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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Having a kid work off a debt would be indentured servitude or not?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26798points) March 21st, 2011

If some parents have a son who is a bit of a loose cannon and he in some bored prank damages the home and vehicle of an elderly man in the neighborhood. To get the man not to call the cops or get the insurance companies involved they agree that their son will work off the damages at the rate of $8.00 an hour. If the damages to the vehicle was estimated (medium) $1,200 and damage to the house $412 that would mean the kid would have to work off more then $1,500. Even if he worked his tail off most weekends he would still take a long time to even up with “gramps”. Would it not be like a form of indentured servitude? And could the parents legally enter into such an agreement or should the old man just have made a police report and had his or got the boy’s folk’s insurance to pay, and if the county or whatever wanted to punish the boy it would be up to them?

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11 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

The parents are legally responsible for the entire amount of the damages incurred by a minor child. Any other arrangements made to pay or work off the damages are entirely between the parties involved, and the child can refuse to do the work.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Since the parents are legally and financially responsible for the damage caused by their minor children, they can in fact enter into this agreement with another adult. Causing damage to the property of others is not a right. Inconveniencing a child to provide consequences for their actions is a far better way of dealing with the situation than grounding them or taking away their allowance. The parents did not cause the damage, the child did, and did so deliberately by deciding the prank was a good idea.

A high school classmate of my daughter’s was arrested for tagging garages and businesses in our area. He spent the better part of a summer painting 50 garage doors off alleys and the walls of about 20 buildings. It was that or juvie and his parents having to pay $6,000. He hasn’t tagged since. It was a much better lesson than going to juvie.

12Oaks's avatar

Not in the least.

rooeytoo's avatar

Must be a nice, trusting old man. How is the kid going to fix his damaged car or the house. What guarantee does the old man have that the kid won’t just goof off or cause more damage than he has already done. If it were my property that had been damaged I would have wanted payment from the parents up front, then they can punish their child any way they wish. But I would not participate in trying to get this kid back on the straight and narrow at my own expense.

If it were my kid involved, I would pay off the old man so that he was not inconvenienced then deal with the kid on my own. But if he is already bullying old people, doesn’t seem like the parents must have been doing too good a job from the get go

Seaofclouds's avatar

I think it all depends on the age of the child and what work the child would be doing. For example, my son is 9, if he were to break a neighbors window or something, we would pay for it and then our son would pay us back. If he had enough money saved up, he’d pay with that, if not, he’d be doing his chores and a few extra ones without getting his allowance for that month or however long until he paid us back.

marinelife's avatar

I think it would teach the boy a valuable set of lessons:

1. Actions have consequences.

2. The cost of damage and things means not to take damaging something lightly.

3. Consequences can be long lasting.

Note: I don’t think 8.00 an hour is a fair rate for his labor. I would make it $10.00 an hour.

BarnacleBill's avatar

@marinelife, $8 is more than minimum wage. My daughter’s 21, working full time and makes $8. She would be thrilled to death to make $10.

Supacase's avatar

Federal minimum wage is $7.25. The highest state min. wage is $8.67 in Washington. I think $8.00 is more than fair.

At $8/hour, he would pay off $1500 by working just over 15 hours a week for 12 weeks. I think. Sounds like the perfect summer job.

Ron_C's avatar

This country was founded on indentured servitude and slavery. Fortunately, outright slavery has ended but what would you call a college graduate that has to work off a $50,000 debt? When you add the fact that most health insurance is provided by employers, the present employee/employer relationship is just another form of indentured servitude.

We can only be a free society when we have a health system that is independent of employers and an education system that is free to all. Otherwise we will always be stymied by and held creatively captive by our “feudal lords”.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Ron_C We can only be a free society when we have a health system that is independent of employers and an education system that is free to all. We could have that, we should have that. In the US you but have to look at where the money goes to really see the priorities. Society will much rather see the money spent on the military and the many wars we seem to be willing to wage needlessly, prisons, California alone as more than 30! When I think of how many are in other states, we could have the most in the free world. I would gander we were second only to the Soviet Union, and I am not even sure of that. Maybe China has more, but I doubt it. We don’t spend the money needed so everyone has near the same access to health care, nor do we spend the money on education even while saying education is the key to success, it really isn’t, but it sounds good. John Q- has been bamboozled, sometimes I wonder if he made it easy for the powers that be to do it to him.

Ron_C's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I travel to China quite frequently, the police don’t even carry weapons, just a nightstick. I suspect they may have about as many prisons but they also have three times the population. They also have a school system determined to make their children the most educated in the world. In fact, in many ways, they are more free than us after the Patriot Act.

We spend more money on our military than all the nations of the world combined. We have more people in prison than any “advanced” country.

We probably beat only Russia in terms of the general safety on our streets. The problem with Russia is they jumped from one dictator to another without the opportunity to learn common honesty and see theft and prostitution as one of the few ways the poor can get ahead in their lives. It is too bad because they have a great potential as a country. The irony is that the U.S. is becoming more like modern Russia. We have a great disparity in wealth and a government that is working to increase that disparity. When someone suggests that the rich should help repair the problem they created, the person is considered a socialist.

We are well on our way to becoming a very mighty and dangerous third world country with a huge military, great resources, and a population of serfs willing to work and die as their masters command.

I did not join the military to fight for this kind of country.

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