18 September 2008

12-year-old Girl drives Amok in Limerick

A 12-year-old Irish girl, who drove dangerously through the streets before crashing into a Garda (police) patrol car, has been granted bail at Limerick's District Court.

The Court was told that the girl, who cannot be named because of her age, was seen driving a van dangerously on the Dock Road in Limerick shortly before 4 am in the morning.

She was pursued by a Garda car through the city centre and was seen swerving from left to right on the road. She also broke through two sets of red traffic lights.

The patrol car's lights and siren remained on during the pursuit, and the young girl eventually collided with the Garda vehicle before she was arrested.

She appeared before the District Court on five charges of dangerous driving, causing criminal damage to a police car, and driving without insurance or licence. (In case no one in the legal system has noticed: there are no driving licences for children in this country!)

The girl was also charged with two further public order offences, dating back to July 17th. She was remanded on bail until September 30th and is ordered to observe a curfew from 8 pm to 8 am. (If she will do that is another question...)
The Probation Services are also to investigate the girl's circumstances and prepare a report for her next court appearance.

When I hear of such behaviour - and this is not the only case of its kind - I always ask myself the same questions: Where are the parents of the child? Are they incapable of controlling her? Or just unwilling to bring her up properly? Do they care at all? Or do they belong to the anti-social scum of which we have unfortunately way too much in Ireland?

It seems that we - as a nation - have already become used to such incidents, committed by wild youngsters out of control. But they are usually in their late teens. A 12-year-old, and a girl, that is - thankfully - not the norm.
But I suppose this is only the tip of a much larger iceberg. And whenever children appear in a Court and are charged with crimes, one does not see the parents, nor hears from them. Why not?

I am no lawyer, but I would suggest that a change of the law is more than overdue. It should be the norm that parents are fully responsible - in every form and way - for the behaviour of their child or children. And if children under a certain age (which legal experts and child psychologists should determine) are out of order or commit crimes, the parents - and not the child - should be responsible, charged and - if found guilty - punished according to the Law of the land.

Should we introduce such a legal principle, I am certain we would see the problems of vandalism and criminal damage, car theft, shoplifting and many other crimes committed by teenagers so often these days, drop drastically and perhaps even disappear completely. Parents would make sure that nothing happens that could drag them into trouble (at least after the first few parents are sent to prison for the crimes of their under-age children).
The question is if we, the people of Ireland and especially the politicians who represent and lead us, have the courage to put such a law onto the statute books. (Sadly, most bills passed into law lack common sense...)

In Germany (and some other continental countries) there is a yellow plaque - not larger than a 'foolscap' (A 4 size) sheet of paper - displayed at the entrance to every building site. In black letters it carries the following information:
Access to building site for
authorised personnel only.

Parents will be held
responsible for their children.

That's it. But not more is needed. Everyone understands the message, and keeps away. Parents are much more responsible for their children and their behaviour in Germany. And being aware of that (and its potential consequences), they give their children more time and attention than we do here in Ireland.

I think that a rule good enough for German building sites should well be good enough for Ireland, its unruly youngsters and failing parents!

The Emerald Islander

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Some kids are so out of control that the parents have no hope of controlling. It's a sad situation, but it's no excuse. These kids need some major discipline through the law if thats the case, and their background checks should accurately be reflected of crimes committed regardless of age. You employers has a right to know if you were a trouble maker when you were 12.

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