Let's say a minor (17 or younger) living with his parents gets a job or does chores, and with the money thereby earned, buys a video game console.
The parents decide that the console is not appropriate for the child and take it away. In fact, they sell it and put the money into their own bank account, with no plans to ever give it back to the child.
Setting aside any question of ethics or morality, is this legal on the part of the parents? If the police are called in, will they seek to charge the parents with a crime (such as theft)?
I am under the impression that there is no legal case here, as the parents are the custodians/guardians of everything for the child. Imagine a situation where the parents are very poor, and ongoingly need the fruits of their child's labor to simply put food on the table and pay for the electricity. In my mind, while parents should generally allow their children to own possessions and enjoy the fruits of their labor, they also have every right to take every last penny from their child if it is urgently needed for the basic good of the whole family.
When considering this situation, perhaps it would be easier for you to think of the purchased item as something most would agree is unhealthful for the child, though not necessarily illegal for him to possess—say, a book on how to construct a bomb or on how to commit suicide. Perhaps it is a chain saw, or a gun, or a set of lawn darts, or pornography, or anything else that most/many people would recognize is good for parents to take away from their minor children, no matter where the money came from or what previous recognition there was in the family of the item's belonging to the child. In this way, please try to avoid responding from any distaste about the parents violating your personal feelings about a child's rights, as this question is specifically about the law only.
I'd like to know if my impression here stands at odds with any laws or precedents that could inform me better.
If a more specific jurisdiction is needed, let's hear answers from Washington state, California, Florida, and Maine. Or chime in with a few other states, so we can get an idea of what the laws are throughout the nation. Feel free to add information on laws in other countries, as well, but please try to answer the USA question first.