Under the law, parents are legally bound to their children until they reach 18 years of age. Guardians are required to provide for the mental and physical well-being of their young ones, as well as teach them the difference between right and wrong. Although this seems like a general definition of a good parent, experienced Childrens Protective Services defense lawyers in Michigan warn that a pending proposal in Detroit could place even more responsibilities on guardians, potentially resulting in jail time.
In the past few weeks, Detroit has been a hotbed of juvenile crime and violence. According to Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, this problem can largely be attributed to parents and their failing to be accountable for the actions of their children.
Currently, the Wayne County Prosecutors Office does penalize parents and guardians if their children miss an excessive amount of school. However, by the time the legal system gets involved, the student has already missed a substantial amount of class putting them even further behind. According to The Associated Press, hundreds of these cases are reviewed each year, but only around 50 result in prosecution. If a parent is convicted of Michigan educational neglect, the misdemeanor would be accompanied with a fine and up to 90 days behind bars.
Worthy cites the recent example of Demarco Harrisa then 12 year-old, arrested by police for murder. Law enforcement officials maintain that when they were looking for the young boy, one of the first places they searched was his parents home. When they knocked on the door at around 2:00 a.m. -when any juvenile should be home and in bed- the parents stated that they did not know where their son was.
Harris conviction of Michigan murder charges in May convinced Worthy that parental involvement in the schooling system was severely lacking, and could be a reason for the ever-present low attendance and graduation rates in Detroit. Should Worthys plan pass, parents in Wayne County would be required to attend at least one parent-teacher conference a year. If the first meeting is missed, a letter will automatically be sent requesting a new conference within 14 days. Should parents also miss the second meeting, they could face three days behind bars.
Although the ordinance has good intentions, it is very unlikely to become law because it could infringe on the parents civil rights. The executive director of Michigans American Civil Liberties Union, Kary Moss, believes such a proposal is inappropriately placed. A criminal justice solution is not the answer to complicated social problems, Moss explained, The last thing many families in dire situations need is more punishment by the criminal justice community. Theres established law already that governs child abuse and neglect, and that sets up the standard for involvement by the government in the familys affairs.
There are other opposing factors to consider when it comes to Worthys ordinance. While legislators in other states have attempted to pass similar proposals, all have failed to make it out of committee. In fact, there is no current legislation in existence that resembles what Worthy would like to see passed. Additionally, many parents are too busy working ensuring that there is food on the table for their family, let alone attend a parent-teacher conference. For many single parents in the city of Detroit, finding a way to attend a meeting with an educator can be a difficult and challenging task.
Even though Worthys proposal will likely fail like the others, it is nonetheless interesting to see how much responsibility is placed in the hands of parents. While it is true that the legal system requires parents to provide for their children, does that necessarily include forcing them to be involved in their education as well? Should hard-working guardians be sent to jail because they have missed a parent-teacher conference? Is this considered neglect?
For answers to these and other complex legal questions, it is important to seek knowledgeable Childrens Protective Services defense attorneys in Michigan for answers. Being suspected of poor parenting is a serious accusation that can have life-changing consequences, including fines, jail time, and even the termination of parental rights. Therefore, it is essential to be pro-active in finding assistance for your case, ensuring that your civil rights and family are well-protected.