OP ED: Should Parents be Charged for the Children’s Crimes?

Another School Shooting Leaves Us with More Questions than Answers

Ethan and his parents arrested.

Ethan and his parents arrested.

Hannah Steinberg, Clubs Editor, Sophomore

School is sometimes a sanctuary for some to get away from issues at home or a place where they can learn and thrive surrounded by loving teachers and friends. Maybe to some it is the place they would least want to be, and can not wait to get out of it soon enough. No matter how one perceives going to school, they should never think of it as their gravesite. There have been more school shootings in 2021 than any other year since 1999, the tragedy at Oxford High School in Michigan being the 28th school shooting of 2021. This is appalling and shows that if anything our society has regressed and defined the normality of violence in America. The question school districts and governments across the United States have been asking themselves is, how do we stop this atrocity from occurring and prevent innocent lives from being taken? The most complex factor in the motive for the shooting is the family life of the aggressor. Should the parents be held accountable for the monstrous actions their child has performed?

The saying ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’ could not be more true in regards to violence. Any idea advocated, normalized, or even performed in the home can cause one to believe in the innocence of doing it themselves or believe that it is right to do. In regards to violence, if a child grows up hearing it is acceptable or expected of them to harm others, their actions will reflect what they have been taught. Additionally, if a child is on the receiving end of violence, they will strive to make others feel the same way they have felt when pain was inflicted upon them.

The gun used in the Oxford Shooting was bought by Ethan Crumbley’s father, James on Black Friday to purchase the semi-automatic handgun as an early Christmas gift for Ethan. A store employee confirms that Ethan Crumbley was present with James at the time of the purchase. The gun, Sig Sauer 9mm model SP 2022, is a gun with a proven track record of reliable performance in the hands of law enforcement professionals. Hence, this gun is not one for hunting nor other recreational purposes, but one with the intent of killing people. This gun has a hair-trigger and can shoot and cycle quicker than others, which is why it is not sold anymore. It is hypothesized that James bought it through a private seller, showing that he was not only aware of his son’s intentions but also went to great lengths to make it happen. It is a federal law that no one under the age of 18 can have access to guns, which is already one law the Crumbley’s have broken since they bought the gun for Ethan and left it unlocked in the parents’ bedroom. This proves how the parents are responsible for providing their son with the means to accomplish the shooting he had been fantasizing about, and their negligence, therefore, causing lives to be harmed, lost, and ruined.

What is even more alarming and disturbing about the parent’s actions and role in the shooting, is the fact that they had been warned twice about their son’s violent thoughts and plans. On Monday, the day before the shooting, when a teacher reported seeing their son searching online for ammunition, Jennifer Crumbley texted him, “LOL I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.” Parents are supposed to give their children guidance on what is right and wrong, and lead them down the path of success and being a good person. Not only did his mother not dissuade him from his dangerous plans, but the only fault she found in his actions was the fact that he was caught, which is disgusting and appalling. Jennifer’s lack of concern can rightfully be interpreted as support and encouragement of Ethan’s intentions. On the morning of the shooting, the Crumbley’s were urgently called to Oxford High School as a result of a concerning note one of Ethan’s teachers found of images of a gun, a person who had been shot, a laughing emoji, and the words “Blood everywhere” and “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me. My life is useless. The world is dead.” The school officials told the parents that it was essential they seek counseling for their son, but they refused since they did not want their son to miss school. They failed to even ask him whether he had the gun with him or search the backpack he brought with him to the office, showing how little thought and concern they put into the matter, and how this action from their son barely phased them. This was a cry of help from Ethan, and his parents left him at a time of need, dismissing his message as an ordinary occurrence and nothing worthy of extra attention. The lack of action the Crumbley’s took was a direct cause of the shooting. If they had simply acknowledged what their son was saying and doing, the shooting could have been prevented.

The actions James and Jennifer Crumbley did not take spoke louder than the ones they did take, which were simply just too late. There is an overwhelming amount of evidence that defines the ample opportunity Ethan’s parents had to prevent the shooting, they knew was going to happen. Only in the face of shots fired, did they speak up, which did no good. It would be wrong for one to not blame the parents for the shooting as well, not only for justice for the victims but for our country and the future shootings that are bound to happen.  A recent poll by The Detroit News supports this attitude. By a margin of 74.4%-8.9%, Michigan voters supported charging the parents of the teen charged with the Oxford shooting with involuntary manslaughter — 16.7% of voters were undecided.

We need to start holding people accountable for their roles in mass tragedies such as these, for that is the only way reforms can be made. It is necessary that the parents are charged for the crimes of the Oxford shooting, though the punishments they will endure will not even come close to the price the students at Oxford High School had to unfairly pay on behalf of Crumbley’s crime.