Vice Speaker Nelson introduces ‘Parent Accountability Act of 2020’


(Hagåtña, Guam) – Vice Speaker Telena Cruz Nelson on Wednesday introduced Bill No. 310-35, the “Parent Accountability Act of 2020,” to hold parents accountable for the harmful actions of their children.

“For parents, it is a given that they do their absolute best to raise their children to not only be good citizens, but also virtuous individuals,” said Vice Speaker Telena Cruz Nelson, chairperson of the Committee on Education. “It saddens me that we have to craft a bill that holds parents accountable for the actions of their children, but our children are at risk.”

The Parent Accountability Act of 2020 proposes accountability measures including:

Holding parents and guardians liable for the cost of their children’s damages to:

· Property, persons, village, school district, religious or charitable organization, municipal corporation, or association, including shop lifting and personal injury attributed to a willful, malicious act, in addition to mandating family counseling

Bystanders who initiate, instigate, or incite malicious acts:

· May be dually charged with guilt established by complicity

· May be fined $1,000 per offense or mandated to attend family counseling

Empower minor victims of harmful actions by:

· Allowing victims of malicious acts, or their parents or guardians, to initiate civil action directly against the parent or parents of the child who committed the malicious act for the purpose of receiving compensation of at least $1,000 per offense and up to $5,000, in addition to all associated medical or therapy bills

· Any form of contact or retaliation by the aggressors or bystanders may be recognized as an additional offense and may be fined at least $1,000 per attempt and the victim will be given the option to obtain a restraining order from such persons

“Our children are no longer being raised with the values our grandparents instilled in us, values of compassion, empathy and support of everyone in our community,” Nelson said. “With this change in our society and culture, we now question the absence of discipline and guidance that our children need.”

Nelson added, “With advancements in technology, our children are heavily influenced by social media and forces outside their family that promote violence and segregate them from common humanity. These influences lead to the justification and glamorization of violence against others.”

The bill, cosponsored by Sen. Amanda Shelton, comes after repeated calls by education officials and school communities for tougher penalties for parents whose children pose threats to the safety and welfare of other students. In meetings with school officials after a Sept. 12, 2019, riot at John F. Kennedy High School, a separate riot at Tiyan High School on Sept. 26, 2019, and a fight between students at Okkodo High School on Oct. 11, 2019, administrators supported holding parents and guardians more accountable for their children’s actions.

“With this bill, I hope we can implore parents to extend their efforts and cling closer to their children, holding them accountable for their actions and instilling in them acts of humanity and kindness,” Nelson said. “We are accountable for our children’s actions. It is our duty to raise our children with love, faith and compassion.”

“Our children are our legacy. The children of Guam are our culture’s legacy. We need to ensure that we are doing our part to preserve a legacy of love, faith, compassion, empathy and unity.”

For more information, contact Tihu Lujan at the Office of Vice Speaker

Telena Cruz Nelson at (671) 989-7696 or senatortcnelson@guamlegislature.org.

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