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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Can a teen girl sue her parents for being locked out of the house if she is attacked because of it?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26798points) April 2nd, 2011

If a teen girl who repeatedly violates curfew gets locked out of the house because her parents were at their wits end in trying to get her to obey it by telling her if she comes in after 1am one more time she will be locked out; she ignores the warning and gets locked out and while walking a few blocks over to an aunts house she is attacked, sexually assaulted and beat near to death, can she sue her parents? Is she at fault because she chose to violate the curfew after being warned numerous times or should the parents, in spite of what they say or threaten, have stayed up to let her in or stashed a key somewhere and left the alarm unarmed?

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35 Answers

Judi's avatar

She could sue and s hurry would probably decide percentage of liability. They might find her 70% liable and her parents 30% and give her some award.
You can sue anyone for anything, the question is, will the jury will decide if the suit has mertit, and that all depends on the jury you get.

YARNLADY's avatar

Yes, she can sue, but there is always the possibility that the parents will be put in jail for child endangerment.

She is not at fault in any way, because the parents are responsible for their children until they turn 18, and locking them out is probably illegal.

jca's avatar

Anyone can sue for anything. The question is, will she win?

She may win, and the parents very well may end up putting her in an institution because they decide they can’t handle her, and now they’re at risk of getting in trouble because she won’t listen.

john65pennington's avatar

The law states that parents are only liable to furnish their children a place to live and food on the table. Their daughter created this situation and now we know the end results.

A smart attorney would never take this case.

If the girl is a minor, her parents can sign warrants on the accused rapist.

12Oaks's avatar

If I were the judge, NOT GUILTY!! Hopefully the gal learns a lessons on rules and consequences of knowingly and wittingly breaking rules.

Zaku's avatar

@Judi. No victim is liable for the abuse an attacker does to them!

Parents who lock their daughter out are unfit parents, in my opinion. It’s an unreasonable parental punishment to lock their daughter out. Parental retraining required. The daughter ought to learn how to break into her own house, though. ;-)

And even the idea that the expected or likely consequence of a teenage girl being out of her parental home for the night is that she is liable to be assaulted, is horrible. Fie to the neighbors and community that accepts that! It’s also abominable the attitude that the daughter would be challenged to survive being locked out. Particularly in “the cell phone era”, she ought to be able to find someplace else safe to be, if her parents are being punitive cave trolls in their abuse of their parental authority.

I don’t think the proposed lawsuit would likely fly, however, but it would come down to what the laws are in the jurisdiction.

What should happen is the parents should be trained in how to relate to their daughter effectively.

Coloma's avatar

If a kid continually violates curfews and boundaries a firm stance needs to be taken with clearly defined consequences.

If you arrive home after hours the door will be locked.

After that it is the choice of the child to sit on the porch all night, sleep in the garage, in their car, but, they have a choice and it was their decision to play the power trip game with their parents.

When my daughter was 17 she was being difficult and disrespectful while we were out shopping one day.
I missed a turn to a resteraunt she wanted to go to and she accused me of missing the turn on purpose.

I had had enough of her behavior and I told her to ‘get out’, and I left her in the parking lot of a strip mall on a 105 degree afternoon.

She had her cell phone and I told her ’ call your dad, call a friend, and when you wish to discuss this give me a call.”

Part of becoming a mature adult is taking responsibility for your actions and choices.

Choose to violate curfew, get locked out.
Choose to go wandering across town in the middle of the night and risk something bad happening, a choice, yet again.

So sure, anyone can sue anyone, but, you better think think VERY CAREFULLY about making that choice with your parents.

Bottom line, YOU screwed up, own it, and learn from a very painful lesson.

Maybe the kid in question should of thought of keeping a sleeping bag in their car if they KNOW they are going to blow off their parents reasonable expectations.

Zaku's avatar

@Coloma Yes, adults are responsible for their actions. Learning to be an adult includes learning about consequences. However, some adult parents decide to “teach their children lessons” by making unreasonable rules, threats and consequences, at which point the parents are the ones being inappropriate, and the parents are responsible not just for themselves, but for their children – both the children’s well-being, AND for modeling adult behavior in a positive and instructive way. When the parents start overreacting and playing power games with children, they can fail and justifiably lose the respect of their children. The children then get to learn the hard way that adults frequently behave like children and abuse authority; it’s just too bad that so many children have to learn that from their parents’ childishly righteous misbehavior, often leaving them with no functional adult support nor role models.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Interesting approaches, there seem to be two side of the issue; <A> The parents are responsible for their minor children until they are minors no more and their safety trumps parental rules, <B> The teen is a young adult (and in some ways try to act like it by doing what they want not the parents) and if so earn up to their actions if they go against house rules.

Yes, parents owe a bit of safety to their kids but to what extent? If the parents relent and leave a key, leave a door open, stay up until the youngster come home etc, what is there to curve that behavior? Would the parents not be saying “we have rules but they are like a toothless tiger they have no umph behind them”, and the parent’s fecklessness will cause them problems with their younger children who see the older one getting away with anything? Would leaving a key, the alarm off, or the door open have the potential to place everyone else in the house at peril, compromising their safely behind the one that won’t follow the rules?

If the parents are responsible for anything their kid does to others so they have somewhat the responsibility to keep them safe. I guess provide an alternative if the kid does break curfew and give them extra money to maybe find a motel for the night? If people are responsible for their dogs getting loose at night you’d think they would be more so of any children running loose at night. Maybe the parents should take some classes or get counseling to figure out how they can within the law get their kid to listen, or maybe the whole family needs to get it if they can afford it? Or maybe a alternate penalty for willfully blowing curfew?

Zaku's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Yes, I think education is needed. The reality painted by the scenario comes from a perspective where the world is a dire place full of rapists, parents think they ought to be like tigers, and everyone has poor problem-solving skills. This leaves no room for a healthy, nurturing and instructive parent-child relationship.

I don’t know how much you’re forcing the scenario to meet the problem you’re interested in, and how much you are stumped by the actual scenario, but the analysis you present the situation of curfew rules seems alarmingly out of touch with reality. From a strictly practical point of view, I see many sensible alternatives to locking the kids out for the night, that don’t involve rape or hotels, nor a slippery slope of disrespect for parental rules. But maybe practical solutions to that scenario are not what you’re really interested in here.

What’s scary though is how many parents I’ve seen actually act like these delusional interpretations ARE realistic, and their thinking nonetheless results in them abandoning their children to face perceived danger and abuse, because they can’t think of any better solution.

For example, a parent who wants to set a curfew and have it respected, could consider the other logical consequences of violating the rule, which the child cares about but which won’t endanger anyone. For example, most kids are so addicted to their cell phones that they might be far more in dread that their minutes or texting might be reduced or cut off, or their cool phone replaced with a clunky one without a camera.

Coloma's avatar

I think my point boils down to recognizing that we can only act in the moment at any given time, based on what is actually happening in that moment,and very recent past moments. Therefore, if I fail to set limits and discipline my child because something bad might happen, they, effectively have manipulated me into not having to take responsibility.

Had my daughter been assaulted when I kicked her out of the car I would have been devastated, but…not GUILTY, for acting and correcting a bad behavior in the moment.

Would I have dropped her off in a bad part of town at midnight? Of course not.
But, putting her little smart ass out in the afternoon in a safe area…well….anything could happen, but…I would feel no guilt for my attempt to nip the problem child in the bud.

My daughter knows my number one deal breaker is lack of respect.

We have a great relationship because we are mutually respectful of the other.

Coloma's avatar

Also, obviously, it is an age appropriate thing as well.
I consider a ‘child’ of 15 and over to be fully in charge of their own self responsibility, aware they are making choices every minute.

Face it, the truth is, much after 14–15 you really don’t have much control as a parent, inspite of liking to think so. haha
There may be consequences but, control, nope.

If a kid ( and who hasn’t ) lies to a parent and, for instance, goes out driving illegally and kills someone, while responsible for the damages legally, I don’t see how you can hold them morally responsible when being deceived.

Too many scenarios to debate.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Coloma The reason they are considered minors is because they have not physically developed the mental ability to think and behave like adults. The law recognizes that they are still children.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Zaku
I don’t know how much you’re forcing the scenario to meet the problem you’re interested in, and how much you are stumped by the actual scenario, but the analysis you present the situation of curfew rules seems alarmingly out of touch with reality. I am not trying to mold or break a mold on what or how to handle something like this. Myself I am not the parent of a teen….yet…..so today’s teen parenting I am sure is different from teen parenting in my generation. Certainly how parents handle things in Yemen is different than they would in Brooklyn. Parents are supposed to be in control, not only to provide the kid with clothes, food, medical care etc, but some direction in life as well. But if you have a break in the ranks as a parent you have to do something or risk an all out mutiny.

But maybe practical solutions to that scenario are not what you’re really interested in here. That is my thought: get the rules enforced, do so respectfully to all concerned not make the problem worse by seeming tossing out hollow threats or having rules you can’t or won’t back up. Something that solves those basic things.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

A situation like this is not the time for pointing fingers. The teen is going to need help getting over her physical and emotional wounds, and the parents are going to deal with getting over the “what if” guilt.

Coloma's avatar

@YARNLADY

I agree. However, I think it has be evaluated by individual case.

The older the teenager the more responsibility they should carry.

A 9 or 10 year old being locked out overnight would be more negligent than locking out your rebellious 17 year old.

Of course, if I ran the world…hahaha

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Coloma The older the teenager the more responsibility they should carry. I completely agree. The problem is that some parents do not step up the level of responsibility while the child grows under their care. If parents do not set rules and adhere to them, then they are not really being a good parent.

jca's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central: re: providing money for a kid who misses their curfew, so they can get a hotel room? Are you serious? Otherwise you said good, sensible things….

@Coloma: if the kid killed someone with the car, legally the parent would be responsible, as what is done by a kid under 18 is the responsibility of the parent.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@jca Your first point is right on the money (no pun intended). The second is not necessarily true, at least in the US. If a child under 18, but with a drivers’ licence, causes an accident, it is their fault and goes on their record, not the parents’.

jca's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer : Goes on the record of the driver, yes, so the child is responsible in that way. However, @Coloma said “kills someone and is responsible for the damages legally.” Legally, meaning “money-wise” is the responsibility of the parent, as a child under 18 is not legally responsible for anything.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@jca Got it. Thank-you.

BarnacleBill's avatar

The purpose for having a curfew is to prevent bad things from happening to you. Nothing good happens after 1 am. If you are old enough to go out without a parent, you are old enough to carry your house key. What kid these days doesn’t carry a cell phone? Call the people you were out with to come back and get you, call your aunt to come get you, call your parents, make enough noise to wake up the neighbors so they call the police and they wake up your parents.

No one deserves to be attacked, but plenty of young people are not competent to decide what’s in their best interests, and having something like this happen would be proof that the young person lacks judgement and cannot be trusted to act in their own best interests.

Judi's avatar

@Zaku;
I was not saying the unruly kid was responsible for being attacked, I was talking from a pure liability point of view. The jury would be asked to what extent did the parents decisions lead to the attack and to what extent did the victims decisions lead to the attack. Did the parents know or should have known that their choices would result in the daughters attack. Did the daughter know our should have known that HER choices would lead to the attack. Those are all issues that a jury might be instructed to consider.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@jca re: providing money for a kid who misses their curfew, so they can get a hotel room? Are you serious? Otherwise you said good, sensible things…. It was more a “shoot from the hip” tossing of an idea, any idea since the thought of following through on a warning and locking the front door and setting the alarm didn’t seem to sit well with a lot of people. So, as to not seem like parents that are all bark and no bite or paper tigers who the kid would not listen to, money for a room seem like it might be a better alternative to some even with the double intention that it seems to pay a kid for skipping curfew.

jca's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central: yes, I was referring to it seeming like paying a kid for missing curfew. First of all, most hotels want more than cash to rent a room, they want a credit card. Most would not rent to a teen. And I remember when I was a teen, if all I had to do to get a hotel room was miss my curfew – party time! I’m renting a room and everybody’s welcome!

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@jca First of all, most hotels want more than cash to rent a room, they want a credit card. I guess that depend if they are independent or chain hotels. Around here there are independent hotel that will rent you a room even if you have no I.D.. For them it is “Show me the money!” and you are in for the night.

And I remember when I was a teen, if all I had to do to get a hotel room was miss my curfew – party time! I’m renting a room and everybody’s welcome! Yup, it would be an open party free for all, but some here seem to believe that is still better than having the younget locked out and on the street or in the car. That is the flaw in that, to some it is like taking bad, the hotel room, or worse, the street.

jca's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central: I understand your points, but I don’t see being handed cash to rent a hotel room as punishment that will be effective in preventing similar behavior next time.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@jca I agree, it ceratainly will not, but to some I guess it is the better of two evils.

jca's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central: what I am trying to say is that I think it would actually encourage the behavior it’s meant to prevent. It’s like, “so if I break my curfew you’re going to hand me $100?”

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@jca I am almost sure it would, just have if the door was left open or the key stashed somewhere, the thought will be “I miss curfew party at the motel y’all, bring some brew!” Or it will be -“It won’t matter if I miss curfew the key will be under the bamboo pot anyhow, so sure, we can go by so-in-so“_ The parents can rest their mind their daughter was not “out there” expose to anyone who would make merchandise of them all while causing more of what they want to prevent. If it was to happen it would just be in a motel room and not by being dragged into the bushes or between some dumpsters.

YARNLADY's avatar

Am I missing something here? I thought a curfew was to make sure the child got home early to keep her safe. I don’t get the locking out part. If she can just stay out anyway, then why have a curfew?

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@YARNLADY Am I missing something here? I thought a curfew was to make sure the child got home early to keep her safe. I don’t get the locking out part. If she can just stay out anyway, then why have a curfew? What you missed I guess is the notion of enforcing a penalty of repeated deliberate missed curfew by locking her out if it was warned would happen if she deliberately missed one more time. The idea is not to have her in a way or dispensation where she can be attacked. She can’t be out but refuses to come back on time is the main problem.

Zaku's avatar

YARNLADY points out a great example of the flaw of parents trapped inside their own thinking as they try to enforce and punish. So the wise adult punishment for staying out too late is… being forced to stay out all night? Cool! Develops acting skills so as to be “punished” in this way as much as possible. Kind of like when I was a teen, and the oh so smart PE teacher would “punish” me for disliking PE, by throwing me out of PE! Woot! The principal though that was a hoot too, and handed me one of his joke books to keep myself entertained until the PE period was over.

jca's avatar

@Zaku: ....and as I was pointing out to @Hypocrisy_Central, not just stay out all night but get handed about $100 to stay in a hotel! Who would ever go home?

Zaku's avatar

@ica Yes. Or just say I had to stay at a hotel, but it was so useful to have the money to save my life from all those attackers, meanwhile just pocketing the money and/or using it to buy whatever I wanted. Maybe save up money to move out with.

In other words, either move backfires.

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