Parental responsibility

January 13th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The parents or guardians of young people before the courts could have bail conditions imposed on them as well as their children, such as not drinking alcohol and having to reside at a particular address, under a private members’ bill in the name of Northland MP .

I’d be cautious about this.

In many cases of a wayward youth, the parents are a contributing factor. But equally, there are some kids who go off the tracks despite the best parenting and family support possible. Having parents share some liability for what their kids do could set a dangerous precedent.

The Children, Young Persons and Their Families (Parent’s and Guardian’s Responsibility) Amendment Bill would allow the Youth Court to set bail conditions for parents and guardians in a bid to prevent re-offending.

Mr Sabin believed at least half of the responsibility for youth offending was down to adults making sure their children were being properly supervised.

Mr Sabin’s bills have been approved by the National Party caucus for support at first reading should any be drawn from the ballot.

I think it is a worthy debate to have, and if it goes to select committee, would be a good forum for hearing that debate. But the possible precedent does concern me.

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29 Responses to “Parental responsibility”

  1. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    I suppose the Wimp Campbell will have a pro-Labour socialist slant on this topic tonight. He is one for passing the blame away from parents and onto taxpayers . . . he will love it!

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  2. Harriet (4,969 comments) says:

    Very dangerous.

    The State would have to be convinced beyond doubt that the parents were also at fault of a crime – in this case child neglect – before they could impose such sanctions. Children merely ‘running off’ and stealing stuff on Saturday night is not good enough to impose penalties on parents.

    Smacking is also going to raise it’s head in this arguement.

    Totalatarian stuff really.

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  3. Nigel Kearney (1,013 comments) says:

    We shouldn’t be micro-managing how parents raise their kids. It should be easier for bad parents to have their kids taken off them, but before that stage is reached parents should just be offered help but allowed to make their own choices.

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  4. Joanne (177 comments) says:

    I think the structures are there regarding CYF. The law needs to be strengthened.

    Dad was a policeman, Mum an accountant. All but one sibling lead contributing lives. That one sibling went off the rails at 13 and is still not back on at 49. Both parents did absolutely everything for the child..

    What about the turn around. Some kids do really well in the face of parents who have terrible parenting skills. Putting politics aside, John Banks is one of those kids.

    The saying goes some parents have a bad kid and bad parents will have a good kid.

    I don’t think Mike Sabin has the answer quite.

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  5. iMP (2,385 comments) says:

    the State has effectively taken away what few tools parents really have (like smacking; parents are not even advised if their child has an abortion – “privacy”)). At the end of the day, if a rebel youth just says stuff you and is off, how can we possibly hold parents responsible? Granny State can’t have it both ways. She has dis-sempowered parents for so long, now they want to punish us?

    Like you DPF,I know lots of excellent parents with kids gone bad. It is often a phase, and they return as coherent thoughtful adults later.

    If we are going to hassle parents, will the same censure apply to teachers, ministers of the Crown, CYFs, etc for their culpability too?

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  6. Albert_Ross (292 comments) says:

    It seems the Bill would /allow/ courts to set conditions for the parents of offending children. Not /require/. So the courts would need to decide, on the merits of each case, whether some form of action regarding the parents was appropriate.

    That seems to me to be an improvement on having no option between doing nothing at all about the parents on the one hand, and taking the children away from them on the other. In most cases neither response is proportionate or appropriate to the individual circumstances.

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  7. RRM (9,919 comments) says:

    Punish the parents for the misdeeds of the child?

    Sounds a bit North Korean…?!

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  8. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    Apparently Mr Sabin hasn’t heard of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, because his bill breaches that in a couple of areas.

    The State is entitled to set bail conditions for people accused of crimes who are currently before the Courts, but putting restrictions on the liberty of people who are not accused of an offence simply because of who they are related to seems a dangerous precedent to set.

    Albert_Ross, it is irrelevant whether the Court must or may set conditions restricting the liberty of persons not accused of an offence. The mere suggestion it might is repugnant.

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  9. RRM (9,919 comments) says:

    On the other hand I think I can partially see his point – why do we have lesser punishments for juvenile offenders, than adults?

    Isn’t it because children are deemed to be still learning how to be adult members of society, and therefore shouldn’t be treated so harshly when they transgress?

    So if something bad is done, and it isn’t really the offender’s responsibility because s/he was a child, then whose responsibility is it? No-one’s?

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  10. Nick R (507 comments) says:

    Good intention, terrible idea. Why stop with parents? Shouldn’t bail conditions be extended to schools, local councils, extended whanau, WINZ offices, the Ministry of Education and DHBs? They all have a role to play of some sort in kids’ health and well-being. Hell, you could even argue that parents’ employers should be subject to conditions to ensure that parents’ employment doesn’t interfere with their ability to monitor their children.

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  11. kowtow (8,463 comments) says:

    Yep ,if Notional were so concerned about parental responsibility for the actions of wee ratbags why did they deny parents the ability,in our unique role,to discipline the little fuckers in the first place.

    It’s ironic that the state now wants even more intrusive powers to intervene having removed parental duty / responsibilities….

    and it was the same with the fucken wowser shit of banning corporal punishment at school etc etc

    As the Good and Holy Book says ; you reap as you sow.

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  12. backster (2,171 comments) says:

    Mike is too young to be aware of it but in the 60s there was such a provision in the then Child Welfare Act. The charge was ‘ being the parents of a child (under 17) that was not under proper control. It was used frequently almost as a matter of course for juvenile offences and it was effective because the natural discipline subsequently dished out by the parents deterred further offending.
    As someone else commented the State has now effectively taken over the duties of parents by banning corporal punishment at home and school, arranging abortions without parental knowledge of consent. Allowing out of control young teens to live outside the home, devaluing the family unit, and a host of other ‘welfare?’ reforms…Good luck Mike.

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  13. Chuck Bird (4,883 comments) says:

    I emailed Mike Sabin asking for a copy of his bill. I got an auto reply saying he will be out of the office and will not be responding to emails until later in January 2014. The message said his elaborate office is now open so hopefully I will get a copy of the bill.

    FFS, Do you you have a copy of the bill? It seems you might as you say it breaches the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.

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  14. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    The charge was ‘ being the parents of a child (under 17) that was not under proper control.

    And if the parents are charged with an offence of such a nature then Court imposing bail conditions is absolutely fine.  However, to restrict the liberty of a person because of something done by their offspring is an appalling idea.

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  15. jp_1983 (213 comments) says:

    @Chuck Bird
    http://www.parliament.nz/resource/0001725121

    You can download the .pdf

    Cheers

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  16. Chuck Bird (4,883 comments) says:

    @jp, thanks for that. Mike told me he would soon send me a copy so I will let him know I have one. I will also suggest he looks at Kiwiblog.

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  17. jp_1983 (213 comments) says:

    For all the other private members bills.
    http://www.parliament.nz/en-nz/pb/legislation/proposed-bills/

    this will help

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  18. Chuck Bird (4,883 comments) says:

    Thanks again. That is very useful link.

    I just got another response from Mike Sabin with his other bills which I might copy and I will try and get him to debate the merits of his bill on KB.

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  19. Albert_Ross (292 comments) says:

    F E Smith, is it your contention that nobody should be held accountable or suffer consequences (except the victims. of course) for behaviour in children which would be classified as criminal if done by an adult?

    What exactly do you see as the difference between (a) charging, and imposing bail conditions on, a parent for “being the parent of a child out of control” and (b) restricting the liberty of a person “because of something done by their offspring”?

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  20. Harriet (4,969 comments) says:

    Well said iMP @ 2:22

    “…….Granny State can’t have it both ways. She has dis-sempowered parents for so long, now they want to punish us?……..

    Are teachers, CYF, sports coaches, EMPLOYERS ect going to be held to the same account?…….”

    Fuck knows what they are trying to do by disempowering parents as no one else has the time to deal with the poor results. And it’s not their role anyway.

    This idea of parents being held accountable is fucken stupid – being supported is a better option. WFF supports them, smacking supports them – but teachers telling kids that they have ‘freedom to do what they like’ does not.

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  21. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    is it your contention that nobody should be held accountable or suffer consequences (except the victims. of course) for behaviour in children which would be classified as criminal if done by an adult?

    No, that is not what I said at all.

    What exactly do you see as the difference between (a) charging, and imposing bail conditions on, a parent for “being the parent of a child out of control”

    Mr Sabin’s bill does not allow the parents to be charged with any offence.  It would allow the Court to require the parents to observe various conditions, potentially including a residence condition, a curfew, an order not to consume alcohol, not to associate with particular persons, or anything else the Court considers necesary to ensure the ongoing safety of the defendant child or young person.

    I repeat, there is no criminal action being taken against the parents at all.  If a person is accused of a criminal offence then bail conditions are appropriate, but that is not what is being proposed in this instance.

    and (b) restricting the liberty of a person “because of something done by their offspring”?

    Which means exactly what it says.  I think that requiring a parent to abide with residence condition, or a curfew, because of something their child has done is appalling.

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  22. Chuck Bird (4,883 comments) says:

    Not to often I give FES a thumbs up but I do in this case.

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  23. Albert_Ross (292 comments) says:

    So F E Smith what you are saying is that you want there to be a criminal offence for parents if their children do something that would be regarded as criminal if they were adults?

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  24. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    Hell, I have just noticed that the moron wants to abolish the right to silence in criminal matters. Ok, only in matters relating to kids, but that won’t last long.

    My worry is that the Nats are just the sort of party to adopt such legislation. The only party more likely to support it is Labour!

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  25. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    So F E Smith what you are saying is that you want there to be a criminal offence for parents if their children do something that would be regarded as criminal if they were adults?

    What are you, stupid?  Or do you just twist words to suit your own agenda?

    Again, that is not what I said.

    I said if there was such an offence then the imposition of bail conditions would be justified.  Nowhere in there was anything that suggests that I would support such a law.

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  26. Paulie (1 comment) says:

    I take it you love the Chris Kahui defense.

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  27. wrightingright (143 comments) says:

    The only logical reasonably way I can see this possibly being ok, if the conditions are fairly done across everybody and all ages, for instance for a person (of any age) to be bailed to an address the owner has to promise it will be kept alcohol free.

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  28. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    the owner has to promise it will be kept alcohol free.

    And that they will observe a curfew.  And they won’t move house without obtaining the Court’s approval. And will not contact certain people…

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  29. freethinker (691 comments) says:

    This is an excellent idea worthy of implementation after a suitable pilot to demonstrate its effectiveness. I suggest a 5 year pilot making MPs personally and financially responsible for any and all adverse results of legislation they voted for with a binding referendum on any disputed decision of a court drawn from those falsely accused by Winz/IRD/POlice etc.

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