Parents fined $200 if kids run wild
March 21, 2008 12:50am
- Western Australia introduces fines for parents
- Move is an Australian first
- Fine watered down from $2000 to $200
IN an Australian first, courts in Western Australia will soon be able to order chronically negligent parents to attend parenting classes or face a $200 fine, in a crackdown on anti-social behaviour by children.
Despite anger over gangs of children creating havoc in some suburbs, the controversial legislation took almost three years to get through parliament due to Opposition concerns about its punitive approach to parenting.
But it was finally ticked off this week after the Government agreed to slash the intended fine from $2000 to $200, and withdrew plans to allow household goods to be seized from families if they refused to pay.
Opposition child protection spokeswoman Robyn McSweeney said the $2000 fine was crazy and the thought of seizing goods from disadvantaged families was ridiculous.
"In many cases, the only non-essential goods they have are TVs, radios and the kids' skateboards," she said.
"If you take away their only entertainment, there's even more pressure to go out and be involved in mischief."
Despite initially opposing any fine, Ms McSweeney said the $200 penalty could help motivate more parents to act responsibly, but not devastate their families if they refused. Parents would now face community work orders if they did not pay.
Child Protection Minister Sue Ellery said the landmark legislation would compel parents to accept help when their children repeatedly caused trouble such as using threatening behaviour or spraying graffiti.