Punishing the right parents

Local friends were refused permission recently to take their children out of school for a few days in order to enjoy a family holiday; they took them, nonetheless but are concerned that they will now face a fine.
Last week there were reports of two killings by teenagers, one thirteen, the other fourteen. The Times did not so much as  mention their parents, let alone suggest that they might face sanctions or claims for compensation for the violent mayhem brought about by their offspring. One of them was already a heavy drinker and had taken a knife to a party.
Nor was there any consideration for the killers whose lives are now ruined. At whose door should they lay responsibility for their wild lives? Their parents’ for neglecting or abandoning them? Those who took advantage of failing parenthood and channelled the boys and their energies into destruction? Social services and the police for not spotting and reacting to earlier warning signals? The courts for leaving them at liberty?
Had it been dogs that carried out such  savage attacks their owners could have faced jail. Dangerous teenagers, however, so much more dangerous than any dog, are not the responsibility of their parents.
Sadly, for both the victims of adolescent killers and the victims of failed parents, while parents continue to face such contradictory expectations we must not be surprised by such dreadful outcomes.
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