French President Emmanuel Macron raised the idea of handing out quick-fire fines to the parents of children caught committing vandalism or robberies as part of the government’s response to days of rioting.
Of the nearly 4,000 people arrested since Friday during riots, more than 1,200 are minors, the justice ministry said.
Meeting police officers in Paris on Monday evening, Macron thanked them for their work and floated the idea of speedy punishments for parents who fail to control their children.
“With the first crime, we need to find a way of sanctioning the families financially and easily,” he said, according to comments reported by the Parisien newspaper.
The 45-year-old head of state said it would be “a sort of minimum price for the first screw up”.
At the height of the rioting last Friday, Macron had appealed to parents to control their offspring.
That followed the arrests of rioters as young as 12 during the breakdown in law and order sparked by police shooting a teenager dead in Paris.
“It’s the responsibility of parents to keep them at home,” Macron had said. “It’s not the state’s job to act in their place.”
French Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti stressed the same message on Friday and outlined how parents were already legally liable for their children.
He said that parents could already be fined if they failed to accompany their children to a court appearance.
They were also financially responsible for any damages awarded to a victim of a crime committed by a child.
Under legal guidance issued by the minister, prosecutors were also reminded of article 227-17 of the penal code, which already enables fines against parents.
It authorises fines of up to 30,000 euros ($32,700) and prison terms of up to two years for parents who “fail to uphold, without a legitimate reason, their legal obligations to the extent of compromising the health, the security, the morality and the education of their child”.