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December 6, 2006 - 10:27 am

A reader sent me an article today about a mother who turned her son in to the police for opening a Christmas gift early. I was a href=”http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16064380/GT1=8816″surprised that the story /a was such a big deal that the Associated Press picked it up. To me, it seems mundane. Afterall, I have worked in places where parents drop the kids off at juvenile detention if they come in late from a date. Why do parents call the police and/or contact the authorities instead of using discipline? Because no one else will do the job of teaching the kids consequences. For example, in the case of the mother with the Christmas gift-grabbing boy, she states:br /br /”My grandmother went out of her way to lay away a toy and paid on this thing for months,” said the boy’s mother, Brandi Ervin. “It was only to teach my son a lesson. He’s been going through life doing things … and getting away with it.”br /br /My question isn’t, “why would a mother call the cops on her own son for such a petty “crime” but rather, “why is her son going through life getting away with things such as the time he a href=”http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16064380/GT1=8816″ took a swing at a police officer /a at school?” Maybe the woman in the story is a single mother with no one to help her with her son, maybe there is a father but he is afraid to discipline for fear of being hauled himself to court for child abuse, or maybe the community does not see fit to dole out consequences to kids who push the limits–except to expel them from school to get rid of the problem. Whatever the reason, expect the police and courts to continue being the disciplinarians for our kids, given that consequences for one’s behavior is out of fashion.br /br /Update: Joanne Jacobs ona href=”http://www.volokh.com/posts/1165444436.shtml” Parenting by Police /a at the Volokh Conspiracy.

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