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Parents Are Fined For Teenagers’ Abuse

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February 25, 2010 Crime And Trials, News & Oddities 1 Comment

A ruling by a judge in Milan sets a new landmark: The parents of five teenage boys who repeatedly raped a young girl have been ordered to pay her compensation totalling €450,000. It is important to note that the fine was not imposed for the parents’ failure to supervise the teenagers appropriately, but for their apparent failure to give their sons an “education in feelings and emotions”.

The girl was 12 at the start of the abuse, and the boys were two or three years older. In assessing damages, Judge La Monica took into account the psychological damage to the victim and the fact that after the rapes she had left school early, thereby curbing her future earning prospects. (Read more from John Hooper, at The Guardian: Italian judge fines parents of rapists for failures in upbringing).

In a sense, I agree with the ruling, as I find it hard to argue that parents should not be held accountable for their minor childrens’ behaviour. The severity of the sentence also stresses the gravity of rape as a crime, and draws a sharp distinction to any experiments among minors that may be deemed normal. Perhaps because of this, I am rather startled not to read of any educational measure or sentence imposed on the teenagers directly. To me, the verdict seems quite unusual: A harsh punishment for the parents, without an educational measure for the teenage boys.

Here, one question is – not in any way disrespecting the deserved compensation to the victim – whether the sum of money imposed is a reasonable punishment for the parents of the teenage boys. John Ala on his blog “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Oscar” puts it like this:

Four-hundred and Fifty Thousand Euros is nearly Six Hundred,and  Eighteen Thousand U.S. dollars. That is one crushing fine. The mind boggles at such an amount. Is such a punishment within the bounds of reason? It feels like overkill at first blush. Parents do need to be held accountable for the actions of their minor children, but must they be ground down into a powder? Rape is a horrible crime, there is no denying that fact. It is up to society to make clear it does not tolerate crimes that violate the very being of its citizens ; but this? Is not a little mercy in order? Maybe the parents tried to do their level best with these awful boys and failed. Sociopaths seem to have a genetic dimension to their behavior. Sociopathy does seem to have deeply ingrained and incurable pathology. While not all people are intrinsically evil, some people do at least appear to be so. (Read more here: A bridge too far?)

The italian article on the verdict, published by Corriere della Sera (Violentano ragazzina, puniti i genitori), has led to intense discussions, generating 15 pages of comments. Two of the most thought-provoking I found to be the following:

  • You speak of teenage foolishness. But rape is on a whole other level! It indicates not having understood even the most basic rules of respect between human beings. Everything in terms of basic morality is missing in such a human being. And I believe that the parents must be responsible for at least an overwhelming part of such a lack of basic moral and emotional education. (Tu parli di cavolate, bravate, ragazzate. Lo stupro è un’altra cosa! Vuol dire non aver capito neanche le minime regole del rispetto tra esseri umani. Vuol dire che manca tutto, che quella persone è totalmente priva di una minima moralità. E questo, ribadisco, secondo me, è colpa, anche e soprattutto, dei loro genitori.)
  • One needs to remember that the causal link between education received and behaviour presented does not correspond to an exact mathematical formula. (Ma si ricordi che non è una regola matematica che ad una educazione ricevuta corrisponde un comportamento conseguente.)

What do you think? Does the verdict make sense to you? Let us know in the comments.

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Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Keith says:

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    I appreciate that a lot of blame seems logically planted at the feet of the parents. But I have a big issue with this on two fronts. First, society has a much larger impact on most children than their parents do (as they spend much of their childhood being raised by the state at schools, and much by their peers). Secondly, there is a small problem of the fact that it is entirely contrary to basic human rights. We don’t convict family members for other peoples crimes. A nation is not culpable for the crimes of a few, and a brother, sister mother is not culpable for the crimes of one in the family. The mafia certainly do, but the state really shouldn’t.

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