Laws holding parents responsible and accountable for the damages and injuries caused by their minor children have existed since the 19th Century. It was first passed in Hawaii where the parents were the lawmakers impose civil liability to the parents of minor children regardless of their absence of criminal intent or negligent act or omission. Based on these laws, it is not necessary that the parents committed any criminal act, it is sufficient that parent-child relationship exists to establish liability.
The present laws imposing responsibility to the parents is based on the laws in Hawaii. What makes the present law different is that its scope is broader in terms of monetary amount. Moreover, the present laws have expanded parental responsibility to include acts which are not criminal in nature but nevertheless cause damage to anther – tortuous acts.
Parental Responsibility Laws are similar to the concept of vicarious liability. This is a principle in tort law that imposes liability to another for the acts of another person. For example, a company can now be held liable for discriminatory acts that take place inside the workplace if it is found that it does not have any policy that protects the employees against discrimination. School administrators can also be held liable for the acts of their students if it is found that they did not exercise reasonable care and precaution to prevent the injury caused by one of its students against another.
The intention behind the imposition of civil liability to parents is to address the injury caused by his minor child to another. If a child causes injury to another then somebody has to should the expenses incurred because of the injury. It also involves the parents in the fight against juvenile delinquency. Under the threat of civil damages, it is hoped that the parents will supervise and monitor the activities of their children better.
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