A bill signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Nathan Deal will create new judicial power to make parents accountable for delinquent children.
Senate Bill 175 established parental accountability orders, a court mandate for guardians to help their children who are in need of services.
“It will give the court expanded ability to require parents to comply with provisions that the court wants to impose,” Juvenile Court Judge Lindsay Burton said.
An example Burton gave involved a child on probation for truancy, who would be ordered to go to school every day and possibly attend individual counseling.
“If that child doesn’t have a driver’s license and doesn’t have access to a car, it really takes the parent often times to get that child to individual counseling or to comply to some of the other terms of probation,” Burton said.
Violation of this order would be contempt of court, which can be punished by a maximum 20 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine, Burton said.
Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Avery Niles, who previously worked in Hall County law enforcement, praised the law for its insistence on parental accountability.
“The more accountability, the more parents can get involved with the day-to-day life of their child, the better off society will be,” he said.
An order could require a parent to make sure the child attends school, completes homework, studies, receives treatment and gets the needed transportation, according to the law.
Burton said if there are concerns about substance abuse, a parent can also be ordered to “enter into and successfully complete a substance abuse program approved by the court,” according to the law.
The judge said the law will ensure that children who need help are given every opportunity to get it.
“For the most part, parents want, obviously, to get their children the help that they need, so this is not something we’re going to have to use on every single case but on those matters where parents aren’t engaging as much in their children’s lives as we feel that they really need to,” Burton said. “This is just an extra tool for us.”