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An Empirical Study of Parental Responsibility Laws: Sending Messages, but What Kind and to Whom?

Leslie Joan Harris, University of Oregon School of Law

Abstract

Parental responsibility laws impose some form of legal liability on parents for children’s misdeeds. They date to at least to the nineteenth century, and the first juvenile court law in 1903 century included a contributing to the delinquency of a minor provision, which is a form of parental responsibility law. Every 20 years or so policymakers seem to rediscover parental responsibility as a solution to problems of youth crime. For almost as long as they have existed, parental responsibility laws have been criticized as ineffective, creating risks of arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement, invading parental autonomy, and diverting attention from more effective solutions. But little is known about their actual implementation and effects. This study of Oregon’s statewide parental responsibility law and local ordinances examines what kinds of communities enact and enforce these laws (to the extent that they are enforced at all), how they related to other legal methods of controlling teen crime, and the messages they send about community ideas of the proper relationship between teens and the wider community

Suggested Citation

Leslie Joan Harris. "An Empirical Study of Parental Responsibility Laws: Sending Messages, but What Kind and to Whom?" Utah Law Review 2006 (2006): 5-34.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/leslie_harris/6