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Time for Tough Love

Editor’s Note:  This post originally appeared on Jan 29 at NUVO.net.   You can get an update by clicking over to IndyPolitics.Org.

Here we go again, another story about a mall shooting and young people getting out of control. I hate to be the bad guy here but when it comes to shootings and silliness, someone is going to have to be the bad guy.

We seem to go through this every year. Somewhere in Indianapolis, some teenagers get out of control, like this past Saturday at Circle Center Mall. They do stupid things like shoot each other or damage property in the process. Now I know we all did crazy things as kids, so I am not turning this into one of those “back in my day” lectures. However, I think it is safe to say that when we did something stupid, our parents were more likely to tear into us and the community was more likely to applaud them.

So what is a community to do when parents drop the ball? Might I suggest taking people to court? I recently consulted with an attorney colleague of mine who cited a provision in Indiana law that allows the rest of us to recover damages when other people refuse to parent.

Under Indiana Code 34-31-4, a parent is liable for a child’s actions up to $5,000 in “actual damages for arising from harm to a person or damage to property knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly caused by the parent if (1) the parent has custody of the child; and (2) the child is living with the parent.”

It seems to me that if parents won’t discipline problem children, then we as a society need to hit them in the pocketbook. I recall a few years ago in Lawrence Township, a number of kids weren’t showing up for school, so the Township Trustee partnered with a local principal to send a letter to the parents of missing kids telling them that if the kids did not show up for school, the parents would be denied poor relief. Guess what, a bunch of people showed up for school the next day. Imagine that!

Maybe we really need to start doing the same things here: Start slapping parents with fines and hitting people where it hurts. It will be amazing at how behavior starts to change.

Now this is not to punish the parent who is truly struggling. However, they have to have some skin in the game. If you’re going to pop out kids like a pez dispenser, then you have a responsibly to take care of them; society should not have to do the job. If it does, it at least deserves some help with the cost.

I am not being unreasonable; I am being responsible. I have always been a big fan of tough love. And if kids aren’t getting a good kick in the rear, then maybe reaching into parents’ back pockets might get some results.


  • talkradiolies

    More kids are running the streets these days because when they are apprehended the parent says they are not in school and are home because they are being “home-schooled.”No state truancy. Education choice run amuck with no guidelines. We need the state to take over more schools-not.

  • CircleCityScribe

    I agree that parents should be held accountable for allowing their children to engage in the behavior you describe….unfortunately, you can’t get something from nothing, so taking them to court for $5000 would not be realistic. An attorney would likely charge that much to take the case, then the judgment would likely never be perfected because the “parents” are on the public dole and claim to be indigent….

  • CircleCityScribe

    I have to call you on that one, Talkradiolies. The troublemakers come from an environment (family) where the behavior they display is learned from the home. Ask a thug why he’d not in school and you will NEVER hear that he is “home schooled” more likely, you’ll hear: “expelled, waiting on a tutor to come to my house” or “skipping school” or something along those lines.

  • Buzzy Whitlow

    I agree with you, Abdul, except that the vast majority of these children do not have “parents”, they have “parent”. We are seeing the results of divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing. CHILDREN FROM SINGLE PARENT HOMES DO LESS WELL ON EVERY MEASURE OF SOCIAL WELL BEING THAT THERE IS!! Get with it people, quit being selfish and do what’s best for your children for once! If you must sleep around, then please consider putting the resulting children up for adoption!!

  • Eric Rasmusen

    The idea is a good one. True, most of the money won’t get collected. Thus, it isn’t enough to have civil liability. Instead, the State has to bring the cases. Probably the defendants won’t show up, so the State will win, so it will be relatively cheap. Then, the State won’t be able to collect, and will sell the judgements for peanuts to collection agencies, but that’s OK— the point isn’t so much to compensate victims as to emphatically point out to parents that they have a responsibility. And the judgements *will* be collected from a few parents, and it is those parents— who have money, so the kids will pay more attention to them— who are especially likely to react.

  • schoolshmool

    I heartily agree with most of this post. Parents are responsible for their children, let them pay for their damage. And work it off if they don’t have the money. But forced schooling is wrong, and likely a source of many of these problems. Children who are almost completely surrounded by other children are virtually guaranteed to continue to act like children: they will never become responsible. One of the reasons homeschooling works so well is that children spend far more time with adults. Two-parent homes help, and so would a shrinkage of the school day.

  • rightactions

    Newt Gingrich is right. Correct too when he suggested greater use of orphanages to rescue children from Ms. Pez-Dispenser.

    I recommend direct sealed burned-record adoption of babies born to unwed females. Those babies should be liberated from Ms. Pez-Dispenser and be placed for adoption into stable, married heterosexual two-parent homes.

    We must break the cycle of Make-A-Baby-Win-A-Prize that America’s maternalistic welfare state spawns.

    We must also recognize that 80% of divorces are due to the whims of the female and therefore father-only custody should be the routine presumption of the divorce courts. There would be a lot fewer divorces for light and transient whims were this so.

    Welfare checks and housing subsidy schemes are no substitute for the tough love you advocate, Mr. Abdul Hakim-Shabazz.

  • AWB

    Lawrence Township had the right idea. Tie children behavior in with any and all entitlements and watch the youth problems get cut in half.

    Now…what to do with the little punks who come from families that are doing well enough or well-off?

  • http://www.facebook.com/btblosser Brad Blosser

    I have a question. Why is it that there are African American’s speaking in here with so much wisdom about this issue and yet there are so many fingers laying blame on white Euro’s from over 200 years ago?

    Referring to Thandiwe who killed 1 girl, crippled another, and wounded a third when he walked up to their car after being at a “peace rally” where he had intended to talk about the need for violence to make white Euro’s pay for what happened over 200 years ago. He stated during his trial that his head was filled with hatred by his “White” and “African American” professors and in his sociology and anthropology classes. He pulled his gun on his boss earlier in the day and almost shot him.
    This isn’t just a problem in Indiana, this is going on all over the country.
    It takes a village to raise a child, but if the village is full of idiots who preach racial hatred rather than peace and working together, this situation is never going to get better.
    The President doesn’t speak out about it, Oprah Winfrey doesn’t speak out about it, The major US press and tv news or radio news doesn’t speak out about it.
    Yet it goes against everything Dr. King adressed in his “I have a Dream” speach.
    Why is this type of behavior which is becomng more and more common especially in the Eastern half of the United States going uncovered by those who should be talking about it? Why aren’t more people like the author of this story and Mr. AWB talking about it as if it’s not normal behavior and something to be avoided?
    You don’t really have to be African American to realize that Dr. King’s speach speaks about this very subject and says it is wrong wrong wrong.

  • Dave

    Dr. Ben Carson (neurosurgeon) has a compelling story of growing up in a single parent household, tough love, all things possible & liberty.

    If you haven’t heard or seen this guy speak, you’re in for some intellectual & spiritual refreshment: guywww.breitbart.com/Breitbart-TV/2013/02/07/Dr-Carson-Prayer-Breakfast-Speech-That-Slams-Obama-Debt-Right-In-Front-Of-Him