Accepted under the previous Editorial Board.
Parental responsibility for the illicit acts of their children: Effects of age, type and severity of offence*
Version of Record online: 2 FEB 2011
2007 Australian Psychological Society
Australian Journal of Psychology
Volume 59, Issue 1, pages 43–50, May 2007
How to Cite
White, N., Augoustinos, M. and Taplin, J. (2007), Parental responsibility for the illicit acts of their children: Effects of age, type and severity of offence. Australian Jnl of Psychology, 59: 43–50. doi: 10.1080/00049530600944374
- Issue online: 2 FEB 2011
- Version of Record online: 2 FEB 2011
This study examines how parents attribute responsibility when their child commits an illicit act. Sixty-seven mothers and 26 fathers (N = 93), with care and control of a child between 10 and 18 years, attributed responsibility to the parent and child in eight hypothetical scenarios in which a child commits an illicit offence. Findings indicate that greater responsibility is attributed to the child than the parent. More responsibility was attributed to older children than younger children, while the parents of older children bear significantly less responsibility than parents of younger children who offend. Furthermore, offences of high severity warrant significantly more responsibility than offences of low severity. There was no main effect of type of offence, but this variable did interact significantly with the age of the offender and the severity of the offence. Perceived responsibility for the offences was also related to locus of control. These findings suggest that parents do not uniformly accept responsibility for the illicit acts of their adolescent children. The implications for juvenile crime will be discussed.