Legislating for Parental Responsibility. I read with interest this story from
I remember Fitzroy Bryant of St Kitts. He was the Minister of Education in 1975 when I was a young lawyer practising in
The way Fitzroy explained it would work was like this. Anyone seeing a child of school age on the street during school hours was encouraged to report the incident. The police would drive to the spot and pick up the child. They would find out if the child had written permission from the school principal to be out of school. If the child did not, he or she was taken to the police station and made to sit on the bench. The parent or guardian would be called to the station. He or she would be warned. The second time, there would be a more severe warning. The third time there would be a final warning. The fourth time was evidence of persistence. Now, the parent or guardian had some explaining to do. They cannot say they did not know their child was a persistent truant. They had received enough notice. They had plenty of time to work on finding out what was the child’s problem, and taking ameliorative action. It is this failure that was to be the offence. They would receive a summons to appear before the Magistrate. The Magistrate could fine or send to prison. Needless to say, no one expected a parent to be fined or imprisoned. Fitzroy’s hope was that the shock and shame would be sufficient. The parents would put that child under such heavy manners that future truancy would be out of the question. Did it work? I never heard that it did not.
So, there is nothing in principle wrong about making a parent liable for an offence when the child is persistently committing criminal acts. Presumably, it would not apply to the first instance of criminal conduct. Perhaps, not even to the second. But, a child doing criminal damage or criminal injury or engaging in any criminal conduct for a third time?
If the parent was liable for jail time, I guarantee you the third time would never happen. It would help if there was provision for counseling in life skills and civic responsibility before the third occasion. But, there can be no denying that it is what happens or does not happen in the home that decides whether or not a child grows up to be a pillar of society or a cancer on the body civic.
Is it time for us in Anguilla to contact the