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Parents to be Held Liable to Damages on Behalf of Their Children's Crimes

Published torsdag 11 februari 2010 kl 14.20
Justice Minister Beatrice Ask presenting the proposal on Thursday

After many disputes and a lot of paper work the government has decided to make parents financially responsible for their children's mischief. A decision made in spite of many critical voices from major organisations and associations dealing with children.

It might seem self evident that parents are responsible for their children's doings but not in Sweden. Here children have been liable for their money handling themselves. But not any more. The government has decided today that now the parents will have to reach into their pockets no matter how shallow they might be and pay the maximum sum of about 1200 $ for their off-spring's wrong doings.

"For most people this is not such a big thing, because for them it is quite self-evident that parents are responsible for their children," says Beatrice Ask, minister of justice.

But not all agree. As the proposal passed different stages the majority of organisations and associations some dealing with children were critical.

The parents' association was one of them.

"This law proposal is made to prevent youth crime. I think that all parent are doing their best to keep their children out of criminality, this does not make it better or worse," says Paula Skånberg, vice president of the parents association.

But the children's ombudsman Fredrik Malmberg sees this law as a positive support for children, who today have to carry the liability of damages. This means some children start their adult life with debts.

"And we know that children who start their adult life with debts they have a very problematic situation," Fredrik Malmberg tells Radio Sweden.

Malmberg would prefer that society completely avoids damages for crimes committed by children, "but IF there is to be damages," he says "it would be more helpful if this is shared by the parent and not just put on the child like it is today." Malmberg gives the example of a nine year old boy who was told by the court that he should pay damages amounting to 275,000 US dollars.

The law will be implemented on the 1st September this year.

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