A Parent’s Liability for a Child’s Behavior at a Sleepover

Recently, there was a story that spread across the country about an 11-year-old girl in New York who was severely burned while at a sleepover. While the 12-year-old who caused the injury was arrested and charged with felony assault, the question that many had was whether or not the parents could be held liable for the actions of their child.


The question of whether or not the parents should be considered responsible for personal or property damage caused by their minor children is a serious one, and in some cases one that will need to be answered by a criminal law attorney. In addition to being a question asked when one child is in another’s house, it also applies to schoolyard fights, shoplifting by a child and more. Here you can learn more about the law, and whether or not you may be held liable for your child’s actions.

Traditional and Common Law Rules Related to Liability

According to the common law (which is the legal rules the country inherited from England and that still apply in some cases), parents are not generally held responsible, because they are parents alone, for things their child did. The law requires something more, such as proof that the parents knew the child had the potential to act in a certain way and they failed to take action.

Modern Approaches to Parental Liability for their Child’s Actions

During the 1960s, various legal scholars made the suggestion that a model approach be adopted by several states. This modified the rule mentioned above and required more parental responsibility. This was referred to as the “restatement.” In this set of guidelines, there was a way to distinguish between the careless acts of a young child and one who was older, noting that the parents have much more control over someone younger, than teenagers. It also states that parents have more responsibility to control the younger child, and a higher liability if they don’t.

However, even with restatement, different interpretations may produce different results. In the long run, everything is taken back to the common law.

Civil and Criminal Liability for Children’s Acts

In some cases, a parent can be considered responsible and face both civil charges and criminal charges due to the actions of their child. The parents in the above-mentioned case may or may not face charges as a result of their daughter’s actions at a sleepover. It is best for anyone in this situation to contact an attorney for clarification on their personal liability in such a case.

If you need more information about liability for your child’s actions, contact the attorneys from the Law Office of Jeffrey Thompson by calling 321-253-3771. They can help ensure you receive the representation that you deserve for the case or situation that you are facing.

Additional Reading

What To Do When Your Child Is Charged As An Adult

The Four Assault-Related Charges In Florida

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