Parents in the Cleveland suburb of Maple Heights could face misdemeanor convictions and pay up to $3,000 in restitution if their children are charged with a crime, says the Cleveland Plain Dealer. A parental-responsibility ordinance, which may be the first of its kind in the region, was adopted this month after frequent complaints of disruptive teens congregating, violating curfew, or vandalizing, said Mayor Michael Ciaravino. Other cities have prosecuted the parents of children who break laws while in school or skip classes, but the Maple Heights ordinance holds parents accountable even if the children are not convicted.
Under the law, parents will have a chance to convince a court that they have taken reasonable steps to control their child. If convicted, however, the court might order parents to pay restitution for their child’s crime, in addition to the fines and penalties. Parents who fail to supervise their children face a minor misdemeanor fine of $150 for a first offense. “This program is designed to ask parents to step up and assume their natural role as authority figures in their children’s lives,” said Ciaravino. “Rather than creating a police state in which the government is watching and reacting to kids’ behavior, it’s much more appropriate for parents to assume that duty.”