Responsibilty scale tipping
As one call wrapped up and devolved into small talk, one of my guys brought up the case of a Miami-area woman whose young daughters got snatched yesterday by a guy she described to authorities as a "family friend." The problem was the woman didn't even know the "family friend's" last name. She knew him only by one of several first names he's given police. He had only been in the area a month or so, and she had moved him into her home...with her daughters. This guy was a virtual stranger. An Amber Alert was issued, and the good news is the girls were found alive and safe this morning in a small city about 30 miles from home.
My immediate response to this story from my cop buddy was that the suspect, if this isn't all a big misunderstanding and he really did kidnap those girls, should have unbreakable fishing line tied tightly around his jewels till they fall off...for starters.
My guy laughed and agreed, but then replied something to the effect of "yeah, but you gotta wonder what the mother was thinking."
And he was right. So that comment led the conversation briefly in another direction, to kids who have recently found themselves in trouble with the law. I used to insist that most teens and some tweens have enough sense to know that violent and assault and murder are wrong - the exceptions being some kids who suffer from some form of mental retardation or kids with diagnosable mental/psych conditions that make them prone to violence.
I rarely budged on that issue. But just like with this Amber Alert case, I'm seeing a rash of incidents involving juvenile offenders that are making me ask what responsibility the parents have.
There's a 12-year-old in custody here in South Florida for allegedly beating to death his toddler niece with a baseball bat, because she was crying too loudly and interrupting his cartoons. A 16-year-old here in South Florida is fast approaching a trial date on murder charges after he and a few buddies allegedly terrorized a high school graduation party and fatally shot a party-goer during what was supposed to have been an armed robbery. Also in South Florida, three more teens - two are legally adults now, I believe - are in jail awaiting charges of assaulting a bunch of homeless people in parks and a gas station parking lot. They allegedly killed one of the homeless, and reportedly admitted it during questioning by police. Before a couple of the homeless-killers were caught, they fled the state temporarily (likely with their parents' help or knowledge) to hide with family elsewhere in the South.
I never, ever would have bought that "he didn't know better argument." And I'm not saying these cases have completely changed my mind about that. I'm just saying maybe the kids alone aren't responsible.
These particular parents can't have it both ways. If their killer kids are so incompetent, as to not understand that violent assault and murder are bad, that's not a level of incompetence reached overnight. It had to've been stewing a while. And that would mean the parents were conceivably aware that their kids were ticking time bombs. And if they weren't aware should they have been?
What do you think; is it unreasonable to put some of the legal responsibility on the parents of killer kids, or do you believe the average parent could be completely caught off guard and not know their kid had it in 'im to kill?
It's not a PC thing to say, but remember, one need only look back to the woman who moved a guy whose full name she didn't know into her home with her two young children, to realize that sometimes the parents do share some blame when bad things happen with their kids.