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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