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Orders Against Parents

When a juvenile court assumes jurisdiction over a juvenile, it inevitably assumes jurisdiction over the conduct of the parents of the juvenile as their parenting skills come under scrutiny. A juvenile court is empowered to refrain from making findings of guilt against a juvenile, even after the charge is proved, but “may instead make an order against the parent, guardian or close relative for the payment of damages or costs or require the person to give security for good behavior.”[1] The opportunity for conviction may arise on one of two fronts: when such parent, guardian, or close relative who has been asked to attend court but has failed to do so and when evidence suggests that the parent or guardian has been negligent in the exercise of supervision over the juvenile as what happened in Donkor v. The Republic.[2] The real importance of this order is that when the child’s delinquency has been traced to the lack of effective parental supervision, the parent is shown to be a bad parent. Such failure to live up to proper parental standards becomes punishable conduct, for which the state requires a fine to be paid. There is an issue of fairness here when a parent who has not been given any opportunity to acquire proper parenting skills gets fined for failing to meet standards for which he or she has not been prepared or supported to acquire. Is good parenting a necessary skill with which one is naturally endowed upon becoming a parent? This provision is tantamount to criminalizing bad parenting and punishing a person for not having measured up to a parenting standard for which no help has been provided.

  • [1] Section 28 (2)
  • [2] Section 30 (1)
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