Rules: some of them seem crazy while others have a hard and fast reason for being in place, and many of them have everything to do with the rights of a child. No matter the age, children have some serious protections when it comes to certain situations that are all in place for their well-being. Some of them are surprising while others seem like common sense but with many of these rules, the parents are the ones held responsible. All over the world, child-specific rules are enacted to protect the child while holding their parent(s) accountable for any actions that may have occurred.
Until a child is 16-years-old, their parents are largely responsible for their actions. This makes sense, as children are considered products of the way they're raised. But it may come as a surprise how serious the consequences are for parents when their child seriously misbehaves. A lot of these rules are only for the most rare, serious circumstances, but others can come up pretty easily in everyday life without parents even realizing it. Based off of thorough research and the knowledge of professionals who have years of experience, here are 15 that protect the child and not the parent.
15 Willfully Being Ignored
This is one of those laws that has some blurred lines and a bit of a risk should there be no luck in your favor. In some countries, there is no proper legal age to leave your child home alone.
The issue of when your child is old enough and aware enough to take care of themselves is left solely up to the parents, according to the law.
It's at the parent or legal guardian's discretion to make an inference based on the child's actual age, maturity level, and awareness of the environment around him or her. This can spell disaster if something happens while a parent or guardian is not home; according to some countries, if a child gets injured whilst no one is at home to watch them, it's considered a form of willful harm. This means that a parent is viewed as responsible and may potentially be charged for leaving a child home alone, and not exercising their right as a parent to make sure someone was home with their child to prevent them from said injury. Therefore, while there are no rules in these countries in place stating when a child is allowed to stay home alone, parents are still responsible for that child under they're 16 years of age.
14 When Children Are Taken Away From Parents
A child is taken away from their parents because of rules that protect them from situations where it's been deemed that intentional or unintentional harm is being done mentally or physically. In this situation, the parents lose their rights as parents.
A very vague and short summary of these reasons can be anything like long-term mental illness, excessive illegal use of various substances or products, any act that's considered to be ignoring the child, or, of course, anything that is causing significant negativity.
A history of crime or being arrested can also terminate a parent's rights, resulting in the enactment of this process. Specifically, in some cases, there is the petition requesting foster care and/or adoption. The logistics behind this process are long and thorough, and above all, the point is to ensure that the child's physical, mental, and emotional well-being are taken care of first and foremost. Certain places even take this a step further and consider the child's wants and needs in regards to their parents, as well as the level of attachment and their cultural background. Dealing with these issues makes it an extremely sensitive and tender process for the child, but it's a rule that rightfully protects them and not their parents under the event of termination.
Possibly the most familiar of all child laws that definitely protects the child and not the parent, is emancipation. It's a process that maintains the notion that a child is representing themselves as an adult in the sense that they are financially stable in some way, have a solid living situation with a roof over their head and are going to school or in the process of obtaining a diploma. Emancipation can be enacted for some minors as young as 14 in certain places, but for most, teens need to be at least 16 to emancipate their parents.
This process protects the child by effectively severing the ties between themselves and their parents, giving them the right to care for themselves rather than legally be taken care of by their parents. It's a painful process to the parents but something necessary in order for a child to improve their well-being and have a better quality of life.
That being said, there's a very specific process that follows emancipation, which is as follows: A petition specifying the details being the emancipation as well as proof of financial stability, some sort of notification to the child's parents or in some cases a reason for why they choose not otherwise, a court hearing in which the judge declares a ruling, and finally, a Declaration of Emancipation if the right is so granted by the judge overseeing the case. This declaration is to be presented to anyone needing proof of a minor being legally responsible for themselves and serves as legal protection.
12 Child's Earnings And Services
The laws surrounding money in regards to a minor are quite interesting, if only because of how they've evolved over time. Initially, the common law stated that the father of a child held all the rights to a child's paycheck. As the world grew and changed, so did the laws protecting children and their earned income. Since changing this law, certain states have given full rights to a child's income to both parents equally unless otherwise specified, as in the event of a legal guardian rather than a biological parent. In addition to this law, some states took a child's rights even further and created a law that specifically protects them and their wages, rendering parents obsolete when it comes to seeing anything their child makes.
With new rules that were put in place in the 1930s, any significant income that a child makes or comes by is to be placed in a trust fund until they've matured. For most states, this means that children will have full access to their trust funds the day they turn 18.
Again, these laws vary from state to state but the purpose remains the same: To protect that which belongs to the child. The reason for these laws was to prevent parents from greedily taking their child's earnings and spending them, leaving the child with virtually nothing by the time they've reached adulthood.
11 Child Support Laws
In the event that two parents go through a divorce, many of the laws surrounding it have been put in place to protect the child or children affected. One of the most common and enforced laws is that which states the responsibility of providing child support to all children involved so long as they're minors. Every child support arrangement is different and varies from state to state, with many claiming different rights as far as the maximum age limit to stop receiving monetary gain as well as the percentage of it.
The main purpose of child support is quite literally what it says: To give support in the form of monetary amounts to the child to ensure they have everything they need for a good quality of life, post-divorce finalization.
The common law states that parents can stop providing child support to children who have reached an adult age as pre-agreed upon in court unless the child or children are disabled mentally or physically and require constant support throughout their lives. In most cases, if a child or children live with their mother, it's their father who will be required to pay child support to his kids. Unless a parent is not biologically related to a child in which case he may not necessarily be required to provide monetary support -- The exception to this is if stepchildren are living with their step parent and not their biological parent, in which case the stepparent will be financially responsible. In the event that a biological parent is no longer in the picture, a child may be entitled to welfare rights as well. Failure to meet child support requirements, depending on the state laws, can result in charges of contempt, jail time until payment is made, garnishing of tax refunds and wages, probation, revoking of a driver's license, etc. This is all done to protect the child and their rights and 100% hold parents accountable for what their children are entitled to.
10 The Parents Are Liable For Their Child's Serious Misbehavior
This is the more severe form of the laws that hold parents accountable for their children's little mis-steps.
When broken down, it consists of holding a parent responsible for the criminal actions of a child as a minor -- fairly self-explanatory until you note what's included in that category.
The things included on the list of charges spawning from criminal parental liability (and we'll go further in-depth with these shortly) include possession of a weapon, internet access specifically including computer hacking, and delinquent youth.
It's obviously not illegal for someone who is also a parent to own a weapon, but depending on state laws a parent is responsible to follow certain rules when keeping one in the house. If a child causes serious harm to someone else, the penalty escalates if the parent is held responsible for the action through the events previously stated that led to it. As far as internet laws, the circumstances surround them are indicative of the penalties parents may face. Amongst those may be various criminal charges for illegally downloading or pirating music or other media, involvement in illegal internet activities, and hacking computer sites or systems to skirt certain fees. Many of these are not in compliance with the Copyright Act, which means minors are breaking a federal law by doing so, in which case their parents may be held responsible if they're under the age of 16.
9 Juvenile Crime Online
More specifically, your child might have engaged in illegal activity online without even realizing it. Most of the time this happens when kids are left unsupervised and end up sucked into the glorified idea of surfing the web, and before they know it, they've downloaded a million things and bought 20 random items with someone else's account info. It's easy to fall prey to an online scam, but sadly many can result in criminal charges that could potentially fall on the parents of the child who has done the deed. Because of the internets' existence within a computer screen, young minors often are not aware that the things they're doing have real consequences in the outside world.
Amongst the activities they might be involved in that could potentially fall back on their parents are taking various identities without realizing it to make online purchases, unintentionally joining a group that shares copyrighted content, creating fake accounts that have very real consequences for the site that stores them, being influenced by other internet surfers and persuaded, etc.
One rule states that parents are held just as responsible as their children are for any crimes that result in fatality, some kind of property damage, or a personal injury. This means that your child's illegal music-swapping could potentially lead to criminal Copyright charges for you as their parent.
8 Parents Are Responsible For Their Children's Little Misbehaviors
Civil liability means anything that is non-criminal in nature.
While civil parental liability sounds like it comes with less harsh consequences than a criminal parental liability, don't be fooled by the use of "civil" rather than "criminal". Civil liabilities are still a crime and often include many of the childish pranks that kids often pull for attention or out of rebellion. Many of these cases have consisted of crimes such as vandalism whether it's to a government or a school property, the defacing of public property, and any kind of slur or damage to a structure representing a group. There's a difference between "kids will be kids" and "my kid committed a crime", and unfortunately in some places, parents can absolutely be held accountable for the actions that their children have taken.
The lack of supervision of a child who, in the eyes of the law, very much needs it, is considered a crime in itself.
If a parent is aware that a child needs extra supervision and refuses to do so to ensure the child does not commit a civil crime, then he or she is subject to the charges and/or fines that come with it. Some states don't just restrict this to parents, but extend responsibility to include whoever was meant to be supervising the child at the time the crime was committed.
7 If The Kid Misses School, The Parents Could Be Locked Up
This law is one that has made its way into the news several times, as sadly in one case, a mother who was arrested on the account of a decade of unpaid truancy fines, tragically passed away while serving a 48-hour jail sentence. This happened in Pennsylvania, but there are many other states who follow suit as far as fining the parents of children who skip out on school. Berks County, in particular, has a track record of fining and having parents arrested whos' students cut classes -- roughly 1,600 parents, to be exact. The trouble comes when they can't pay the fees incurred by their children ditching school as fines fall between $20 to $1,500 for many places. Many schools consider children missing up to ten half-days to be delinquent and subject to truancy fines. Each school will vary on this offense depending on their rules surrounding each local district in accordance with the state's conditions for repeat truancy offenders, but the fines are one thing they all have in common. Sadly, it's probably the most iconic example of laws that protect the children by making them virtually exempt from the situation, while nailing their parents for fines to buffer their school absence.
6 When Withholding Visitation Becomes Kidnapping
The laws that are put in place during divorces can often be messy and harsh, and one of them is fairly strict when it comes down to what a court has ruled. Despite what a judge has ruled on custody rights, many parents believe in the notion that it's still up to them when a parent can and can't see their other parent. Legally, altering custody agreements is against the law and is not allowed. Even if a parent has failed to make payments for child support or has an ongoing feud or significant negative feelings towards the other parent, a custody arrangement is still in place for a reason and can't be broken. Just as a parent who doesn't have custodial rights may still be legally required to make child support payments, a parent who has custody rights can't have them taken away unless otherwise specified by the court.
In the case of a parent withholding a child for longer than their custody agreement states, the other parent can take significant legal action and go as far as pressing kidnapping charges. While it might not even be kidnapping to the child or parent in question, in the court's eyes, any type of child-withholding during a finalized custody agreement is seen from a legal perspective.
This is to protect the child from any negative consequences of parents feeling the need to retaliate or potentially use the child as a gain against the other parent.
5 Poor Parenting Get Punished
Poor parenting laws are enacted in the event of outright and all-around poor parenting. Poor parenting can result in a minors' contribution to criminal acts and parents can be held responsible, lawfully so.
These rules quite literally mean that a parent has in some way encouraged or persuaded their child to commit an offensive crime that requires legal action.
These laws are a way for prosecutors to take legal action against parents who are not involved and oftentimes actively disengaged in their parenting, resulting in kids essentially running wild without any discipline or guidance. In the event that a parent encourages a child to do something illegal such as stealing, causing damage, or simply just refusing to reinforce a steady school schedule, parents can and will be held responsible under these laws. They're in place to prevent parents from encouraging illegal behavior for their kids, and while no one wants to believe that there are parents who commit these types of crimes, they do happen from time to time. The good news is that these laws protect the children who end up as the victims of such heinous crimes and hold their parents responsible for breaking them.
4 Rights During Divorce
Many, many laws around the world for children revolve around divorce. Because it's something that doesn't discriminate against age, kids need these laws in order to have a say in their own lives and their own well-being.
Of those laws that surround the act of divorce are whether or not a child has a say in whom he or she wants to live with. This varies significantly from place to place, but in many cases, a child can have somewhat of a say when they're 12 years of age.
This, by no means, requires that a judge listens to the child or children as far as who they wish to live with goes. A child is able to legally meet with a judge or, more rarely, testify in court and declare who they'd rather have full custody. The final decision will come down to the judge; who may take into consideration the wishes of the child but will ultimately base the decision off of who is better equipped and stable enough to take primary care of the child. There are many options for children who want a say in who they live with, including the right to their own lawyer or a counselor who can function as a witness in court and speak on their behalf. This right protects the child while giving the feeling of being involved and not pulled back and forth in a court of law.
3 Car Laws
Laws put in place for minors should be one of the most well-known and followed laws in the country, but for some reason, many parents still don't consider them to be concrete.
It doesn't matter if a seatbelt makes your child uncomfortable or if they can't stand feeling restrained, seat belts are there to potentially save their lives and keep them safe. Parents who don't follow these rules are bound to face fines amongst other potential charges for refusing to do so.
Not being tall enough to use a seatbelt is no excuse, most places require children to use a booster seat if they're too small for the seatbelt. Some kind of safety measure must be in place at all times in order for a minor, any child under the age of 16, to ride in the car. In recent years, laws have even be enacted to keep kids under a certain age out of the front passenger seat to reduce their risk of airbag injury. All of these laws carry significant consequences for the parents who don't abide by them. From extensive fines to driver's license points, parents can face a myriad of penalties for allowing their underage children to take a seat in the passenger seat of a car.
2 Convention On The Rights Of The Child
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is a list of articles put in place by Unicef to ensure the general well-being and overall health of a child. These articles are listed from 1 to 54 and are valid for any child who is under the age of 18.
Articles one through nine are descriptive of various aspects of a child's home life as well as what they're entitled to, such as proper care, non-discrimination, and various rights including identity, survival, who to live with, guidance, etc.
Unicef has enacted these rights strictly to protect the child and not necessarily punish the parent for not abiding by them but to ensure that each child has the right to an equal and fulfilling childhood. The rights up to Article 19 describe situations where the government should step in such as kidnapping, family unification, and respecting the child; as well as various freedoms a child has rights to. These freedoms are the same as defined in many countries and do not differ simply because a child is not legally viewed as an adult yet. Up to Article 30, a child's rights are listed to include various health care and health rights as well as adoption, rights of refugee children, and education. The remaining rights listed are in place to provide legal support to minors and include various crimes and what children have the right to. These rights all correlate to specific laws whether on the state-level or internationally, and serve as a detailed description of how children are protected separately from their parents.
1 Ratings Are There For A Reason
Many times parents gain points with their kids by sneaking them into an non-PG-rated movie or allowing them and their friends to rent something that has a non-PG-rating, but this has legal ramifications as well. All of the ratings you see in various movies, television shows, and video games are in place because of the content they contain.
In the some places, DVDs are rated based on whether or not the content depicted in the media can cause mental issue to a child or encourage them to go out and cause wrongdoing to others.
While this is certainly not going to say that any or all media causes children to go out and repeat what they see, it prevents kids from seeing certain things at an impressionable age. In some places, it's against the law for parents or caretakers to show these inappropriate ratings to kids who do not meet the minimum age requirements -- Just like in other places it's discouraged to bring underage kids to a non-PG-rated movie. It takes some time for children to learn right versus wrong and certain media can cloud their judgment and portray something confusing, resulting in poor consequences further down the line.
References: rbkc.go.uk, unicef.org, ghsa.org, divorcereality.com, lawyers.com, familylawrights.net, theguardian.com, family.findlaw.com, solanocounty.com, family.findlaw.com/parental-rights-and-liability, law.jrank.org, nolo.com, family.findlaw/parental-rights-and-liability, family.findlaw.com