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Viability of Parental Accountability: Perceptions of Key Juvenile Justice Workers in Two Southern States

NCJ Number
Journal for Juvenile Justice Services Volume: 19 Issue: 1, 2 Dated: 2004 Pages: 85-98
Kate Warner Ph.D.; Joanna Bruni Cannon Ph.D.
Date Published
14 pages
This study examined juvenile justice personnel's perceptions of laws that impose legal liability on parents for the delinquency of their children.
Parental accountability laws permit a broad spectrum of consequences for parents of delinquents, including parenting classes, family therapy, community service, fines, suspension of driver's licenses, eviction from public housing, and even imprisonment. The current exploratory research examined the perceptions of such parental accountability held by juvenile justice personnel in Georgia and Florida. Questionnaires were sent to juvenile judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and administrators. Out of 746 surveys mailed, 173 completed questionnaires were returned (25-percent response rate). Although low, researchers deemed the response rate sufficient for exploratory research. Key research questions solicited opinions on the relationship between parenting, responsibility, and delinquency, as well as whether parental accountability laws show promise. The findings were similar to the attitudes identified in the literature review of parental accountability laws. Respondents believed there was a strong relationship between parenting and delinquency. More than 80 percent believed that at least some of the responsibility for delinquency lies with parents; however, many of the respondents, while viewing parental accountability as a reasonable policy, were uneasy about sanctioning parents for their children's delinquent behavior. There were concerns expressed about the unintended outcomes, fairness, and the logistics of implementing parental accountability laws. Issues to consider in framing and assessing parental accountability policies are discussed. 29 references