Calling the Police on Your Child: Would You or Wouldn’t You?

Posted January 18, 2012 by

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If it came down to it, would you ever call the police on your child? And if so, what would be the last straw — the motivating factor — for you, personally?

Consider these recent cases in the news:

A father in Monroe, Ohio called the police on his 6-year-old for refusing to go to school. The police chief, Greg Homer, told the newspapers that the dad wanted to “scare his son into going to school.” Chief Homer added that it’s not uncommon in this town of 8,000 for parents to call the police on their kids for help with discipline and drug issues.

A mother in Salem, Massachusetts summoned the police because her 15- and 16-year-old wouldn’t stop fighting. “Arrest them both. I can’t take this anymore,” the mother of five reportedly said. (The 15-year-old son, who punched his 8-year-old sister and pushed his 16-year-old sister to the ground while the mom was out of the house, now faces a court date for hitting his younger sister.)

In a recent EP Poll on Facebook, we asked parents if they would call the police on their child. The majority of respondents said, “Yes, but only under certain circumstances.” (Worth noting:  A sizable number of you said, “Maybe, if the behavior was abusive and/or illegal.”)

What if your child is physically abusing you or a family member? In their recent article in Empowering Parents called ODD Kids: How to Manage Violent Behavior in Children and Teens, co-authors Kim Abraham, LMSW and Marney Studaker Cordner, LMSW said, “Even though the thought of calling the police on your child can be very, very difficult and is probably the last thing you ever thought you might have to do as a parent, if your child becomes aggressive toward you, it is very important to follow through and call the authorities. If you don’t, your child won’t learn that domestic violence is not only unacceptable, it’s against the law. And he may have to learn that lesson in a much more difficult way down the road—with a spouse or someone else who won’t hesitate to call the police on him.”

What do you think? Would you ever call the police on your child? If so, what would it take for you to do so? (And if you have called the police on your child before, are you glad you did — and would you do it again?)


Elisabeth Wilkins was the editor of Empowering Parents and the mother of an 10-year-old son. Her work has appeared in national and international publications, including Mothering, Motherhood (Singapore), Hausfrau, The Bad Mother Chronicles, and The Japan Times. Elisabeth holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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  1. hero Report

    The standard acdive that you need to stay home to care for your children and the husband should work or work 2 jobs if necessary, otherwise why have kids when someone else will raise them. LOL. This acdive is totally not true and not realistic at all. Ever hear of it takes a village to raise a child? Now, that one is true.

  2. dee Report

    Our 17 yr. old has caused us to call the police 3 times. It would seem that the embarrassment and humiliation would do it but the fights and yelling still continue. He does need meds but refuses to take them. Having ODD along with the additional issues that go along w/ this diagnosis makes it extremely difficult to follow procedures and lesson. The game plan changes periodically. We love him but living with him has gotten impossible. We are hopeful by 18 done with school or not, he will have to seek the help he needs himself, or the locks will be changed. Sometimes love must be tough.

  3. Lost mother Report

    My son is 16 and has been ‘in touch’ with the police. My problem with calling them is he is an extreemly good actor. When its all over with, the police leave telling me to take it easy on him. Meanwhile as soon as they are gone, he laughs and runs off. I am so afraid of getting him his drivers license due to I do not want him to steal the car. Granted, the good acting skills keeps him out of the court rooms, but I still get fines from the stores I have to pay or I go to jail, not him. When he misses school, there is a fine I have to pay or go to jail – not him. There is no punishment by the police. I reported his drug taking after giving him a home test, and they said if I was a better parent, this problem may not have happened. He steals, lies, hits, breaks things and the police say it is the parents fault. Frankly, calling the police is too expensive.

  4. pepswe Report

    When I called the police on my 13 year old son for hitting me they arrested him and had me go to the police station to get him. When I turned him in for stealing bikes they arrested him and had me come and get him. He got arrested for a school fight, I had to go down to get him. Now we have been to court every month for “reviews” and they have not done anything in the way of consequences. I would hesitate to call again unless it was something so serious I had too. He has just learned from this experience that they are not going to do much if anything other than inconvience the parent, make them miss work, and the kid gets out of school for it.

  5. tired sad mom Report

    At age 15 my daughter threatened me with a screw driver when in a rage because I took her cell phone away from her. (part of a lot of stuff going on at the same time with her). Anyway the police took her into Juvenile she was charged with Attempted assualt with a deadly weapon. She was taken to psch hospital, not kept there either, sent home, with me. Was on probabtion. She now has a record. You are right, it is the only thing to do, though alone it is not the final answer.

  6. notwhatithought Report

    After reading and being empowered by articles from this site, I did call the police on my 13 yr old son. He was assaulting his younger sister and coming after me with a chair. I left the house with DD and called 911. I am very proud of myself for doing it, but have been a bit depressed ever since. You realize, at a time like this, you may be in over your head and don’t have much hope of getting out of it. I know the safety of my family has to come first, so calling the police is sometimes the only choice we have as a parent. If they are bigger than you, stronger than you, and meaner than you, what else can you do?

  7. tired sad mom Report

    My daughter will be 18 next week. She has been diagnosed bipolar,and add. While diagnosis is still questionable she definately is difficult and her life seems to be one bad thing after another.. She hates school, skips frequently, lies and steals from me. We are going to truancy court next week. She also becomes very angry at times especially when off her meds, she will curse at me and even throw things etc if I try to put any consequences or boundaries on her. I have been told to call the police if she trys to hurt me. Which I will. But also to call police if she steals from me which is very very hard for me to come to terms of doing that knowing it will be following her through the future,in every job she trys to get. She will now be an adult. I have almost done it several times and couldnt do it. One night she took my keys and drove my car around. (She doesnt have a drivers liscense because I cant trust her) I did call the police and told them she stole my car. the officer who came to the house told me that if I wanted to report it stolen, the police would find her and pull out their guns have to lying on the ground, she would be charged with a felony and I would have to sign a form saying I would pursue the charges. He kind of discouraged me from doing it, I backed down, she came home. Life is too hard sometimes. I was not prepared to have a child like this, I tried to do the right things when she was little. She even wouldnt spend the night away for fear she would lose me, now she seems to do everything she can to show how much she cant stand me. I feel ashamed, sad, and hurt alot of the time.

  8. mjhighroad Report

    I would be very careful about calling the police. Once they arrive you have lost control. They might be helpful, but on the other hand they might take a course of action that may be totally counterproductive. In many jurisdictions there are a large number of rookies on the police force. These officers have little or no experience with problems that require the exercise of discretion. When under pressure their response is often the exercise of their authority rather than their discretion.



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