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Our View: Parents should be fined for letting their teens roam free during a lockdown

WE WOULD have hoped that this tradition with the bonfires would have been suspended now that the country is on lockdown. The weekend before the lockdown announced by the president on Monday, there had been plenty of firecrackers going off in the evening but we had thought this would have ended now that everyone was supposedly confined at home.

While the night-time explosions became less frequent, the building of bonfires for Easter, which is three weeks away, has not abated. Strovolos municipality workers cleared wood from seven different locations on Friday morning, said the mayor Andreas Papacharalambous. At one of the locations the municipality’s crew found a group of teenagers guarding the wood at 6.30am.

The teenagers should not have been there and Papacharalambous was quite right to ask, “where are the parents, where are the guardians?” It is the responsibility of parents and guardians to make sure the teenagers under their care respect the law and stay at home. Admittedly, it may be difficult for teenage boys – the bonfire guards were reportedly 15-year-old boys – to be kept indoors, but parents still have a responsibility to teach them to respect the law.

The teenagers had broken two laws – the one obliging them to stay in their house and the one banning the setting up of bonfires. Municipality workers have no authority to detain youths violating laws, but it may be an idea for the police to carry out an occasional patrol, if only to frighten off the teenagers. And if they catch one or two, they could charge the parent or guardian who are responsible for them.

This is done in cases when a teenager steals the car keys and drives a parent’s car so why can it not be done in a case when a teenager is violating the government decree and wandering about outdoors? It would be more difficult to prove he was responsible for building a bonfire, but being outdoors is an open and shut case. Once a parent or two is fined for allowing their kids to roam the streets the rest will take their parental duties more seriously.

On Friday two men were fined €400 each by Paphos district court for having stroll without the necessary authorisation. It was a harsh penalty, but the authorities wanted to set an example of the two men, in the hope that big fines would act as a deterrent for people considering ignoring the stay-home rule. Imposing a similar fine on a parent allowing their underaged offspring roam the streets would probably persuade other parents to keep their kids indoors, however difficult that may be.

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