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Parents’ Legal Responsibilities

(File photo: Joe Raedle/ Getty Images)

(File photo: Joe Raedle/ Getty Images)

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - As the long summer wears on and kids begin to find trouble, you may wonder: can you, as a parent, get into trouble if your kid does something stupid?

The father of a kid who got into a car accident in Rapid City, South Dakota last month showed up at the site of the car accident and got himself arrested for disorderly conduct after he started swearing at the police officers. That’s teaching by example. That genius wasn’t arrested for his kid’s accident, but for his own bad behavior.

But there are cases where a kid’s wrongful act can lead to a parent’s arrest because there are laws that impose requirements on parents to be responsible, and where they aren’t and the kid commits a crime, it’s the parent who can be charged – not for the crime itself but for failing to take responsibility.

For example, there are a whole host of crimes that parents can be charged with if the kid gets a parent’s gun that isn’t properly secured. And parents are required by law to supervise kids to ensure that they go to school and when parents don’t, the parent can be charged with a summary offense. They also are not allowed to serve kids alcohol – but even just being aware that their kids are drinking alcohol can get parents charged.

And, if the kid gets into an accident, the parents have to pay for the damage.

Makes you wonder if a spa gift certificate on Mother’s Day and a bottle of Old Spice on Father’s Day is really all it’s cracked up to be.