Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Parenting Law

July 18, 1993

Your editorial "When Parents Totally Abdicate" (July 7) endorses what I believe is a rotten law and a poor decision by the California Supreme Court.

The editorial has an important fact wrong. In 1989, the woman charged under the parental responsibility law was not tried because, embarrassingly, the prosecutor discovered that she already had gone through the parental training class, not because she did so after she had been arrested.

The law represents a desperation effort to control delinquency by holding parents responsible. It undoubtedly will be applied almost exclusively to people who live in the slums and most of whom carry burdens that are so overwhelming that controlling their kids in their shabby environment is beyond their ability. Rather than encouraging parental responsibility, it will provide power to kids to threaten their parents with trouble, and will very likely induce some vulnerable parents to adopt even tougher tactics that will further drive their children into the streets.

To say that this "new lever" will be used sparingly by prosecutors is to abdicate the power that ought to reside in the law to those who enforce it. It is a very vague law, and it will ensnare only those people the law enforcers want to get. It will not, as you claim, make "a crime-beset society fractionally better off"; rather it makes a society under law a little poorer, and it may well contribute marginally to a higher rate of juvenile misbehavior.

GILBERT GEIS, Professor Emeritus

Department of Criminology,

Law and Society, UC Irvine

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|