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'Parents should pay for their children's crimes'

'Parents should pay for their children's crimes'

Published: 11 Feb 2010 11:10 GMT+01:00
Updated: 11 Feb 2010 11:10 GMT+01:00

The Swedish government has announced that from September 1st parents will be made financially responsible for crimes committed by their children.

"For most people this is not a big issue at all. For most people it is patently clear that parents should take responsibility for their children," Justice Minister Beatrice Ask said in a government statement.

Ask underlined that the proposal is part of raft of measures to tackle youth crime.

"Children and young people are very prone to criminal behaviour. If you consider the statistics from 2008, with regard to those suspected on reasonable grounds, 25 percent are aged between 15-20," she said.

But the government proposal has been criticised by more than half of the referral bodies party to the legislative process. Among those that question whether the measure will have any affect on youth crime are the Ombudsmen of Justice (Justitieombudsmännen - JO).

"JO has found that there are insufficient grounds on which to base the claim that the proposal would have any preventative effect. There is therefore no basis for making an exception from the core principle that the person who commits a crime should pay the penalty," Malou Lindblom at JO told The Local.

The proposal has also drawn criticism from the Swedish Prosecution Authority (Åklagarmyndigheten), the Chancellor of Justice (Justitiekanslern - JK) and the Swedish Bar Association (Advokatsamfundet). Both Stockholm and Uppsala Universities have also argued that current research does not support the claim that the measure will help to tackle youth crime.

Some fear that the measure may even make the situation worse for many children living in abusive situations.

But the proposal has gained support from some quarters - among them, the Children’s Ombudsman (Barnombudsmannen - BO).

"Currently children accumulate the debts incurred, which fall due when they come of age (18 in Sweden). This causes all sorts of problems in later life," Catherine Johnsson at BO told The Local.

"Parents should take responsibility for their children and for the consequences of their actions," she said.

In a bid to tackle youth criminal behaviour, the government also intends to extend police powers, including the right to spot search, to collect DNA and to perform drug tests. These proposals will come into force on July 1st.

"If we are to break a criminal development then we have to react very strongly if we see that there is a pattern," Ask said.

The government also intends to place "clearer, higher demands" on social services and to work for greater cooperation between the social services and the police.

"It is not a question of punishing the children, but to give qualitative information to the social services to determine the measures that a young person could need," Beatrice Ask said.

Paul O'Mahony (paul.omahony@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:34 February 11, 2010 by EtoileBrilliant
Finally a breakthrough! As a father four children this will probably bankrupt me but it will remind parents of their obligations as responsible parents.
13:52 February 11, 2010 by calebian22
So the same government that considers it a crime to implement strict discipline, even raising one's parental voice, is the same one that will hold the parent responsible when the undisciplined and unruly child grows up to be a juevenile delinquent. Further proof that politcians the world over, are morons.
13:54 February 11, 2010 by davidmc
I do not live in Sweden. I respect the views and cultural differences of countries other than mine. Where I live, parents are responsible for their children; we have a lot of problems in the US but having parents responsible seems to work pretty well.
14:00 February 11, 2010 by Durai
This is really a good move by the sweden government :)
14:14 February 11, 2010 by Great Scott
It is often mismanagement of the state that causes young people to do wrong things.

If their parents are on low incomes or unemployed this is when young people often suffer.

People on good incomes can give their children what they want to keep them out trouble, in other word pay their way out of trouble

If young people have no form of recreation or have little interests in life, they become bored, this is a time when problems arise.

If a parent has to make sure their children does no wrong they will need to keep an eye on them 24/7 or lock them in the house.

In most cases it is always the people on low incomes that will suffer, people with money will almost never experience this, and yet they are the first to point the finger.

People with children get income support, but low earners or the unemployed have to use this to make ends meet, where as middle or high income earns can afford to pass these benefits on to their children.

Governments need wake up to this and stop turning a blind eye. Cutting taxes only benefits people with money, and when taxes are cut who pays the bill, the poor.
14:26 February 11, 2010 by Alex Coman
Social Service and police are working together only on risk groups. There s a lot of kids from middle-class families with a criminal behaviour and none focusing on them, except, maybe, their schools. For them, yes, the families are to blame.

But how can anyone blame a working single mother?

Beatrice Ask said : "It is not a question of punishing the children...bla bla bla"

Oh, it really is a question of punishing the children and their parents when they make a crime.

Anyway, good for them, the Swedish government, they try to solve one of the biggest problem of the Western World.
14:43 February 11, 2010 by DAVID T
There was hardly any crime of 15 - 20 year olds 20+ years ago so why has this changed? It's basicaly down to the parents who don't care what their kids do - maybe this will be a wake-up call for useless parents
15:09 February 11, 2010 by Tiddler
One of the worst thought through pieces of legislation I have ever had the misfortune to encounter.

I can see a situation where children will purposely commit vandalism with the sole intent of getting back at their parents who have had the temerity to discipline them, raise their voice, withold pocket money, threaten curfews etc.

What a pathetic, counterproductive opportunistic voter pandering piece of garbage this woman is.
15:10 February 11, 2010 by eZee.se
One wonders where this idea came from....?

(puts on tin foil hat)

could it be at the request of the film and recording industries?

As everyone knows Beatrice Ask is there pet wh0re, running around trying to get the laws they want in place to protect their outdated business models.

Now if a kid was 'found' downloading it would look real bad in the media if they tried to sue the kid (as the RIAA found out in the States when they sued a 12 year old girl for downloading a few songs...they also sued a dead guy, grandmothers,the sick and the dying-but that may be for another discussion (google is your friend)) but now... "the immature kid did it" wont hold up as an excuse no longer, they'll simply make the parents pay and thus try to put fear into everyone that 'filesharing is wrong, we can find you if you file share and somehow you are going to pay for it..blah blah blah - lies lies lies - blah blah blah'

(removes tin foil hat)

or it could be just another bad idea of showing kids that: dont worry, if you do something bad - someone else will pay for it.

In a country where a rapist who raped 6 women gets 2 and a half years in the pen, but downloading a music track can get you 2 years in the pen, this makes perfect sense.
15:13 February 11, 2010 by Tiddler
Agreed Ezee,

it's actually just part of the Corporatist Marxist agenda to destroy the concept of personal responsibility while wringing as much cash out of the debt slaves as possible.
15:35 February 11, 2010 by Ian11
How can you implement such law when the state disallows a strict discpline? Surely discipline and responsibility goes hand in hand. Does this mean we can conclude that the state is saying "kids go to what ever you want to do and commit as much crime as you can since you can get away with it and let your parents pay for it!"
16:03 February 11, 2010 by Johan X
Parents should take responsibility for their children and for the consequences of their actions.
16:05 February 11, 2010 by nneville
I agree 100% with Ian11. By law it is not permitted to have an environment where a child fears retribution from the parent so why in the hell would thye care if they bankrupted them. Oh, you don't want me skipping school or smoking, can u afford to replace all the tyres I will slash tonight?

Good law on it's basis but these kids here are out of control because the parents are not permitted to control them - in any mild or extreme case.

Teens get 2 years or less for premeditated violent rapes and murders, what will the parents pay? Maybe they should serve time also.
16:21 February 11, 2010 by livinginsweden
So which parent will be paying ..... the mother who in over 70% of divorced cases have residential custody of the children from Day 1 of the divorce or the father because it is always his fault that the children are naughty?

ha ha
16:54 February 11, 2010 by 2394040
Speaking as a former single parent whose only child is now grown, the raising of children is difficult enough without a purely arbitrary law. Even the best-raised children, no matter how closely they are monitored, can go wrong. I would only favor this law if it can be proved "beyond a shadow of a doubt" that a parent was negligent. What comes next? Will I have to closely monitor the actions of my neighbors as well? And why not be required to go down to Parliament and monitor them as well. Once we go down this road, the inevitable outcome is that everyone will be required to spy of everyone else. And while we're on this subject, why not bring back debtor's prison? Lock up the whole family, and why not, since the children are obviously responsible for the parent's spending habits. Just one more example of governmental stupidity.

Just one more example of the abuse of power by the aristocracy; the wealthy minority who actually control the government anyway.
17:10 February 11, 2010 by Keith #5083
#David T

Hmm, that kind of blows away the history of 'teddy boys','mods and rockers', and such.I think it's a bit revisionist to convey a concept that vandalism or hooliganism is a 'modern ailment'.This is often said of 'football hooliganism' also, yet in the 1930's, in the UK, there was football hooliganism.

That having been said it seems,on balance, a reasonable 'control methodology' to place a responsibility with parents.After all, if a kid wants a new mobile phone,WiFi, or such it's somewhat difficult to obtain if the parent/s has just had to pay out many 1.000's because of unruly or criminal behavior. It should make may youngsters think twice. But then, there are always those who will blame politicians, no matter what happens.Corporatist Marxist is an interesting contradiction!?!
18:11 February 11, 2010 by Uncle
Actually in the countries that a tight discipline is encouraged (Russia, entire Latin America) there is more crime per capita. Besides, parents that need to argument with a heavy hand are often the ones who get criminal kids and not those soft Swedish professors.

What annoys me is that the excuse of being a single mother apparently is enough to let your chldren go and rob people on the streets. In that case I am FOR charging these mothers. I know plenty of people with poor single mothers who were alwys under a tight and loving control and care.

Parental reponsibility is someting obvious, whereas collecting a debt on a wild 15 y/o who does not understand the value of money is idiotic. It will encourage the parents to be more assertive and invest more attention to what their monsters are doing.
18:52 February 11, 2010 by StockholmSam
When those little idiots spraypaint my building, I wind up paying for it in the form of increasing rents (to offset the cost of ongoing repairs), decreased property values, or higher taxes. At least with this law, someone besides me or the state will foot the bill.
19:12 February 11, 2010 by Tusker
Sadly, we now, in western countries, have a situation whereby, there are significant social gaps between the different age groups. I would be very reluctant to step into a situation with some unrelated youngster in the street, as this could trigger all sorts of unwanted accusations and questioning of my involvement...unlike when I was a kid when if I misbehaved there were a host of neibourhood ïnformants"! So I learnt to tread softly!

I say give it a try. Sure you are going to have some severely peeeed off parents, but two positive outcomes may be, firstly the kids will get a "wake up"call before they progress into worse behaviours, before it is ingrained into them that they can get away with things, but possibly just as importnat these parent prosecutions may reveal situations where the parent concerned is not able to cope and thereby is made aware of possible social/family service organisations that may be available to help
19:53 February 11, 2010 by dahaviland
Kids in Sweden need to realize that there are consequences to their actions... good and bad. If parents aren't willing to step up and do what they should be doing as parents in the first place, then maybe this will encourage them.
20:42 February 11, 2010 by moaca
So where is the boundary for being held responsible for your childs behaviour? Are the parents liable up to the age of 18, or 25? If a person over 18 still lives with his/her parents and does something stupid, does that mean the parents will have to carry the financial consequenses of this? Depending on how large the penalty is, can you imagine that your son or daughter does something that in the end might result in you selling your house you have worked all your life for?

I do believe in parents taking responsibility for their children and also for the fact that teaching them normal values start at a very early age. I have always set boundries for my children and did not have to beat them up to get my point across. This due to the fact that it was indoctrinated at a very early age. I never accepted any back talk, and arguing with a child under the age of 8 is even to absurd for words. Every living creature has to obide by certain rules, whether you are an ape or a human being. This is the law of nature. We have failed our children by letting go of the boundaries and therefore children think they can do what they want without it having to bad consequenses. Every child needs guidance, love and discipline to function as a stabile person when getting in to adolesence. When building a house, you need to make a stable foundation as otherwise the house will at some point collapse. The same principle goes for raising your children. The foundation you create when they are small will have a lasting effect when they grow up to be adults. At least that is what I believe. Common sense!
20:59 February 11, 2010 by dahaviland
Very simple. The issue is that parents will be held responsible for their children's actions. When you're eighteen, you are legally not a child anymore unless you emancipate yourself earlier. If you're 40 and living at home, you are simply an adult who lives at home. Same goes if your eighteen and commit a crime, you will be tried as an adult.

I think this law is appropriate because from what I have seen and heard, kids are really out of control in Sweden. There is so much alcohol abuse, fighting, vandalism and rape amongst teens.
21:00 February 11, 2010 by Malmoman
We're gonna lose the house!

I heard that a few times when I was a kid!

Either way it doesn't really work in the US. The juvenile crime rates are MUCH higher than in Sweden.

I agree with the idea of personal responsibility. However if it is NOT effective there is no reason tying up expensive lawyers and police from more serious crimes. We need to be scientific about this.
21:54 February 11, 2010 by believe
What is considered adult age in Sweden? What is the drinking age? The age they go into the military? I have always thought these things are double standards in US. I mean you can be adult enough to fight for our country at 17. You can't vote till you are 18. Most states you cannot drink till you are 21. Every state is different on legal age. Iowa is 18, Nebraska is 19 and so on. If my son had killed someone at 16 while driving his own car, should I have had to pay for that crime? That's extreme case, okay say he stole a car. I should pay? He was old enough to drive legally in my state, but finacially I have to be held accountable? At what point should the "child" be held accountable for his/her actions?
02:00 February 12, 2010 by Prat
The parents raise their kids, take time-off when their kids are little, and receive paid leave when the kids are sick, so of course parents & kids are linked economically. It is not simply "the person who commits a crime should pay the penalty" -- let the parents pay costs, let the children face rehabilitation training.
03:15 February 12, 2010 by Davey-jo
The kids could pay it back when they become adults; but I guess that is too much thinking down the line .....!
15:42 February 12, 2010 by gladdenpaul
So in order to instill a greater sense of responsibility in young people the plan is to remove the personal consequences of their bad decisions? Great message! Thats sure to come in handy later in life...
17:56 February 12, 2010 by ThureWallenberg
Quite right too. This is also aimed at the gangs of foreign children who roam through Sweden in the summer stealing night and day. They claim they are under fifteen and therefore cannot be prosecuted.

Social services can do nothing with these rogues but turn them back on the street.

They cost anyone living here thousands of crowns just to make a few crowns for their gang masters.
19:00 February 12, 2010 by johnnyrebel
Another good reason to not have children.
21:40 February 12, 2010 by Viviane Varan
QUOTE from " the redemption manual published by the Americal Bulletin, re: when the gold standard was removed:

"HJR 192 provided that "the one with the gold paid the bills." It removed the

requirement that United States subjects and employees had to pay their debts with

gold. It actually prohibited the inclusion of a clause in all subsequent contracts that

would require payment in gold. It also cancelled the clause in every contract

written prior to June 5, 1933 that required an obligation to be paid in gold -

retroactively."

RELEVANCE: debt notes reoplaced gold, paying debt with debt is not possible , hence

the one with the gold has to pay, where and who are they ?

charge=debt

juvenile delinquence=charge=debt

who has the gold aka AU in the chemical periodical table ?

this is a very important foundamental international question based on the UCC

( Unified Commercial Code of Admiralty Maritime International Commercial Law

see Andersen' s 3rd edition in plain English )

A lot of charades can be solved and explained and or resisted with this

It' s not about rich and poor, it' s not about injustice it' s about

" knowledge is power " ... I am sad I love Sweden

oh yeah I forgot, the redemption manual 4th edition, actually starts page 59 as there is 58 pages of fluff to discourage those who have bad intentions from reading that amazing book, thought I should mention.
22:21 February 12, 2010 by desert voice
It seems to me that this law inevitably coming after corporal punishment was banned by the legislature. What took care of children's and teenagers' delinquency for millennia had suddenly been done away by social architects. Was it foolishness in the highest degree, or brilliancy? The time will tell. When people arrogantly do away with time-tested remedies, without providing a proven alternative, there are bound to be societal consequences. This law is just the beginning. It's inevitable. The scapegoats have now become the parents! Fortunately, the Sweedish parents are generally well-off, so this remedy will work for a time ... until the children bancrupt the parents1 When that happens, new remedies will frantically begin to be sought ... or we will simply return to the millenary common sense! One thing is certain: the children were now given a powerful weapon to get back at their parents with vengeance! They will use the weapon; on this you can bet!
09:45 February 13, 2010 by glamshek
Somewhat related to Islam. You should be metally independent to get the capital punishments. Since by this law parents become responsible automatically, it would also be good to give parents the rights to punish their children in a little harsher way. Otherwise why should parents accept this huge responsibility if they cannot stop their children physically.
10:32 February 13, 2010 by dahaviland
Violence begets violence! It's proven that hitting your children encourages them to hit each other. Here's an idea, maybe you can raise your children with good morals and values that come from inherently within without looking to religious fairy tales that all preach violence towards your children.
23:40 February 14, 2010 by Da Goat
I agree with everyone above!

This is an excellent law except it needs a bypass clause so that the parents can dump back on the child !

No authoritarian govt people I choose not to pay this time, please lock up my child in jail!

Seeing as Parents are not allowed to control the children manually, if the child is uncontrollable by the normal allowed methods, then the parents need the right to hand them over to the state for the required lessons needed!

What I mean is yes the parents should pay as stated but if the child does not care for the parents love and concern then they need to be able to flick pass back unto the irresponsible child!
10:17 February 16, 2010 by johnnyrebel
Now I know why tigers sometimes eat their young.-Rodney Dangerfield
12:44 February 16, 2010 by red.king
I think it would work for the small minority of cases where you have at least somewhat responsible parents whose kid is not a regular law-breaker. But this is complete rubbish for the vast majority of criminalised kids who are either:

1. Uncontrollable (for whatever the reason)

2. In a real bad home situation whereby the parents/guardians simply either do not give a cr*p or don't posess the skills needed to raise children in the first instance.

I think that as long as the child is over the age of 12 that they should be held personally liable to the extent that they must perform community service (and not just something stupid like 40 hours) every vacation until they are 18. The kids need to experience and understand that their actions have a direct consequences on their lives in the present.

The likelyhood is that a 13 year old kid who ends up in trouble on a regular basis is the same kids who is very likely to come from a bad family environment whereby a financial burden on his/her folks is just going to make the situation worse.... ....

My wife has worked as a social worker in a very disadvantaged social houseing area in Ireland. Her role was to intervene where possible to sperate the kid from the 'behaviour triggers'- Many of these triggers actually came from the home environment. Intervention works, and works very well when applied in the correct way. It seems to me that this new law will work more as a punishment rather than a prevention....

Don't get me wrong, I do not believe that there is any 1 solution that will fix the issue as you can't stop some people having kids and also it is impossible to remove all of the environmental triggers that result in some kids acting out. Maybe this new law needs to be applied on a case by case situation whereby the fine is waived through a fair appeals process if its application would actually result in more harm than good? In thise situations perhaps the parents and kids are given another chance and if a repeat offence occurs then the child is taken into full time care and the parents have to do a parenting councilling course??

But this of course means an additional burden on the State..... Which is the less of the two evils? Pay additional tax to fund a proactive solution or simply accept that there will be a certain level of crime for youngsters? I think I'd rather pay the tax to be honest! Kids who are regular offenders in their teens have a very high chance of spending time in prison as adults.

Is it not better to spend money on them when they are younger (and less hardened) and rehabilitate them (or at least those that can)? Without having any figures to quote I would still estimate that it costs more to house a prisoner in jail per month than it would to place a child into care for a month?
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