Are parents responsible for their children? In practice, no, as many of those who live here on the Southwest side can attest.
Are parents responsible for their children? In law, indisputably. Salt Lake City, Utah, reasons that "Those who neglect their parenting duties should be encouraged to be more diligent through criminal sanctions, if necessary."
I have written extensively about children running wild and unsupervised in what neighbors of the Meadowood shopping center and the Hammersley/Loreen area have called a "Lord of the Flies" existence - feral, loud, and destructive. Our liberal friends object to the role of parents in shaping proper youthful behavior.
Our elected county supervisor, Matt Veldran, (in his role on the city EOC) even voted against the wishes of our neighborhood associations in strengthening our youth curfew ordinance. Ald. Thuy Pham-Remmele, the only minority race member of the Common Council, was accused of racism for proposing it.
Hammersley Road/Park Ridge neighborhood police officer Justine Harris notes the "frustration with the lack of consequences for juveniles involved in disturbances, theft and/or property destruction."
Ald. Pham-Remmele told Officer Harris, "Please count me in and continue to keep me informed so we can work together on this. I am certain that many of my constituents would be happy to support your efforts."
Currently, Madison municipal ordinance allows only youth age 12 and older to be cited for violation of city ordinances. Parents are held responsible only for curfew violations. The unamended curfew remains 11 p.m. on weekdays, midnight on weekends for children 16 and younger.
"Beyond this, there is no ordinance holding parents responsible for juvenile delinquency. State law allows for parents to be held financially responsible for damage or loss of property caused by juveniles, but this doesn't address the concerns expressed by citizens," Officer Harris says.
Yet, other communities - in Wisconsin and elsewhere - have enacted parental responsibility ordinance. Penalties range from fines and restitution to required participation in parenting classes.
Here is what Officer Harris has found:
If it's good enough for Minneapolis
In Minneapolis Minnesota, "Any parent or legal guardian of a minor child under the age of eighteen (18) years who shall by word or deed or failure to act or by lack of supervision and control over said junior child, encourage, contribute toward, cause or tend to cause said minor child to become a "neglected child," a "delinquent child" or a "habitual truant," a "runaway," a "juvenile petty offender," a "juvenile alcohol offender," or a "juvenile controlled substance offender" as defined by Minnesota Statute 260.015, whether or not a petition for adjudication be sought or sustained in Hennepin County juvenile court, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
In LaPeer, Michigan, "It is the continuous duty of the parent of any minor to exercise reasonable control to prevent the minor from committing any delinquent act" and to attend school or be subject to a fine of $75 to $500 on first offense, more on subsequent offenses.
In Wisconsin, North Fond du Lac does not excuse the parent who "assigns their parental responsibility to another," thereby eliminating a convenient loophole.
"One interesting thing," Officer Harris says, "is that all these ordinances include youth up to age 18. The primary reason that the issue of parental responsibility arose was due to frustration on the part of citizens and police about the inability to hold youth under age 12 responsible for their delinquent activity. These ordinances extend the scope of that possibility to include an additional penalty for youth already receiving municipal citations."
The Katzenjammer Kid
What a cut-up! Talk about "acting out!" Well, you'd think Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito was acting the class clown at last week's State of the Union address -- not if you were sitting next to him, not if you reviewed the video tape, but only if you read John Nichols' account of "Alito's State of the Union hijinks." Hijinks?
Yes, the camera focused on the nine justices while the President of the United States excoriated that equal branch of government. When President Obama declared that 100 years of precedent had been overturned Alito made a small, almost imperceptible shake of his head No and mouthed the words "Not true."
Now that is judicial restraint!
I'd bet that a hundred others in that live audience and thousands of others at home across the nation were grinding their teeth over that one. Once and for all, Citizens United did NOT overturn the 1907 ban on corporate contributions to political campaigns -- a ban that was sponsored by the uber-white supremacist Benjamin "Pitchfork" Tillman of South Carolina.
It did allow corporations to speak their political opinion -- the same privileges granted to The Capital Times Inc. and other corporations. It does call into question why the Supreme Court should be in the State of the Union audience at all, given that the Constitution requires the President to give an annual message to Congress, not to the federal government in its entirety. No, what the Supremes should have done at that moment was to stand up, en masse, and walk out. [Calling out Samuel "Not True" Alito]
Redneck fire alarm (Thanks, Charlie)