Parents: 11-year-old controlled by someone older to commit car break-ins

Parents of 11-year-old arrested in connection with vehicle burglaries appear in court

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Summoned to court by the NOPD, the parents of an 11-year-old arrested for a rash of car burglaries say it’s not their fault.

Donald Bryant and Donna Howard were served a summons for improper supervision in connection with at least 22 car break-ins. The child’s father claims someone older is controlling him.

"They powered him more than we have power over him because everything he needed at home was at home,” Bryant said. “If he needed us, we were always there. They overpowered my child. They really did."

In municipal court, Judge Joseph Landry said there wasn’t probable cause to set a bond, but it doesn’t mean the case is over. The case now heads to the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office.

"This was always the issue, the enforceability of this kind of the statute,” said FOX 8 Legal Analyst Joe Raspanti. “It sounds good to hold a parent responsible but if you read the statue, in its present iteration, the judge ruled correctly."

FOX 8 first covered the story last week, with surveillance video detectives say that shows the 11-year-old inside a car, his legs dangling outside the window.

"They're in the courthouse saying [my son] was the driver,” Bryant said. “He wasn't the driver. I spoke with the cop. They said he ran and that your son was under a house with one slipper on scared to death."

FOX 8 is not identifying the 11-year-old because he is a minor.

Their child faces multiple charges for his alleged connection to nearly two dozen Gentilly area break-ins. Police are still looking for three others in connection with those burglaries.

“It’s like they’re trying to bill a case against his parents and we’re not bad parents,” Howard said. “It’s not our fault he was out doing the things that he was doing. We tried to get send him to school. It’s like, when we get up, he going to take out running from me. If he’s behind me I look back and he’s gone.”

The pair believe they’re being used as a scapegoat for other juveniles reportedly breaking into vehicles.

"We're the type of parents we want better for our children," Bryant said.

"An 11-year-old does not enter this world breaking windows," said Dr. Reginald Parquet, Ph.D.

Parquet is a professor at the Tulane School of Social Work. He is also the former statewide administrator of all juvenile correctional facilities under the Department of Corrections.

“You have to look at what’s going on in the family. That’s one of the first places I would look. Talk about parenting and parenting skills or the lack there of,” Parquet said.

Parquet does not believe the solution lies in placing blame.

“I don’t know that charging parents will help. I do know that assisting parents and providing them with support to be supportive of their kids and teaching parents how to parent. Those things, to me, work far more better than charging the parents,” explained Parquet.

Parquet says kids are often worse off when their parents are behind bars. He says changing children’s behaviors must be a collaborative effort between parents and community members.

“Ultimately, an 11-year-old, whether he’s incarcerated or not at some point he’s going to return to the family. And when he returns to the community if it’s not built that family up in such a way they can now provide the kinds of things these kids were seeking, we’re not going to be successful,” Parquet said.

“I get that the people are upset,” Raspanti said. “I am too but it is tough to do this statue with the parents what’s easier is to hold the criminals doing the acts accountable and that has not been happening.”

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