A new law in California means that judges can order the parents of convicted gang members to attend parenting classes.
The Parent Accountability Act gives judges the option of sending parents for training when their kids are convicted of gang crimes for the first time.
First Time Gang Parents Have Been Sent To School
State Assemblyman Tony Mendoza (Democrat – Norwalk), the lawmaker behind the new act, said this is the first time such an option has been available, although other court-mandated classes exist at the local level. The new law went into effect in January but, owing to budget problems, it is just now being tried out in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
“A lot of parents do not know how to handle teenagers,” Mendoza stated. “Now more than ever, parents need a guide.”
Maybe so, but the reality is that parents in gang neighborhoods are often struggling to survive, working more than one job, so is it fair to assign them to special classes?
These Classes Can Help
Some parents think so. From MSNBC:
Jose and Rosalva Rodriguez attended one of the first classes, which was held on two consecutive Saturdays at a high school in the San Fernando Valley. Their 16-year-old son had been accused of spraying graffiti when police arrested him at a party attended by gang members.
In addition to sentencing him to one year’s probation, community service and counseling, the judge ordered the parents to attend the class, where they heard about tough legal penalties levied against gang members and how they could get more involved in their kids’ lives.
“It was very important,” Jose Rodriguez said after driving an hour from Lancaster, a sprawling city in the high desert north of Los Angeles. “I’m going to speak to him, listen to him and give him advice.”
The 48-year-old baker said he learned how to spot the warning signs of gang involvement, including if his son was carrying markers that can be used for gang graffiti.
New Law Prosecutes Parents Of Truant Kids
This is not the only court-mandated program for parents in California. As I wrote in these pages earlier this year, a new law going into effect next year would let Californian officials prosecute parents when their kids are truant from school.
Are these laws a good idea? And is it fair to hold parents in contempt of court if they don’t attend their court-assigned classes? And will this tactic serve to reduce gang violence?
A Good Way To Reduce Gang Violence?
What do you think?
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