




I'm not sure if the issue is control of the child so much as responsibility of them. Most parents work and most parents are still expected to be responsible for their children. If a 12 year old broke a neighbor's window while his parents were at work, would it be reasonable for the parents to say, "Well, we're not responsible for damages because we were at work and we have no control over our child's actions when we're not there"?
momtoscott
by Platinum Member on Oct. 24, 2013 at 6:24 AM

Has to be judged on a case-by-case basis.  

MrsLondon
by on Oct. 24, 2013 at 8:26 AM

There are too many factors involved to simply answer yes or no. Every human being old and young are given free will. You can't force another person to do anything or not do anything. Babies as young as 3 months old have the ability to decipher right and wrong. So by 12 you're telling me that it wasn't a conscious choice for that boy to get a gun and take it to school? That was not something the parents taught him I'm sure. I would say by the age of 10 most children have the maturity to know that killing someone is wrong.

In the case of the parents locking up the gun properly, yes a case can be made for negligence. That's about it though. The boy's actions killed that teacher. Not just the mere fact that the parents had a gun in the house. In THIS case he may have gotten in from home. What about the cases of teens you didn't get the gun from home. It's not hard to obtain a gun illegally on the streets.

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