Prosecuting Parents May Go Where Some Would Rather Not

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It’s tough being a parent. You start off with these little, helpless beings who you nurture and hope to help turn into someone who does all kinds of amazing things. There are so many points where one can screw everything up, or so it seems.


My oldest is an amazing person. I wish I knew what we’d done to make him that great because I’d put it in a book and never have to work another day in my life.

But I don’t know what I got right. That’s because parenting is hard. Who knows if I’ll get it right a second time with my daughter, who is still young enough that we won’t know for certain for a while.

A lot of parents, however, have kids that go a different direction than what they intended. One of those kids was the alleged shooter in the Oxford High School shooting.

Now, his parents are also facing prosecution. However, that may lead to some things that those celebrating that prosecution may not like.

A 15-year-old boy was the one who allegedly pulled the trigger and killed four of his classmates in a Michigan school shooting that wounded seven other people last month, but the county prosecutor charged the kid and his parents.

Charging the parents was an unusual step that signals prosecutors are looking, in the absence of gun control laws, to stop the bloodshed in our schools by holding anyone who contributes to the tragedy accountable. It’s a risky case to make and one that could ultimately embolden prosecutors to criminalize parents when their kids commit a crime and set a kind of precedent that will hit minority parents the hardest.

But there’s a danger here even if the prosecution prevails. Whenever the law is being used in a novel way that extends criminal liability, legal scholars say it often disproportionately is used against Black and marginalized people.

“What I am concerned about is that it’s going to legitimize the exercise of prosecutorial discretion that is very novel and that could be used in future cases quite unlike this to go after parents, who are perceived as not having exercised sufficient responsibility in supervising their children, who go on to commit crimes,” said Evan Bernick, an assistant professor at the Northern Illinois University College of Law, where he teaches criminal law and procedure.


To be fair, Bernick probably has a point.

Right now, the focus is on this kid and his parents with an understanding that it may expand to other mass shooters, but don’t expect it to stay there.

In time, this may well be applied to any child who gets their hand on a gun, especially since involved parents are more likely to catch that kind of thing before any other crime is committed. But what kind of kids typically end up in that kind of trouble? Minority kids.

As such, minority parents are going to find themselves up against it because their kid shot someone else.

Based on the typical leftist idea that any law that disproportionally impacts minority communities is inherently racist, then this prosecution in Michigan may well take us down a racist path.

No, I don’t actually agree with that idea, but if the left does then they should be made to play by their own rules.

As such, they really need to rethink whether they want to applaud the Oxford prosecution. More to the point, will they applaud it when it’s an inner-city black or Hispanic woman being held accountable for the actions of her child?

Somehow, I’m skeptical they will. I also figure they won’t recognize that they’re the reason it’s happening.


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