Saturday, April 28, 2007

Parental Responsibility Law Challenged

I applaud Maple Hts for forcing people to become responsible parents. Some people are already crying the law in which they can charge parents for their children's behavior may be to aggressive and unfair.

Under the Maple Hts law, parents can be charged with a misdemeanor, even if their child is not charged with a crime. The law appears to be directly aimed at parents who refuse to be parents.
Parents showing an active role in disciplining and trying to control their children, will not necessarily be charged. This determination will be made by police and prosecutors.

The law is being challenged in Garfield Municipal Court as to vague.

The City of Bedford has a law and a program similar to Maple Hts. I feel the way Bedford handles and addresses these situations should be a model program, which I will explain below.

Many communities will be watching this one closely.

The PD reports --
Thelma Ephraim was charged because her son, 17, was charged in juvenile court with carrying a concealed weapon, resisting arrest and failure to comply with a police order.

Ephraim's attorneys, Ronald Balbier and Public Defender Jeffrey Lazarus told Garfield Heights Municipal Court Judge Jennifer P. Weiler that the law tries to govern how people parent their kids and to hold them responsible if there kids do anything wrong.

Balbier said as it reads now, parents can be charged with crimes if their children spit on the sidewalk, hurl a rock or get into a fight at school -- even if the child is not charged with any crime.

"It's assuming that anything a kid does wrong is because they weren't raised right," Balbier said. "I've got kids," he said. "They're good, but they could screw up."

The attorneys argued that the law is so vague and broad that a reasonable person wouldn't know how to prevent being charged with a crime that could land them in jail. More....

Unfortunately like typical bleeding heart defense attorneys, the public defender Balbier over exaggerates, but brings up some valid points. But again, I feel it goes to intent of the law and application of the process.

The most important thing here is that kids will be kids.... Some will screw up and get in trouble regardless of who or how 'good' their parents are. It is the gravity & frequency of the trouble, and attitude and involvement of the parent, that needs to be considered.

My father was a policeman for 25 yrs and my mother was a 5' tall God fearing Catholic Italian/Sicilian women who was the most caring Mother in the world. But go ahead and screw up, my Mother had the unique ability to turn anything into a paddle.

I was raised that children have no rights, only the ones 'given' to them by their parents. Children have no expectation to privacy... only the privacy 'given' to them. If the child gives the parent a reason to suspect something is wrong, going through their room, drawers and such, is part of being a responsible parent.

But we must make sure that these laws do not keep kids from being kids. The lessons of screwing up and getting in trouble at a young age builds character, integrity, responsibility, accountability, etc.... "if" there is parental discipline.

In the case such as the one above, it appears the parent does not feel her son was wrong by carrying a gun, resisting arrest and failure to comply. In this case, her teenager having a gun justifies her being charged. For her child to be carrying a gun, this parent has failed miserably.

Does this sound like a potential path to disaster? Think recent shooting on 135th & Kinsman where a 15 year old punk was shot & killed robbing someone at gunpoint.

Now to use the City of Bedford as an example.....

Bedford has had problems with kids walking in the streets and challenging cars, threatening the elderly, etc.... While I am sure is still happens to some extent, it has decreased dramatically and you rarely hear about it.

The City of Bedford and Bedford Municipal Court, with cooperation from the Bedford Police Dept. have made remarkable strides in combating this problem.

Depending on the infraction, children are sent to a Juvenile Diversion Program and will be dealt with on a local level. The kids are made to clean up along roads, parks, etc....

If this does not work and the kids continue causing trouble, the next time they are referred to the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court system.

I believe if a child is picked up more than twice, the parents can then be charged. With incremental steps such as this, it helps weed out the real trouble makers and kids just doing stupid kid stuff,

The successful results are apparent when driving around Bedford. To date, I am unaware of any complaints


  1. King - PD has this tonight on muni judge in Maple Hts. striking down the law as unconstitutional. The PD story says Bedford has a similar law - have you written about that before? know much about it?

    Here's the PD link:

  2. Oopsie - sorry - yes - you wrote about it! thanks!!


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