New Law To Punish Parents
26 July 2023
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By A Correspondent- Parents and guardians will now become liable for crimes committed by their children under the Children’s Amendment Act.

The newly-gazetted Children’s Amendment Act stipulates that parents who fail to discipline their children, leaving them to commit crimes, will be liable to criminal charges.

A parent or a guardian can be charged and convicted of an offence that a child commits if it is proven that they did not take reasonable steps to stop the child from committing the offence.

The Act was passed by Parliament last month and signed into law by President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently.

The law defines a child as anyone under the age of 18. Before, there was a distinction between children and young persons.

According to Section 13 of the Act, a parent or guardian who fails to prevent their child from committing a crime shall be punished for the offence that the child committed. It says:

Any person, including a parent or guardian of a child who—

(a) encourages a child to commit an offence; or

(b) trains a child in the commission of an offence; or

(c) knowingly provides a child with facilities to commit an offence; or

(d) being a parent or guardian of a child fails to take reasonable steps to ensure that the child does not commit an offence where the parent or guardian of the child was in a position to take such steps;

shall be guilty of an offence and liable to the penalties that could have been imposed on him or her had he been guilty of the offence that the child committed.

The law also says a parent or guardian “who, without reasonable cause, denies medical treatment or access to medical treatment to a child in their care can be fined up to level 5 or jailed for a year”.