COPPER?S BOOT: Clarence MP Steve Cansdell wants parents to be held responsible for the lawlessness of their children.
COPPER?S BOOT: Clarence MP Steve Cansdell wants parents to be held responsible for the lawlessness of their children.

Sticking in the boot

By TOBY WALKER

Cansdell wants parents punished for lawless kids CLARENCE MP Steve Cansdell has vowed to stick the boot into negligent parents with a tough new youth crime policy that would see mums and dads penalised for the crimes of their children.

If elected to government in 2007, the NSW Opposition would seek to legislate the new policy that Mr Cansdell believes would shift responsibility for youth crime back onto young offenders and their parents.

The proposed amendments to the Young Offenders Act and the Parental Responsibility Act would create a law to force parents to pay damages to victims of their children's crimes.

If parents failed to keep their children from re-offending they could face a 100-hour community service order.

Yesterday Mr Cansdell recalled his teen years in Dubbo, when the fear of a kick up the backside from the local police sergeant usually instilled enough fear to deter young people from committing crimes.

"It used to be known as 'the copper's boot', which everyone knows was often effective, although impossible to bring back in this day and age," he said.

"The trouble now is that parents aren't informed that their child has committed an offence until the third, fourth or fifth time ... until they've almost become entrenched in this anti-social behaviour and criminal pattern," he said.

"Before you know it they're facing courts, they've got a record, they're getting put into juvenile justice centres and then you've got this ongoing cycle where they progress onto correction centres and are in and out of jail.

"What we have to do is nip it in the bud early, make the parents aware early and if those parents are warned and warned of their child's behaviour and do nothing to rectify it then really they're negligent and they should be made accountable."

Mr Cansdell said the policy would be flexible enough to identify instances where parents could not control their children and would only be enforced if the parents' negligence could be proved.

He stressed that jail terms for errant parents had not been factored into the policy and said the community service orders would apply only to worst case scenarios.

CLARENCE Valley Community Programs chief executive Michael Foley said he saw the reasoning behind the policy but doubted it could succeed.

He believed making parents pay restitution to victims would just feed a vicious cycle of financial burden to families already struggling to pay their bills.

"I think it's got more negatives than positives," he said.

"I understand the reasoning that people should be held responsible ... but it's too much for some parents to handle.

"Maybe it will create a debate where people will realise that we all are responsible and we all do have a role to play but in terms of the concept,

it's definitely not the way to go at this stage."



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