Dalhousie Journal of Legal Studies


Michelle Roy


On August 15, 2000, The Parental Responsibility Act, 2000 became law in Ontario. This Act holds parents financially accountable for any property destruction or damage intentionally caused by their children who are under the age of 18. Three years earlier, in 1997, Manitoba was the first province in Canada to introduce a separate act which makes parents legally responsible for the wrongful acts of their children. This paper compares the existing parental responsibility laws in Canada with those in the United States in an attempt to discern both the benefits and limitations of holding parents legally accountable for the actions of their children. On the one hand, parental responsibility laws may help to achieve greater justice for victims of crime. On the other hand, imposing a fine or jail term on a parent found civilly or criminally liable will only serve to exacerbate some of the problems at the root of youth crime, namely poverty and inadequate parental supervision and support. It is the author's opinion that parental responsibility laws are only "Band-Aid" solutions for combating youth crime. The parent-child relationship is not the only cause of youth delinquency. As a result, parental responsibility laws will only be effective in Canada as a means of addressing youth crime if they are combined with community based measures that address the root of youth delinquency.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.