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Parents Turning Their Kids In for Crime
Old 02-19-2008, 09:54 AM   #1
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Parents Turning Their Kids In for Crime

I wanted to ask the parents here about this, but I'm also interested in what the childfree (like me) people have to say.

There have been a number of incidents here where kids from affluent homes are bored and steal from neighbors' homes and cars (computers, cell phones, purses, golfing equipment, TVs, other electronics). A couple of the parents turned their kids in to the cops. Like a lot of people, I found this very impressive.

But then there was an article where these parents were interviewed. Turns out that they didn't do it because it was the right thing to do as good citizens and neighbors. One mother said "she was driven to protect her son from the worst. "The neighbors were saying to me, 'If he comes into our house, we're going to shoot him,' " she said. "As a mother, I had to try to save him."

I do understand that a parent's instinct is to protect their child, hence making sure he doesn't get shot at. But aside from their child's safety, isn't there also a responsibility to the community to not harbor/enable criminals?
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Old 02-19-2008, 10:08 AM   #2
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There is a case here in Charleston, where some well-to-do kids from the ritzy part of town did an armed robbery on a sandwich shop and got 10 years each. Much hue and cry from the parents about ruining the kid's chance at a good future. Whereas, poor kids do this and they don't rate the same press--there was a two page article all about these boys and how they went wrong but deserve a second chance. These parents would have never turned their kids in to the cops.

Interesting, and serves as reason 9 billion why I'm glad we are childfree. I remember some kids from my high school breaking into cars and stealing radar detectors and such, but I'm pretty sure they just got probation.

I don't think most parents think they have a greater responsibility to the community than to their kids. Sorry, but I haven't seen that borne out by facts. They will protect their own family to the detriment of the community at large, every time. It is only in cases like you referenced, where the goals of both family and community happen to arrive at the same outcome.
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Old 02-19-2008, 10:12 AM   #3
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I do understand that a parent's instinct is to protect their child, hence making sure he doesn't get shot at. But aside from their child's safety, isn't there also a responsibility to the community to not harbor/enable criminals?
It happens sometimes. This one strikes close to home for me - I'm a retired police officer - in 1976 two guys I worked with, one a mentor, were killed in a bank robbery shootout. Bank camera pictures were published and the guy's father turned him in for that reason.

But it doesn't happen very often. I would imagine that would be a very difficult decision for a parent to make.
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Old 02-19-2008, 10:19 AM   #4
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In this particular case, I don't care why they do it as long as they do it (no kids here either). Yes, the reason may not be for "the good of society" but as long as they do the right thing -- even for the wrong reasons -- I can deal with it.
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Old 02-19-2008, 10:42 AM   #5
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I do understand that a parent's instinct is to protect their child, hence making sure he doesn't get shot at. But aside from their child's safety, isn't there also a responsibility to the community to not harbor/enable criminals?
The rare experiences I have had at the pd when parents turn their child in is because they don't know what else to do. Most times I think it is "tough love", but on occasion they want to wash their hands of the whole mess.

Childless here.
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Old 02-19-2008, 10:54 AM   #6
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I'm a parent of two young girls. Here is what I believe I would do. Minor theft-such as stealing a candy bar, make them return to the store, admit their crime, pay for it, and whatever the store manager deems appropriate punishment (within reason).

Breaking and entering, etc-off to the cops for a hard lesson.
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Old 02-19-2008, 11:05 AM   #7
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But then there was an article where these parents were interviewed. Turns out that they didn't do it because it was the right thing to do as good citizens and neighbors. One mother said "she was driven to protect her son from the worst. "The neighbors were saying to me, 'If he comes into our house, we're going to shoot him,' " she said. "As a mother, I had to try to save him."
I do understand that a parent's instinct is to protect their child, hence making sure he doesn't get shot at. But aside from their child's safety, isn't there also a responsibility to the community to not harbor/enable criminals?
I can understand the frustration when people realize their stuff is being taken by the neighbor's kid. You might talk to the parents ("Oh, I'm sure it was a mistake") or reason with them ("Oh, boys will be boys") and finally, to get a response, you explain what you're gonna do ("WHAT?!? I'm calling the police right now!!"). In many neighborhoods where a teen/young adult has "gone off" or committed a crime, the neighbors all know who the troublemakers are.

Either that or the parents saw this as the only way they'd ever become empty-nesters...

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Bank camera pictures were published and the guy's father turned him in for that reason.
But it doesn't happen very often. I would imagine that would be a very difficult decision for a parent to make.
We had a young sailor go AWOL back in the mid-1980s (before ubiquitous cell phones, when long-distance calling was actually pretty expensive). A week later his father called the training office to chat with his son and was transferred to the XO, who informed the retired Marine gunny sergeant that his son had been reported AWOL.

The young man returned two days later to face the music.
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Old 02-19-2008, 05:18 PM   #8
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I'm a parent of two young girls. Here is what I believe I would do. Minor theft-such as stealing a candy bar, make them return to the store, admit their crime, pay for it, and whatever the store manager deems appropriate punishment (within reason).

Breaking and entering, etc-off to the cops for a hard lesson.
bravo for you! the law is the law is the law...regardless who is breaking it.

tough love all the way. if you do the crime, you gotta do the time. no boundaries creates criminals.

i had a wild sister 2 years older who was pampered by our father from diapers. let her do anything she wanted behind my mom's back. last time i checked, she is still squandering her life on drugs and entertaining way too many men (sorry guys).

i am childless also. but raised strictly with boundaries. no brushes with the law, ever.

i know i have good company out there...
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Old 02-19-2008, 05:31 PM   #9
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I don't know if I would turn my kids in because I would be punishing them pretty severely myself. One had a little "boys will be boys" partying incident as a teen and the judge commented to him that he could see the disappointment in our eyes. We did not try to get him out of it, we did not pay for the consequences--son did. And our penalties for him were pretty severe. I know some parents in this community are getting the kids completely out of it. Not that these kids ended up happy.

On the other hand I don't think I would ever have turned my kid (or anyone else's kid)in myself. Mostly because unlike the olden days when the cops scared the kids but the only record was a piece of paper in a filing cabinet that would be tossed at some point, the electronic trail today can last forever and in some cases that alone truly can affect the kid's future and view of him/herself. That's just me.
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Old 02-19-2008, 06:40 PM   #10
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I don't think most parents think they have a greater responsibility to the community than to their kids. Sorry, but I haven't seen that borne out by facts. They will protect their own family to the detriment of the community at large, every time. It is only in cases like you referenced, where the goals of both family and community happen to arrive at the same outcome.
I think this may be a chicken & egg scenario. There are plenty of families who work very hard to ensure that their children are respectful, productive members of society. These kids don't commit crimes, and their parents never have to make the choice you describe above. You hear about the few bad apples, while the majority of good kids go unnoticed.

I have 2 children, and if the crime were severe enough to warrant their arrest, I would turn either of them in. I'd also be heartbroken.
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Old 02-19-2008, 07:01 PM   #11
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They will protect their own family to the detriment of the community at large, every time.
I'm not surprised. I would think this is pretty much a biological imperative.
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Old 02-19-2008, 07:15 PM   #12
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I'd like to think I'd turn my child in (if I had one) for committing a crime. However, it's just so hard to imagine being in that position. It's easy to say, but I'm sure it's not so easy if you were truly in that position.
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Old 02-19-2008, 07:36 PM   #13
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I was a defense attorney for juveniles for around 7 years. A lot of times the parents would turn their kids in because they were tired of being the victims. Sometimes because they thought their kid was out of control and they were afraid he was going to end up in prison. Sometimes the parents were shocked that once the kid was in the "system" they lost control. They would say "If I had known this was going to happen I wouldn't have turned him in". Sometimes the parents use the police as a way to discipline their child. Or if their child is on probation they call the probation officer for every infraction.Instead of learning to raise their own child. But sometimes it was already too late. AND sometimes it didn't matter how many witnesses saw their child commit the crime they were in denial. If their child said he/she didn't do it then he/she never lies and all the witnesses are liars or just wrong. I could go on but... this just reminds me why I'm so happy to be retired!!!!
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Old 02-19-2008, 07:47 PM   #14
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Tough question. Hope I never have to answer it.

I think for a mild misdemeanor, he'd get the business from me and have to make a reasonable restitution. For a major offense where he'd end up getting his picture taken sooner or later, we'd stop by the police station with a lawyer.

I'm no big fan of "the system" in case anyone hasnt figured that out yet. I'd only give my kid up if I felt he was a lost cause. And at that point there'd only be about 3oz of him left to turn over...
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Old 02-19-2008, 08:12 PM   #15
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I don't think most parents think they have a greater responsibility to the community than to their kids. Sorry, but I haven't seen that borne out by facts. They will protect their own family to the detriment of the community at large, every time.
Serious question: Would you protect your husband to the detriment of the community at large?
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Old 02-19-2008, 10:35 PM   #16
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I shoplifted some gum when I was 4. My mom found out and made me take it back and apologize to the store manager. I'm sure there were further ramifications after that. It must have stuck because I've never even contemplated stealing for even a nanosecond. As a teen, I was given enough freedom to hang myself with, so to speak. I knew all of my liberty was mine to lose and so I walked a pretty straight line (as far as teens go). Then again, the early years were spent on an air force base... nothing will put the fear of god in you faster than turning the corner to see the MP car parked in your parent's driveway.
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Old 02-20-2008, 12:41 AM   #17
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I shoplifted some gum when I was 4. My mom found out and made me take it back and apologize to the store manager. I'm sure there were further ramifications after that.
Exactly, raising a child is a continuos effort, starting at conception. They usually don't start a criminal activity at their teens, but rather are a product of the process of rearing leading up to and past that point. When my daughter was young, she understood the results of breaking the rules, and knew the punishment was certain to follow. Even when with her peers, she could opt out, it was her decision. The only exception, and it was absolute. IF she called and said come pick me up I don't want to be here, it was a no questions asked, or retributions given - a get out of trouble fast pass, only to be used when she felt she needed a parent's help. She used it twice, and I still don't know the particulars, I just went and got her and brought her home.
I observe how she is raising her children now, and it appears to be the same way. In fact, she might be a bit more strict then I was. She makes them be polite to every one, and address them as ma'am or sir as the gender may be. I have a feeling that she will extend the same get out of trouble pass to them as well. And the same certain punishment for offenses against others. Equal parts of love and respect seem to avoid the opportunities for criminal trespass.
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Old 02-20-2008, 10:31 AM   #18
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Serious question: Would you protect your husband to the detriment of the community at large?
What a great question! Hmmm, I don't think so, in the case of actual harm to life or property. I'm trying to envision this possibility--so if he ran into someone's parked car and no one saw it, would I turn him in? What if there was someone injured in the car? Hmmmm... I think I would say certainly I would turn him in if there were injuries and he did a hit-and-run, not so sure on the parked car. But if he held up the liquor store? Yeah, I'd turn him in.

There was a case in Charleston a number of years ago, a serial rapist who raped more than 30 women, who was finally turned in by his wife.
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Old 02-20-2008, 12:02 PM   #19
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I think I would say certainly I would turn him in if there were injuries and he did a hit-and-run, not so sure on the parked car.
So....... if a parent failed to turn in a child for hitting a parked car and not reporting it, that would be OK? Or, are you saying you might not turn in hubby and that would be wrong just as if the parent not turning in the child would be wrong?

That is, both right? Both wrong? One right and one wrong?

TickTock - Great question!
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Old 02-21-2008, 10:25 PM   #20
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Both wrong, I think. I'd like to think I'd turn him in for the parked car, but I'm just not sure. Thinking that if it was my parked car, I'd wish someone would be turned in, but I'm thinking that isn't likely. Morals in the modern world...
But at 45, I imagine that it would be my husband turning himself in, instead of me dragging him to to station by the ear. That is what I suppose the difference is between kids/spouse in this question. We hope that our spouses arrive with their moral compass already working. Kids, not so much!
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