Chuck Williams: When should a parent call the police on their child?

chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 11, 2013 

Rarely do three-paragraph police briefs stop me in my tracks.

This one did last Thursday:

“A 14-year-old boy was charged with possession of marijuana on Sandusky Drive Wednesday after his mother reported him, according to a Columbus Police Department report,” reported.

I understand parental frustration. And I understand the law. It appears one Columbus mother arrived at that intersection.

The mother told police that she found a bag of what she suspected to be marijuana on her son’s bed when she went into his room to get something at about 10 p.m. The boy told her that he was holding the drugs for a friend.

The boy was arrested and charged.

Without knowing all of the circumstances, it is hard to render judgment — and even harder to understand what would lead a mother to throw up her hands and call the police.

I posted a link to the story on my Facebook page and asked people to weigh in.

They did. The link prompted more than 20 comments. I found the discussion fascinating.

One older man simply called the mother’s action “stupid.” But there was a quick counter from one person: “I would throw his a-- under the bus then back up over his a--.”

My initial reaction was somewhere squarely in the middle.

But two compelling responses took the discussion to another level.

“I’ve actually seen this situation happen,” a 25-year-old woman wrote. “And nine years later, the mom said if she could change what she did, she definitely would. She didn’t know how it would end.”

Well, here’s one way it ends. One of my Facebook friends is a young man I don’t know well, but have always found thoughtful, intelligent and driven.

Here’s his story:

“Here’s another anecdote: When I was 16, I snuck out and took my mom’s car to visit a girlfriend. The next morning I was awaked by 3 members of the CPD who hauled me off to the Muscogee County Jail,” he wrote. “I was charged with Theft by Taking Motor Vehicle.”

When he got out, he went home, packed his belongings and moved in with his grandparents. He dropped out of school after completing the ninth grade, going to work as a concrete finisher.

Nearly 12 years later, where is he today?

“I took the GED, got my bachelor’s from the University of Georgia and went on to get my Juris Doctor from the University of Georgia School of Law,” he wrote.

So, his mom’s decision was right?

“Absolutely not,” he wrote. “Completely inappropriate. Evincing an incapacity to parent properly. Even 10 years later, the arrest almost cost me the privilege of attending UGA Law and membership in the State Bar of Georgia.”

Did he learn a valuable lesson?

“Yeah, when you see a ‘bad kid’ you need to look further and see the bad parents or bad circumstances.”

Chuck Williams, senior editor for content, chwilliams@

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