Volume 73, Number 2

May 1998

Dangerous Children and the Regulated Family: The Shifting Focus of Parental Responsibility Laws

Paul W. Schmidt

This Note argues that the appearance of postmodern penological trends in the juvenile justice context results in two problems: an attack on the autonomy of the family and a shift to a more sinister view of children. This Note specifically examines parental responsibility laws, measures that hold parents criminally responsible for the acts of their children. These laws show a new readiness to attribute juvenile misconduct to improper parenting and to hold parents strictly liable for their children’s acts, both in furtherance of protecting society from the danger presented by juveniles. In so doing, these laws embody the postmodern trends mentioned above.