A lack of parental responsibility for young offenders? A developmental approach to the adolescent risk-taking stage

Sabbagh, Muna (2016) A lack of parental responsibility for young offenders? A developmental approach to the adolescent risk-taking stage. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


Parental responsibility for young offenders is a social construct which is ambiguous and taken for granted. The responsibilisation of parents and carers not only makes them culpable for their child's criminal conduct but generalises the parenting role, giving insufficient attention to differentiating factors; for example, generalisations in relation to ethnic minority groups and gender-specific issues. Therefore, the concept needs further examination than is provided by the current literature in order to clarify its inferences aimed at parents, whose personal circumstances differ. The current literature in this area focuses on the concept of parental responsibility, either being a cause of youth offending or as a rationale for unnecessary state intervention into family lives. However, based on the rights of the child as an offender, this thesis argues for a clearer understanding of the phrase 'a lack of parental responsibility' when attributed to parents of young offenders. This thesis gives greater clarity to the social construct of parental responsibility for young offenders by drawing on the disciplines of law, criminology, psychology and economics. The developmental approach proposed by Professor Rutherford is highlighted as an alternative form of intervention aimed at young offenders in contrast to formal state intervention. The approach proposes use of the family, school and community as means of diverting young offenders away from reoffending. This thesis expands on the approach by identifying specific methods of implementation into these institutions in order to ensure the child's rights are met. Therefore, this thesis brings to the fore the recognition of parental autonomy in relation to young offenders rather than the traditional view of parental accountability for their child's conduct. It analyses the elements that make up a lack of parental responsibility, which contributes to the existing literature in this area, and the implications the phrase has for legal and social policy.

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