I hope you don't mind me intruding, I was reading about Thomas Kelly and came across this thread along the way. I know it's been some days since someone last posted on it, but I just read all 21 pages and have thoughts swirling.
I have a son who was raised with all the love and guidance we had, he was never abused or neglected, he was taught right from wrong and disciplined, he was taught not to hit. He could be a difficult child - and we always worked with the teachers, counselors, experts, specialists. We gave him all we had. We weren't perfect, we made decisions we'd go back and change, but we tried.
He went through a short period at 16 where he went off the rails and out of control, alcohol was a big player, alcohol did not go well with him (he was raised by his stepdad but his father, who he never had a thing to do with, struggled with alcoholism). He got in some minor trouble, while we were still working with police, treatment and courts he kept escalating, he took off one night, got drunk, got into an argument with a boy he had a problem with and punched him in the face. The boy fell, hit his head, knocked unconscious. My son was fortunate, the boy suffered no lasting damage (it was a softer landing than a street). But at the point that you're punching someone in the head, it's a roll of the dice what happens next. I know the truth is my son could have killed someone that night. It would not have been intended or planned, but his actions were deliberate and violent, drunk or not. He did spend some months in custody.
It was the most heartbreaking time, for a long time we questioned what we had done wrong, how we had caused this, how could my child do that, where had we failed and let him down. We felt deserving of blame, we felt accountable and guilty. It was horrific to hear in court of the other mother's pain, of her son going out one night and in the middle of the night finding out he was in hospital. And knowing my son was responsible for that. It still breaks my heart to think 'what if...' and the pain that could have been.
I've been through a lot of soul searching. 3 years later, I know those were his actions, he didn't consult us first, it was not something we taught him. He made a terrible choice. I think you CAN point at parents for how a child reacts to something like this (I think that tells you more about accountability). My son was regretful and scared by what he had done and what he was capable of, he accepted his punishment and took a look at himself and (thankfully) at alcohol. He accepted help and worked on himself, he seemed to grow up fast, now he's 19, sweet and sober.
After this long ramble, someone once told me, you are responsible for your children's bad choices as much as you can take credit for their achievements. Parents (should!) give their kids the tools for life, what they do with that is up to them. I can't take the credit for him making the decision to leave a bad path either. Even though he was still legally a child at that stage, it was ultimately his choice. I'm definitely allowed to be proud of his response to his behaviour.
We were responsible for financial obligations as a result of this, which I agree with for under 18s (not that we paid them, our son paid them). But his actions were his.
I'm not sure why you're the recipients of this long ramble, I don't usually do this! Reading the thread brought up a lot of memories and feelings. It's tragic to read about Thomas Kelly and to think of all involved. I would wish it on nobody.