Bad Parental Behavior

Juvenile Criminal Law | Criminal Defense Attorney in Tampa

Image courtesy of Barnett, Howard & Williams, PLLC

Maryland resident, Cornella Rookard, drove her armed 14 y.o. son to confront another boy.  The teen fired several times at the intended victim from the backseat of his mother’s vehicle with a shotgun.  He was later charged with attempted murder.  His mother was charged with assault, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and reckless endangerment [1].

We assume parents will raise their children to become good citizens, and teach them right from wrong.  Unfortunately, that assumption is often mistaken.

Parental Impact

Parents have enormous impact on the behavior of their children.  Parental interest and encouragement can increase a child’s self-esteem, motivation, and interest in school [2].  The reverse is, also, however, true.

Children who are rejected by their parents, who are inadequately supervised or grow up amid conflict run the highest risk of delinquency [3A].  Where parents are, themselves, involved in criminal activity, that risk increases exponentially [3B].

Absent Fathers

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5: 8).

It may be painful to hear.  But the absence of a father from the home is considered the single most important cause of crime [4].  Boys who do not share a home with their fathers after the age of 10 y.o. – 14 y.o. are twice as likely to be jailed as those from intact homes.  Boys fatherless from birth are three times as likely to be jailed.

This is not intended to cast aspersions on single or divorced mothers.  It is simply to point out that fathers serve a purpose above and beyond procreation (a concept that seems lost on our society).

Parental Liability

“Parents may be held liable for their juvenile child’s crimes, depending on the state.  Some states maintain Parental Accountability or Parental Responsibility Laws which hold parents responsible for any crimes committed by their child.  The reasoning behind such laws is that parents have a legal duty to supervise and prevent their children from committing crimes and becoming delinquent citizens [5].”

In California, parents can be held liable for any “willful misconduct causing injury, death or property damage” by a minor under the age of 18 [6A].  In Louisiana, parents are liable for any damage caused by a child, without regard to their financial exposure [6B].  In New Jersey, parents may be liable for a child’s acts, though only for damage to school property, public utilities, or railroads [6C].  Financial responsibility is capped at $5,000.

“…[P]arental accountability… [can] take the form of ‘parenting classes, family therapy, community service, fines, suspension of driver’s licenses, eviction from public housing and even imprisonment’.  All of these interventions penalize parents for their teen’s actions for which the latter are legally considered responsible…

Emphasizing parental accountability may not create the desired effect on their teenagers’ case outcomes or realistically be achievable…[S]upporters of the deterrence approach view these accountability measures as fostering better parenting, which in turn discourages delinquency.  On the other hand…studies citing favorable outcomes for these programs do not include the high drop-out rate of families…

…[A]ccountability measures from fees to imprisonment…effectively ignore the social problems such as poverty or disadvantaged neighborhoods that affect parents’ ability to be accountable and further weaken families that are dysfunctional… [7].”

A Firm Foundation

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children…” (Deut. 6: 6-7).

Parents are intended to provide their children a firm moral and ethical foundation.  There may be legitimate reasons they cannot fully do this.  However, when that foundation is undermined by bad parental behavior, children suffer the consequences.  That is, in effect, another form of child abuse.

[1]  WBOC,  “Boy, 14, Arrested for Attempted Murder in Cambridge Shooting”, 12/3/20,

[2]  Public School Review, “Parental Involvement Is Key to Student’s Success” by Grace Chen, 10/10/20,

[3A and 3B]  Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinqency Prevention, “Family Life and Delinquency and Crime”,

[4]  Marripedia, “Effects of Parents on Crime Rates”,

[5]  LegalMatch, “Parental Responsibility for Juvenile Crime” by Travis Peeler, 6/25/20,

[6A, 6B, and 6D]  Nolo, “Parental Responsibility Laws and Personal Injury”,

[7]  Sage Journals, “Good parents, bad parents:  Rethinking family involvement in juvenile justice” by Leslie Paik,  6/7/16,



Filed under Child Abuse, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Law, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Poverty, Religion, Sexual Abuse

18 responses to “Bad Parental Behavior

  1. The text against the green background is quite hard to read, a lighter background allowing a greater level of contrast with the black text would be helpful.

  2. Remember when Dan Quayle was castigated in the media for dissing single motherhood ala Murphy Brown? Whatever one thinks of his politics, he had that one right.

  3. We have to agree with your statistically proven conclusions on need for father figure, and the often poor outcome when not achieved. So many of us mothers are divorced who tell ourselves “his fault” and think ourselves somehow exempt from distancing maneuvers for child and dad. The subject mother’s actions are of course, beyond understanding, just that, it seems to me, we are allowing the notion that women/children don’t need men to permeate our sense. The common denominator is making the fringes worse.

  4. Francisco Bravo Cabrera

    Bad examples create bad behaviour and parents are to blame first and foremost for the behaviour of their children. I recall, during my life as a D.S. in Miami-Dade County, that the worst juveniles I ever dealt with came from homes where the parents were much worse than they were. It never failed, when I went to their houses I would be met with resistance, drunken behaviour, parents high on drugs and/or that they could care less what happened to their child. How can a child have a chance to grow up as a decent, law-abiding, healthy adult if he/she lives in an environment of violence, neglect, alcohol and drugs? People learn from observing others. Children learn from observing the relevant adults in their world. Violence is now rampant in the US. I just heard of another shooting where three more people died. They were shot. And still there are people in the US who want every idiot, miscreant, psychotic, criminal intended and untrained to be carrying guns! Before I was allowed to carry a weapon as a police officer I had to pass many tests and I had to qualify and prove to the county that I knew what I was doing with it. So why should a civilian simply go to a gun store and walk away with a killing machine? And for those who say that guns don’t kill, well, when I was in the Army I went to war with a firearm, not a frisbee!

    A most interesting and important post Anna. Thank you for your diligence in getting the message out there. When people turn their back on God nothing good can they produce.

    All the best,

  5. Excellent post Anna.
    It is so true that the new generation lacks parenting and love.

  6. The issue of poor/non-existent parenting is so pervasive as to now be a multi generational problem. I know of children whose parents AND grandparents have been pitiful examples of how to raise a child. The question that needs to be asked is twofold: 1, where does the failure of parents to properly train and raise their children lie?, and 2, can this trend be reversed?

    I’m going to go way out on an old fashioned limb here and say that parents who are not raising their children in the “fear and admonition of the Lord” have set their children up for failure. Additionally, sending our children to schools that are breeding grounds for drugs and violence only adds to the likelihood that they will become a product of said environment rather than productive members of society.

    I have to wonder if we as a nation have the fortitude to make the necessary changes in government, schools, and churches to attack this problem head on.

  7. Petrina

    Great post. Because God is a God of relationship and family, the enemy is viciously and very busily attacking the family structure. Yes, a lot of it has to do with parental influence.There is a vicious cycle/generational curse of family brokenness with father abuse and absenteeism at the root in many cases, but not all. Fathers (or mothers) who are abusive, and or absent, can be abusive and absent physically, emotionally, and otherwise. Lots of father absenteeism in the black communities. In these instances, the enemy has counterfeit families for the boys as we see, called gangs which is a whole other mess. Bad parenting contributes from to anything from rapists and serial killers and beyond. Yet, a lot of people are blaming feminism for society’s problems. What a cop out.

    Thank you for such an insightful post on a very important topic.

  8. It is a most interesting and important post, Anna. Good or bad behaviour can have a great influence on the children. Thank you for the important post. I wish you all the best, Marie

  9. I so agree with this. Even though my Dad was in the home, he was in the home as an abusive drunk. There were three of us kids, all three of us were affected. I married way to young to get out of the house, one of the twins ended up in prison for awhile. the other twin finished school, went to Viet Nam, came home from there determined to make something out of himself. He retired from Army after 20 some years. I had to forgive my Mom for keeping us in the hell. She divorced him after we kids were gone. It would be easy for me to allow the hurt from the past to keep me captive but instead I determined to not be an abusive or absent mother to our children. They are great adults, thoughtful, good parents and knew we loved them even when they got into trouble. Parents make the world worse then it is and better then what it is. Good post as usual.

    • Thank you for sharing your story, Betty. Raising responsible and loving adults is an enormous achievement. You should be very proud, especially considering the difficulties you faced, yourself.

  10. Pingback: Bad Parental Behavior – NarrowPathMinistries

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