Parents Could Be On The Hook For Children's Beach Behavior

Spring break group of young people dancing on a beach

Photo: apomares / E+ / Getty Images

Following disturbances at Jersey Shore boardwalks over Memorial Day weekend, New Jersey police chiefs and Republican lawmakers are advocating for parents to be held accountable for their children's unruly behavior. Incidents included a teenager's stabbing in Ocean City and large groups causing Wildwood to close its boardwalk overnight.

Officials have suggested that parents and guardians could be held responsible for any damages or disturbances in public. They blame juvenile justice reforms, which limit police actions against minors, for fostering an environment of lawlessness. They propose increased penalties and the creation of alcohol and cannabis-free zones.

Critics argue that current measures are insufficient to manage large, unruly crowds effectively. Some officials, including New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin, have blamed the towns themselves for not having enough police officers patrolling their boardwalks during the incidents. However, local officials and police supervisors from Jersey Shore towns, as well as the president of the statewide police union, blame a series of juvenile justice reforms New Jersey has enacted in recent years for emboldening teens and giving them the sense that there is little police can do to them if they are caught with alcohol or marijuana.

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