Why parents must be held more accountable and responsible. I was talking to the unmarried father of an 8 year old boy recently. He has a problem with the mother of his child. Every time he brings the child back to the mother after he has spent the weekend with him, the mother locks the child out of the house. She refuses to let him back in the house until he cries and begs to her satisfaction. She screams abuse at the child constantly. He has tried to get the Department of Social Development to help him, but there is nothing they can do under our present legal system. There is nothing the police or the court can do. There is no legal remedy. The mother has all the ‘rights’ and the father only has ‘obligations’. His concern is that the lack of love and affection is going to turn his child into a criminal one of these days. He is so right.
The present serious juvenile crime situation in
That is why some social reformers advocate holding parents responsible. We need to put more pressure on parents to perform their parenting role. It should be backed up with educational programmes on how to be a good father and good mother. It always amazes me how many parents do not begin to understand how destructive their example and behaviour is. Then, when we point the finger at them, they respond by saying it is unfair. No, it is not unfair.
If a mother or father persistently permits their child to be a truant from school, that ought to be a crime on the part of the parent.
If a mother or father persistently permits their child to mix with gangsters, that ought to be a crime on the part of the parent.
If a mother or father persistently permits their child to bear arms and offensive weapons in the home, that ought to be a crime on the part of the parent.
The object is not to punish the parent. The object is to convince the parent that he or she needs to do more to monitor and supervise the behaviour and acquaintances of their child.
The result will not be a flooding of our jail with delinquent parents. The Magistrate will make an example of one or two, and suddenly attitudes will change.
It is not the fine or the jail that is the wake up call. It is being brought before the court and named and shamed that is the effective part of prosecuting a social crime. We have to face reality as a society and take active steps to break the cycle of child abuse and negligent parenting.
Of course, if we were rich like the Americans or the British, we could try doing like them and throwing lots of money at the problem. I don't see that working for them, and we certainly can’t make that a solution here.
Just my thoughts, while I thank God every day that I am not a parent myself.