Cut parents’ benefits if children behave badly

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ARGUMENTS over the appropriate age of criminal responsibility are futile: complete cultural change is essential to prevent children from offending in the first place. (News, 3 November) Parents are the key element in this, and must be directly involved.

People who wish to benefit from inclusion in any ­society must accept responsibility for their own input into its ­operation.

Equally, those who reject such responsibility should 
forfeit the benefits and privileges of membership.

The state child benefit should take the form of a signed contract whereby parents agree to promote acceptable standards of behaviour in their children, accepting 
in return loss of payment in cases of sufficiently serious misbehaviour. That would include any antisocial activity, including school truancy.

Children are amenable to reasoned argument. In fact, it has been shown that even those not yet able to read can understand the system of formal contracts. They will, in fact, react more positively than most adults to any personal disadvantage resulting from breaking rules. Youngsters brought up in such an environment will positively influence their own and future generations.

Robert Dow, Tranent