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Captain_Fantasy's avatar

At what point are the parents legally accountable for the actions of their kids who get high on drugs?

Asked by Captain_Fantasy (11431points) March 12th, 2010

It seems whenever there’s a story in the paper about a kid on drugs who did something terrible, there’s almost an immediate public outcry damning the parents and demanding legal action.
So when a 16 year old goes out and gets high on meth and kills 3 people with his car, should the parents be prosecuted?

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18 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I think the child/teen should be prosecuted, not the parents BUT some parents in some of these situations should be held responsible.

Snarp's avatar

A parent doesn’t really have enough control over a 16 year old to be reasonably prosecuted. If it could be proved that the parent knew the kid was using drugs and knew that they were a danger, but did not take reasonable precautions to keep them from having access to a car that they owned, then maybe there’s a case, but that seems like a pretty high hurdle.

Now if they kill someone with dad’s gun that wasn’t kept locked up in the house, then I say prosecute the dad for negligent homicide.

hug_of_war's avatar

Sorry but high schoolers in my opinion are just too old and independant to directly blame the parents.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Sixteen-year-olds using meth is pretty damned irresponsible. At that point in their lives they should still be happy with beer and marijuana, and maybe experimenting with cocaine.

lilikoi's avatar

It’s not like the three people that got in his car didn’t have a choice or a brain.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@lilikoi except for the one in the trunk, maybe.

Ivan's avatar


16 year olds using beer, marijuana, and cocaine are responsible, but meth crosses the line?

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@Ivan no, I should have explained better: their parents are irresponsible for letting them get into the meth. Thanks for giving me the chance to clarify.

Ivan's avatar


You still didn’t clarify whether you think parents are irresponsible for letting their children use beer, marijuana, and cocaine.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@Ivan… and I probably won’t; it would seem foolish to try to defend that, and if you think I really would, then it would be even more foolish to say (to you) “just kidding!” So what I’ve already said is probably all that I ever will say.

Until I say something else.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I think things like this have to be judged on a case by case basis, because there are a lot of things to consider. Say a child went out and did what you described, but they were out way past curfew. In that case, I think the parents are absolutely responsible to some degree because it’s up to them to keep their child inside during curfew. If a child went out with friends in the middle of the day, on the other hand? Eh… It becomes iffier if the parents should be held completely responsible. There are also other things to consider. Some parents know their children do drugs and don’t care or choose not to do anything about it. In that case, the parents should be held fully responsible. Definitely not a black and white issue.

Just_Justine's avatar

You get fantastic successful kids and kids who take drugs coming from the same family. I think in short you are blaming the parents. Like @DrasticDreamer said it is an individual issue. Some parents should be prosecuted the way they behave some parents just fight a losing battle.

YARNLADY's avatar

I believe the law had parents responsible for damages caused by minors, but whether they can be prosecuted or not depends on their level of involvement in it. If the child obtained illegal substances through the parents or the parent contacts, yes. If the child went out on his own and found access, then the adult responsible for that should be.

davidbetterman's avatar

Parents are legally responsible for the actions of their children until said children have reached the legal age of adulthood. (18 -21 in the Us, depending upon which State you reside in).
However, this is merely financial responsibility in terms of tortious conduct. Parents do not have to serve time for their murderous children.

filmfann's avatar

Having had a daughter who got deep into meth manufacturing, sales, and use, I will tell you to cut a break to the parents. It’s fiercly difficult to deal with and/or control teens.

YARNLADY's avatar

@filmfann I sorry for your anguish Is it possible there was an adult that should be prosecuted for this travesty?

filmfann's avatar

@YARNLADY We were worried sick they would try!

YARNLADY's avatar

@filmfann I meant the adult that actually supplied the materials and got her into it, not the parents.

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