|Parenthood — it can be one of life’s hardest and most rewarding jobs. Unfortunately, it can become even harder if a child ends up in legal trouble. What many parents don’t realize is that a juvenile’s legal issues can also involve the guardians; depending on the state, a parent can be held civilly or even criminally liable for the actions of a child under the age of 18.
Skipping school comes with consequences beyond missed assignments and lackluster grades. For example, Texas passed a bill in 2015 decriminalizing truancy for juveniles (meaning no more jail time for students), but parents can still be held responsible. A legal guardian contributing to nonattendance can face a misdemeanor charge and a fine up to $500.
Twenty-two percent of students across the U.S. report being bullied over the course of a school year. The Wisconsin town of Shawano has taken action, recently passing an anti-bullying law to help discourage it. Harassment of any kind by a child under 18 results in a parental warning and police can fine parents for each additional incident.
Accidental shootings at the hands of children under 18 are too often in the news, with statistics reflecting an average of nearly two a week from December 2012 to December 2013. More than half of the U.S. currently haschild access prevention legislation. Some states consider it a misdemeanor to allow a minor to own or carry a firearm; others deem it a felony offense to negligently store a firearm that a juvenile can access.