Monday, September 19, 2016

Where are your children?

Another ostrich hiding their head in the sand
Picture it.  You're unconscious laying in bed.  Dead to the world, you are dreaming of pink clouds and unicorns.  Well, I don't dream about pink clouds and unicorns, but you might. Anyway, around 2AM you get a knock on the door and find two police officers standing there.  Seems, they tell you, your son has been involved in a shooting and he is dead.  My son? Not my son.  My son is safe in his bed.  My son would not be out at all hours.  My son... 

Scary scenario, to be sure, but it's happening more and more.  Just today, I received a notice on my cell phone about yet another homicide of a 17-year-old kid who was gunned down at 1:12AM in a church parking lot of all places.  What I want to know is where were the parents in all this?  Did they know their kid was out after curfew?  I'm betting this isn't the first time kid was out past midnight so, where is the liability of allowing a kid to be out at all hours of the night?!?

Turns out, there are a number of states that have laws to prosecute parents and guardians who fail to supervise kids under their charge.  Under California Penal Code section 272(a)(1):
Every person who commits any act or omits the
performance of any duty, which act or omission causes or tends to cause or encourage any person under the age of 18 years ... to so live as would cause or manifestly tend to cause that person to become or to remain a person within the provisions of Section 300, 601, or 602 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or by both fine and imprisonment in a county jail, or may be released on
probation for a period not exceeding five years.
For reference Section 300 of the California Welfare & Institutions Code defines Children subject to Juvenile Court Jurisdiction, Section 601 defines minors who are habitually disobedient or truant (i.e. stay out after curfew), and Section 602 defines laws which, if committed by a person under 18 years of age, makes them wards of the court.

While there are parents out there in parental land who say they can't control their kids; that they aren't responsible if their kids are out late or commit crimes, that's just not true. Acting like an ostrich will not (and/or should not) absolve a parent of liability and saying you didn't see it doesn't make the problem go away.

What is the line, see a problem, fix the problem.  If you think your kid is out of control, seek help.  Do not do as the ostrich and look the other way.  Stand up and seek assistance for your kids.  In the very least, when they're being carted off to prison, they can't say you didn't try.