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Should parents be held accountable for violent crimes carried out by children

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BATON ROUGE – In the wake of a triple murder that left a toddler dead, many are discussing an increase in violence among kids and whether parents should be held accountable.

The Executive Director at Baton Rouge Children’s Advocacy Center says it's a complicated diagnosis and every case is different, but there's usually competing instincts at play.

“There’s the instinct to do the right thing, but it’s competing with the instinct to protect your child,” said Toni Bankston.

Bankson deals with children involved in traumatic situations. She says a major reason teens become drawn into illegal activities is due to a lack of structure.

"Particularly if there are parents or caregivers missing they will often turn to street gangs to fill that gap because they are looking for someone to look up to,” she said.

Multiple other juveniles were involved in the triple shooting last month, including one 15-year-old facing an illegal use of a weapon charge.

"I don't want to bash parents too much, because I also understand that problems are generational and sometimes parents themselves were not taught,” said Bankston.

Bankson says another factor that plays into juveniles getting involved in crime is the city and nation’s current state.

"It's a really vulnerable time for kids, young children and teens. Families are dealing with high levels of stress, there's a certain chaos that the pandemic brought about in our community,” said Bankston.

But whether the parents are at fault is up to law enforcement. District attorney Hillar Moore says there is no 'owner responsibility' law in the state.

"Encourage parents to be more alert and provide appropriate supervision and learn all they can learn before something tragic happens,” said Bankston.

There is a program within the Juvenile Detention Center that focuses on providing counseling to parents and their kids before an at risk teen finds themselves in court system.


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