Current Perspectives and Support for Parental Responsibility Laws

Eve Brank, University of Florida
Stephanie A. Hays, University of Florida

ABSTRACT
Parental responsibility laws have developed as a proposed answer to juvenile delinquency. Little empirical work has been conducted involving these laws or the public's perception of the laws. A series of three individual studies and a combination study were conducted to examine the lay and legal perceptions of parental responsibility. In the combination study, a fractional factorial design was employed in order to examine the main effects of a large number of independent variables and a select number of interactions, while still maintaining appropriate power levels for the sample size. The independent variables of interest included type of crime (person or property), premeditation of crime (yes or no), seriousness (high or low), age (16 or 9), juvenile's mental capabilities (low functioning or normal functioning), gender (male or female), and ethnicity (same as respondent's or different). We examined perceptions and support by using scales constructed to measure notions of parental blame, responsibility, and punishment. Implications of the public's apparent lack of support will be discussed in relation to the current state statutory trends.

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Updated 05/20/2006