Mayor wants to punish parents for children’s behaviour

Poorly behaved children cost their parents dearly under Frank Jensen’s new crime plan

Parents who are unable to raise their children properly could face financial repercussions if Copenhagen’s mayor, Frank Jensen (S), is re-elected this November.

Jensen has proposed a new initiative, dubbed  'Mindre kriminalitet' (‘Less criminality’), which includes the possibility of parents have their quarterly child allowance payments (børnecheck) docked if their children are heading towards a life of crime.

“If the children don’t sleep at home, continuously skip school or if there is no contact with the parents, then the social authorities must take action,” Jensen said. “Therefore, we must use more sanctions so that parents of children under the age of 15 who are heading towards crime are reminded that they have a responsibility.”

Crazy idea
But Mikkel Warming (EL), the deputy mayor for social affairs, said that Jensen’s proposal was undermining the progress that the council’s social workers are making with socially-vulnerable families in Copenhagen.

“Frank Jensen is looking at this in a crazy way," Warming told Politiken. "Parental sanctions are one of a number of tools that social workers have at their disposal and I believe that they are the best judge of what to use. I’ve never said not to use parental sanctions, but there is a reason why the councils rarely use it. It doesn’t work and this is just about the election [for Jensen].”

A survey from 2010 showed that just 26 out of 85 councils that responded had used parental sanctions. No council had used the sanctions more than three times.

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City's been too soft
Jensen said that the lack of parental sanctions has increased the risk of children ending up in crime.

“I don’t think that the parental sanction option has been utilised enough. We have been very reserved about using it and that must be because it hasn’t been strongly supported politically from the leaders in social services,” Jensen said.

Jensen’s 'Mindre kriminalitet' proposal contains 23 steps that are designed to ultimately reduce crime in the capital.

Jensen presented the proposal last night at Cafe Viking in Nørrebro. The pub's owner, 'Mamma Jane', famously put her foot down in the face of a criminal extortion racket last year.

Read the entire Frank Jensen proposal here (in Danish).

Factfile | Frank Jensen's crime plan

Aside from the parental sanctions, Frank Jensen’s 'Mindre kriminalitet' proposal also includes:

  • A zero tolerance of anti-social behaviour in all public schools in Copenhagen
  • Offering vulnerable families with children parenting courses and extra visits at home by a social health worker
  • Fighting gang activity by closely co-operating with the police
  • The improvement of 50 ‘unsafe’ areas in Copenhagen, including Nørrebro, Christianshavn and some downtown areas.
  • A restoration of vulnerable residential areas in the city, including Mjølnerparken in Nørrebro, Sydhavn and Tingbjerg in the northwest suburbs