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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (December 21, 1997 - Samoa News)---Parents must be held financially responsible for the actions of their children who are convicted of crimes such as theft and burglary, recommends American Samoa High Court Warrant Officer Falaniko Leapai.

A deputized police officer, Leapai last week recovered several items reported missing after three juveniles burglarized a church.

Among the items stolen was a public address system, including speakers and accessories. The church also was vandalized, with damages estimated at $1,000.

"A place to worship is not recognized by these devious kids," said Leapai. "If the law is lenient with the treatment, and if the law is silent about who should be responsible for compensation for the victims of the crimes committed by these juveniles, then parents must be held responsible."

He said that two of the juveniles are known burglars and have been convicted before of similar crimes.

"It’s frustrating, especially when the juveniles are not punished or getting rehabilitation or professional help," said Leapai.

Leapai echoed the concerns of other citizens, including some lawmakers, who have called for parents to be held responsible for their children’s crimes.

Stories from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to .

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