Every now and then an issue arises that causes me some measure of annoyance. I realize that there is little I can do to address the issue so please be patient while I indulge myself and vent my spleen a little.
I was watching the news recently when I saw a story about some parents who thought it a good idea to bring their young daughter to a police station for the purpose of having the police scare her into behaving properly. The police refused to cooperate with the parents and subsequently charged the parents with neglect or some such thing.
During my career, I have had the experience of being in uniform in a public place. I have seen and heard parents point to me and tell their young child that if they did not behave I was going to take them away and put them in jail. Now to set the stage properly try to imagine the scene. I stand six feet four inches and weigh as much as an NFL Lineman...in short I appear intimidating. Now put yourself in place of the child aged somewhere between 5 years and ten years old. How do you think they feel?
Judging by the wide eyed fear in the eyes of the child, I surmise that they are petrified. I have a real problem with parents who chose to frighten their children as a parenting technique. This is just wrong!
Imagine, if you will, that this same child later disobeys his parents and wanders off out of the backyard and becomes lost. Who are the parents going to call? The police of course! Now imagine what might be going through that child's mind when they see us looking for them.
"I must have done something really bad. I didn't listen to Mommy I left the yard without permission. I am in real trouble! The police are looking for me to take me away!"
So, what is the child more likely to do...hide or go to the policeman and ask for help? Obviously they are going to hide.
Now add to this the extremes of weather, the dangers of exposure to frigid cold or worse, predators of the two and/or four legged kind. The probable result is an avoidable tragedy.
Parents, please teach your children that if they need help the police are there to do just that, to help them. It just might save their lives! Please teach them that Police are not in the business of punishing anyone, especially children!
Another similar scenario concerns adolescent children. A parent will bring their disrespectful, disobedient, out of control adolescent child to the police station and essentially tell the officer on duty to "fix" them. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN, PEOPLE! You've had them for their entire life. There is no way on this earth that the police are going to be able to undo all the years of upbringing, for good or ill, that you have exposed them to. We're good but we're not that good!
By the time kids become teenagers they often know exactly what the police can do and what they cannot do. So telling a teenager that the police are going to bring all manner of dire consequences upon them when they know that it is not true is, shall we say, counter-productive.
The solution is, it seems to me, that from the beginning you love your child unconditionally. Next, you teach your child right from wrong while they are still young and hold them accountable. You teach them that bad choices result in bad consequences and good choices result in good consequences. When they do something wrong they need to experience negative consequences commensurate with their age AND the deed. Also, when they do something right they need to be praised and encouraged, also commensurate with their age and the deed. Be loving! Be consistent! Be Persistent!
Police are here to help, not to be your personal bogey-man! SMARTEN UP PEOPLE! It doesn't take a village to raise a child, it takes two loving, committed parents.