Letter: Parents should be held accountable for their children's behavior

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Where is “parental liability” in the issue of damage to property and persons caused by children in the Fargo Public Schools?

Under North Dakota Century Code 32-03-39 parents are responsible for damage caused by their children. Maybe it’s time for parents to be held accountable for the property damage caused by their children. There is a $1000.00 cap that can be awarded to them victim for real and property damages. Maybe it’s time for Fargo Schools to start using this law.

Also, under “common law” there is a case to be made for holding the parents responsible under “negligence, the ‘duty of care’ and accident/injury. If the parent is aware of the child’s destructive behavior and is not taking reasonable steps to change the behavior to a more socially acceptable behavior then the parent could be held responsible. There doesn’t seem to be a monetary limit.

Some, not all, parents are not doing what they can to guide, shape, control (you pick) their child’s behavior. If the parent is aware of the child’s misbehavior, and most are fully aware, then the parent needs to be looking for professional assistance to bring the actions of the child to a more acceptable behavior.

As parents we have an obligation to society to have our children behave in a socially acceptable manner. This is NOT the responsibility of the school district. Children, with few exceptions, should be able to behave in a safe manner toward other children and adults. Much of this behavior is instilled in a child prior to being school age.


I have been a parent of school age children in the Fargo school system; I have, also, been an employee of the Fargo school system (albeit many years ago). I was also a professional in the area working with parents and children with behavior and mental health issues. I know this topic from many, but not all, angles, and my experience is now dated. However, expectations of parents should not have changed in that time.

Parents need to send their children to school expecting their children to behave so their children and others in their environment will be safe and have a productive day. I believe it’s a reasonable expectation to hold parents accountable for most of the behavior, and consequences of that behavior, their children exhibit or to be actively working toward that goal. My heart goes out to the teachers, paras, and staff members experiencing these issues on a daily basis.

The handwriting (in some cases literally) was on the wall 30 years ago. The Fargo School Board needs to find ways to deal with these issues. Please, respect your employees as much as you respect the parents and children of the Fargo School District. Darlajean Harlow Sandy Lake,MB

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Darlajean Harlow

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