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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 (21-30):
heather77g
by Bronze Member on Oct. 24, 2013 at 8:57 AM
Parents can do all they can to control and teach their children right / wrong. We dont always know what our children do (especially when we aren't there) all we can do is pray that we have raised our kids correctly and hope they follow in them footsteps we set forth for them. I think more information needs to be brought forth to see if the parents could have prevented this, if they could have then yeah they should be to blame.
momto3B
by Bronze Member on Oct. 24, 2013 at 9:07 AM

Sorry, but if the gun he used belongs to the parents, they SHOULD be held accountable.

PamR
by Pam on Oct. 24, 2013 at 9:23 AM

In this case, they certainly should.  He got the gun from them.  If a child's actions are a direct result of a paren't irresponsibility, then they should be held responsible.  And that can be anything from a shooting to bullying.

LindaClement
by Thatwoman on Oct. 24, 2013 at 1:14 PM

When parents have finished cutting themselves out of their children's lives --no more babysitters, and they're not available at all to have any idea at all what the kids are doing ... I can't see how they can be 'held responsibile.'

Culturally, it once made sense, because there were parents anywhere near their awake children between 9 and 18 years old. Those days appear to be gone.

When children were very first 'at large' when their parents were working (child labour laws taking them out of the factories) parents very logically argued they couldn't possibly be responsible for whatever Dickensian trouble their kids were in while they were working. This is why the cost of public school was considered such a good idea: it enforced confinment for children while their parents were working.

Now that 12yos get to declare themselves 'done' with daycare, and school hours no longer related in any way to work days, the problems arise anew: with (both) parents commuting sometimes hours away from where they live, kids are at large, unsupervised and far beyond anyone's control for a great deal of the day --in many cases until curfew, if anyone can figure out how to enforce that...

Who needs to 'fix' that? Parents? Society? Employers?

Quoting Liz_Rocket:

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"?


lga1965
by on Oct. 24, 2013 at 1:38 PM

 ewww, that sounds bad,doesn't it? Cutting kids out of your lives.

We knew where our kids were. (Until they went away to college.)They didn't hide things from us. It didn't bother them to be at home when not in school or playing school sports or working. Maybe we were just lucky or maybe it was because we were a close family? I worked part time and my schedule always made it possible to come home when the kids were due home on the bus.  ( we didn't believe in buying a car for the kids ) And we didn't have a gun in the house. This was in the 80's. I think people have changed since then and not in a good way.

Old fashioned I guess.

Quoting LindaClement:

When parents have finished cutting themselves out of their children's lives --no more babysitters, and they're not available at all to have any idea at all what the kids are doing ... I can't see how they can be 'held responsibile.'

Culturally, it once made sense, because there were parents anywhere near their awake children between 9 and 18 years old. Those days appear to be gone.

When children were very first 'at large' when their parents were working (child labour laws taking them out of the factories) parents very logically argued they couldn't possibly be responsible for whatever Dickensian trouble their kids were in while they were working. This is why the cost of public school was considered such a good idea: it enforced confinment for children while their parents were working.

Now that 12yos get to declare themselves 'done' with daycare, and school hours no longer related in any way to work days, the problems arise anew: with (both) parents commuting sometimes hours away from where they live, kids are at large, unsupervised and far beyond anyone's control for a great deal of the day --in many cases until curfew, if anyone can figure out how to enforce that...

Who needs to 'fix' that? Parents? Society? Employers?

Quoting Liz_Rocket:

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"?


 

Liz_Rocket
by on Oct. 24, 2013 at 3:44 PM
Quoting LindaClement:

When parents have finished cutting themselves out of their children's lives --no more babysitters, and they're not available at all to have any idea at all what the kids are doing ... I can't see how they can be 'held responsibile.'

Culturally, it once made sense, because there were parents anywhere near their awake children between 9 and 18 years old. Those days appear to be gone.

When children were very first 'at large' when their parents were working (child labour laws taking them out of the factories) parents very logically argued they couldn't possibly be responsible for whatever Dickensian trouble their kids were in while they were working. This is why the cost of public school was considered such a good idea: it enforced confinment for children while their parents were working.

Now that 12yos get to declare themselves 'done' with daycare, and school hours no longer related in any way to work days, the problems arise anew: with (both) parents commuting sometimes hours away from where they live, kids are at large, unsupervised and far beyond anyone's control for a great deal of the day --in many cases until curfew, if anyone can figure out how to enforce that...

Who needs to 'fix' that? Parents? Society? Employers?

Quoting Liz_Rocket:
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"?




We're not talking about control, Linda. We're talking about responsibility. No matter how much the parents "cut themselves out" of their children's lives, they are still responsible for them. In the case of my hypothetical question regarding the 12 year old who broke a window while his parents were at work, do you feel the parents should not be held responsible for damages since they were at work and had no control over their child's actions?
USBrit
by Bronze Member on Oct. 24, 2013 at 4:09 PM

If the child had a mental illness, had made real threats, talked about killing people, then perhaps the parents "may" have some responsibility "if" the gun was somewhere where he had access. However, if none of those things existed, or were NOT known to the parents. NO! They should not be responsible. We can NOT hold someone else responsible for acts of another. We all know that kids are getting younger and younger with seeing violence, sex, and the like, more parents are overwhelmed with having to both work a job, maybe two. I am not making excuses, I am just saying that as a society, we need to decide how our children are going to grow in a safe and healthy environment. Heck, even the commercials are racey these days....what do we expect these children to think when they are bombarded with all these things?

LindaClement
by Thatwoman on Oct. 24, 2013 at 5:40 PM

How can you be 'responsible' for something you have absolutely no way of having any control over?

How can you be responsible for what you cannot start, stop or slow down?

Quoting Liz_Rocket:

Quoting LindaClement:

When parents have finished cutting themselves out of their children's lives --no more babysitters, and they're not available at all to have any idea at all what the kids are doing ... I can't see how they can be 'held responsibile.'

Culturally, it once made sense, because there were parents anywhere near their awake children between 9 and 18 years old. Those days appear to be gone.

When children were very first 'at large' when their parents were working (child labour laws taking them out of the factories) parents very logically argued they couldn't possibly be responsible for whatever Dickensian trouble their kids were in while they were working. This is why the cost of public school was considered such a good idea: it enforced confinment for children while their parents were working.

Now that 12yos get to declare themselves 'done' with daycare, and school hours no longer related in any way to work days, the problems arise anew: with (both) parents commuting sometimes hours away from where they live, kids are at large, unsupervised and far beyond anyone's control for a great deal of the day --in many cases until curfew, if anyone can figure out how to enforce that...

Who needs to 'fix' that? Parents? Society? Employers?

Quoting Liz_Rocket:
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"?




We're not talking about control, Linda. We're talking about responsibility. No matter how much the parents "cut themselves out" of their children's lives, they are still responsible for them. In the case of my hypothetical question regarding the 12 year old who broke a window while his parents were at work, do you feel the parents should not be held responsible for damages since they were at work and had no control over their child's actions?


Liz_Rocket
by on Oct. 24, 2013 at 6:13 PM
Quoting LindaClement:

How can you be 'responsible' for something you have absolutely no way of having any control over?

How can you be responsible for what you cannot start, stop or slow down?

Quoting Liz_Rocket:
Quoting LindaClement:

When parents have finished cutting themselves out of their children's lives --no more babysitters, and they're not available at all to have any idea at all what the kids are doing ... I can't see how they can be 'held responsibile.'

Culturally, it once made sense, because there were parents anywhere near their awake children between 9 and 18 years old. Those days appear to be gone.

When children were very first 'at large' when their parents were working (child labour laws taking them out of the factories) parents very logically argued they couldn't possibly be responsible for whatever Dickensian trouble their kids were in while they were working. This is why the cost of public school was considered such a good idea: it enforced confinment for children while their parents were working.

Now that 12yos get to declare themselves 'done' with daycare, and school hours no longer related in any way to work days, the problems arise anew: with (both) parents commuting sometimes hours away from where they live, kids are at large, unsupervised and far beyond anyone's control for a great deal of the day --in many cases until curfew, if anyone can figure out how to enforce that...

Who needs to 'fix' that? Parents? Society? Employers?

Quoting Liz_Rocket:
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"?




We're not talking about control, Linda. We're talking about responsibility. No matter how much the parents "cut themselves out" of their children's lives, they are still responsible for them. In the case of my hypothetical question regarding the 12 year old who broke a window while his parents were at work, do you feel the parents should not be held responsible for damages since they were at work and had no control over their child's actions?




If someone had an animal they couldn't control and it hurt someone or destroyed property, the owner would still be responsible. If someone couldn't control losing their job, they'd still be responsible for paying their bills. There's quite a few things in life we are resposible for that we have no control over.

The scenario involving the child breaking a window and the responsibility of the parents for restitution is really just a yes or no question, Linda. You seem to have a great deal of difficulty answering it.

I will pose it again. If a child breaks a neighbors window while his parents are at work, do you feel the parents would be reasonable in refusing to fix it since they were at work and had no control over their child's actions?
LindaClement
by Thatwoman on Oct. 24, 2013 at 11:39 PM

If you own a bull and you don't fence it in, yes, it is your responsibility to pay for 100% of the damage it does to anyone or anything.

It isn't 'really' a yes or no question because, as much as you'd like to oversimplify the issue, it's complex.

It's complex because we're not talking about stupid animals that can't open the doors. And because, for better or for worse, society has accepted the long slide into unsupervised, unchaperoned, unwatched and uncontrolled children at large at younger and younger ages ... all with lots of parental guilt/apologia thrown in to make the conversation stop as quickly as possible: but we HAVE to work, but in today's economy, but we have no choice, but everyone does it, but it's supposed to be fine, but I have a long commute, but, but, but....

Yeah: unsupervised children at large, for whatever reason are outside the control of their parents.

If they're allowed out there, who can enforce any kind of responsibility on someone who can't possibly have any control of what happens 'out there'?

Quoting Liz_Rocket:

Quoting LindaClement:

How can you be 'responsible' for something you have absolutely no way of having any control over?

How can you be responsible for what you cannot start, stop or slow down?

Quoting Liz_Rocket:



We're not talking about control, Linda. We're talking about responsibility. No matter how much the parents "cut themselves out" of their children's lives, they are still responsible for them. In the case of my hypothetical question regarding the 12 year old who broke a window while his parents were at work, do you feel the parents should not be held responsible for damages since they were at work and had no control over their child's actions?




If someone had an animal they couldn't control and it hurt someone or destroyed property, the owner would still be responsible. If someone couldn't control losing their job, they'd still be responsible for paying their bills. There's quite a few things in life we are resposible for that we have no control over.

The scenario involving the child breaking a window and the responsibility of the parents for restitution is really just a yes or no question, Linda. You seem to have a great deal of difficulty answering it.

I will pose it again. If a child breaks a neighbors window while his parents are at work, do you feel the parents would be reasonable in refusing to fix it since they were at work and had no control over their child's actions?


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