Alarming situation: Teens dragging their parents in courts for neglect

In a recent incident a teen, Rachel Canning (18), sued her parents for throwing her out of the house and refusing to pay her college fee. The lawsuit filed by the teenager alleged that her parents had thrown her out of their Lincoln Park, New Jersey, home, which has left her financially insecure. She demanded in the lawsuit that her parents should pay the remaining tuition for her last semester at a private institute, pay her living and transportation expenses, and also pay the legal fees for the lawsuit she filed against her parents. This teenager has mentioned almost everything in her legal statement that can frame her parents on the grounds of parental neglect.

Background of the case

Earlier this month, a New Jersey judge denied Canning’s request for immediate financial assistance from her parents. Judge Peter Bogaard gave the ruling at New Jersey Superior Court and scheduled another hearing for April this year.

Earlier, Canning said in the court documents that she left her parent’s home under great emotional and psychological duress. She went the extra mile by saying that her mother called her “fat” and “porky” and that her father had threatened to beat her up. Meanwhile, her parents said their daughter left the house because she did not want to obey their rules.

The differences between the teenager and her parents emerged when she was suspended from school for truancy last October, according to court documents filed by her parents. Her parents intervened and told her not to see her boyfriend anymore, who was suspended from school for the same reason. Her car and phone privileges were also taken away. Instead of accepting the punishment, Canning left school and decided to run away.

Most allegations leveled by the teen against her parents were proven wrong by the New Jersey’s Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP). When DCPP investigated the incident, they concluded that the allegations of emotional abuse were unfounded.

Stephanie Frangos Hagan, a family law attorney and New Jersey State Bar Association family law officer, said to her knowledge, a case like this is unprecedented.

Though Canning is 18 years old, New Jersey law does not consider a person to be emancipated unless that person has left "the scope of his or her parents' authority", according to Hagan.

The verdict

Why do parents neglect their children? Well, most of the times, they don’t! A close look at the above case points towards typical teen behavior when their needs have always been met by the parents. Maybe, the judge also realized that the young girl needed undue independence from adult supervision. Cases touching on similar narratives have been recently making it into the media. As is the case with Canning, most of the times the problem lies with the teenager rather than the adults. Though evidence proves otherwise, but had the teen actually challenged her parents on the basis of facts and reality, the picture would have been entirely different. It would certainly have qualified as unfair treatment on the part of the parents and could have been identified as abusive methods. Teenagers have a responsibility towards their parents that is based on respect. Accountability is a part of life and parents should hold their children accountable. Who else would do that? Nonetheless, parents have all the right to withdraw privileges to an unreasonable child.

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