Mom of 9-Year-Old Killed in Gun Crossfire to Draft Ohio Legislation Holding Parents Accountable for Kids' Crimes

click to enlarge Saniya Nicholson - Scene Archives
Scene Archives
Saniya Nicholson
Nine-year-old Saniyah Nicholson was sitting in her mother’s car near Lee Road and Cloverside Avenue on June 20, when she was hit and killed by a stray bullet during a gun battle between six men, three of whom were juveniles.

Along with the newly-formed Black Women Commission of Cuyahoga County, the mother of Saniyah Nicholson, Marshawnette Daniels, is drafting state legislation that would hold parents accountable for the actions of their children with "Saniyah's Law."

The proposal was introduced Saturday morning, urging a change in the law that would require the parents of a child who commits a crime to be given a possible penalty of jail time, as well as subject the parents to the financial burdens of the crime including paying for crime scene clean up, property damage and losses, medical bills, funeral expenses and counseling. The proposal also states that children ages 13 and up who commit murder would be bonded over as adults.

“When do parents become parents? Parents are not parenting their children. I was parenting mine. I was with all three. This still happened. Their children commit murder? Well, they should go to jail. You should. I believe something like that will help parents become more accountable for their children," Davis told Channel 5.

Parental responsibility for the crimes of their children has been a longtime debate across the country, as many parents claim they are not responsible for the actions of their children, especially when they are unaware of their children's activities. These situations tend to target families of color in poor socio-economic situations, where parents are working long hours in order to provide for their children and are unable to monitor them as closely as they'd like.

In Ohio's Revised Code section 3109.10, a person is entitled to compensatory damages in a civil action, in an amount not to exceed ten thousand dollars and costs of suit in a court of competent jurisdiction, from the parent of a minor if the child willfully and maliciously assaults the person by a means or force likely to produce great bodily harm.

The current code includes assault, but murder and wrongful death are not specifically outlined.

The unveiling of the proposed legislation also served as the launch of the Black Women Commission of Cuyahoga County, a social advocacy group comprised of women of color. The BWCCC has also collected signatures from people living in Ward 1 to add a secondary name to Cloverside Avenue in honor of Saniyah. Social worker and BWCCC member Kimberly Brown hopes the proposal will be introduced at the next city council meeting. The proposal has already been submitted.
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