Vicarious liability refers to occasions whereby a senior party may hold responsible for crimes committed by a junior party under their mandate, which caused by the nature of their relationship (Howard, 1997). Vicarious liability of parents for crimes committed by their children signifies how parents are liable for any criminal acts performed by their children. Vicarious liability on parents is embraced due to increased cases of youth crime. It intends to hold parents accountable for any crimes committed by their children. This is because the care of these children has been entrusted to them so as to enhance the reliability of the parents over their children.
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An example is a situation when a parent possesses a gun, but does not take the proper precautions to keep it away from a child, who may use the firearm to harm or even kill another child. It is the responsibility of parents to protect their children from harmful deeds and discipline their children. It also their responsibility to control what their children should access and what should be kept outside their reach. In this case, although a child may be placed under juvenile care, a parent will hold responsibility due to recklessly storing the firearm. It is obvious that parents perform their duties as required. If the firearm were stored away from the child’s reach, then the crime would not be committed. Thus, parents may be viewed as an accessory to the murder. Though they did not contribute directly to the crime, it was because of their carelessness that a child had performed the crime.
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In Rhodes Island, there are laws intended to hold parents responsible, in case parents do not perform their duties of restricting children from visiting gambling dens, taking alcohol, loitering late in the night without any lawful intentions or even a parent being unable to prevent their children from getting into or associating with ill-mannered people (Nemeth, 2011). This shows that although the law recognizes the offence on the part of the child, it does not let loose on the parents poor parenting methods that have led a child into committing a crime. The law holds the parent accountable despite the fact that they were aware of the act being committed or not.
Another role of parents is to support their children by providing them with the basic needs for survival which include food, shelter, clothing, and medical care. Thus, in case a child is involved in a robbery, for example, in school and whatever they steal is a basic need then the parent holds accountable for the unfortunate event. This is because parents have neglected their roles and responsibilities.
Another example is when a parent is aware that a child is exposed to commit a particular crime. However, he does nothing to prevent the crime from happening (Gilicker, 2010). This renders a parent as an associate to the crime even though he has not been involved in committing it. This is because a parent had the knowledge and the ability to prevent a child from committing the crime, but decides to ignore and let a child go ahead and commit the crime instead of exercising their authority to ensure that a child keeps away from the immoral behavior. This also looks like a parent is helping a child commit the crime. It makes a parent an accomplice to the crime.
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