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Parents sometimes turn to police to scare kids straight

Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013 6:23 PM
Last updated 9:29 PM
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It’s not at all uncommon in Augusta for parents to request parenting assistance from police – whether it’s making their children go to school, do their homework or chores or a request to “scare them straight.”



It’s not a new problem, but police said it appears to be increasing as previous forms of child punishment have become unacceptable.

Calls about children refusing to go to school are highest at the beginning of the school year. Police expect them to drop off for a while until the end of the year. Really cold days can cause an increase, too.

No matter the nature of the call, a deputy is dispatched.

“We go for a lot of different reasons,” said Richmond County sheriff’s Capt. Steven Strickland. “One, because we’re serving the community, and two, because we don’t want the situation to blow up into something that might be (considered a crime).”

Officers attempt to persuade the child to go to school, but it’s never forced. Sometimes they learn there are other factors, such as bullying, that are causing the refusal. At that point, police involve counselors and school public safety.

Strickland said it’s rare, but officers have driven kids to school in patrol cars.

Columbia County Sheriff’s Office receives similar requests from parents, but they’re not very common.

“It’s paramount that these kids are in school,” said Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris. “We’ll do and have done whatever it takes to get them there, even if it means escorting them.”

Police said refusal to attend school is just one of many reasons parents call them.

“If you can think of a reason why they’d call us, they’ve called us,” Strickland said.

The most common request in both counties is for police to show up and scare the youngsters into being good.

In past years of law enforcement, it might have been more acceptable to give the child “fire and brimstone” for his own good, but those days have passed, police said.

“We’re not really the bogeymen,” Strickland said. “I don’t think it serves anybody’s interest for us to go out and scare the kid.”

Police called scaring tactics detrimental to children and their relationship with law enforcement.

Sgt. Shane McDaniel said he dissuades parents from using an officer’s presence to change a child’s behavior. He said it’s not uncommon to see parents point out a uniformed officer to misbehaving children as young as 2 and say the officer will “get you” if the bad behavior doesn’t change.

“They’re like sponges,” McDaniel said. “If Mama says you better watch out for that po-po because he’ll take you away, then that’s dangerous.”

Police said it warps the child’s mind of the officer’s job. Instead of running to a police officer, children sometimes run the other way for fear they’re in trouble.

“Some parents will always call the police to scare their children,” said Richmond County sheriff’s Capt. Gerald Metzler. “They’re looking for an alternative means to get their child on the straight and narrow. If they can take advantage of the police, it’s all the better for them and it keeps them from looking like the bad guy.”

Parents aren’t the only ones calling. Metzler said children call to complain about their punishment. As a precaution, an officer is dispatched, but usually it turns out to be “silly things” such as a child not being able to play outside or go out with friends.

Scare requests also top the list in Columbia County.

“We have to be careful how we interact (with children),” Morris said. “We don’t want them to fear us; we want them to fear the path they’re headed.”

As part of the FOG (Fear of God) initiative, parents take their children to the sheriff’s office for a glimpse of their future. Each visit is tailored to the child’s problems, but Morris said it usually includes a tour of the jail and examples of children who have succeeded and those who haven’t.

It’s most common in early teens, but Columbia County has had requests from parents of 7- to 16-year-olds.

“Our experience is that often times it helps,” Morris said. “Parents are obviously appreciative.”

Richmond County has a similar program for first-time offenders. The teens are referred to the program by a Juvenile Court judge.

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corazon
50
Points
corazon 09/04/13 - 07:10 pm
3
5
Columbia county

Columbia county dont do anything, when you call because a behavior problem with teenagers , they dont care, they just talk about you and mark you address and they all know that you have a teenager that have behavior problems.. ..

fatboyhog
2025
Points
fatboyhog 09/05/13 - 12:13 am
9
1
Be a parent

What do you expect Columbia County to do? Or Richmond County for that matter? Do you even know how the juvenile system works? What could the Sheriff's Office do that would make you happy? Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. It starts at home. Too many parents want to be their kid's best buddy and excuse their bad, bratty, spoiled behavior; oftentimes finding it "cute". Then, when it's too late to correct the problem, parents call the police and gripe that they don't do anything and that they don't care. The police can't fix a problem that's been years in the making in 15 minutes. And, call the police because I wouldn't go to school? My parents would have called an ambulance to transport me to the ER and the only reason that I wouldn't have gone to school is because I wouldn't have been able to sit down!

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 09/05/13 - 07:05 am
11
0
I believe that's the
Unpublished

I believe that's the conundrum some parents face, fatboyhog. From the article: From the article: "It’s not a new problem, but police said it appears to be increasing as previous forms of child punishment have become unacceptable."

I've often claimed that my parents would still be locked up if the definitions of "child abuse" were the same when I was growing up as they are today.

SgtT
17
Points
SgtT 09/05/13 - 06:55 am
9
1
It isn't the job of the

It isn't the job of the police to do the job of the parents. Sorry McDaniels "
“They’re like sponges,” McDaniel said. “If Mama says you better watch out for that po-po because he’ll take you away, then that’s dangerous.” it is police not po-po or five-o, or cops or flat foot. it is Police.

FYI, I worked up north for a PD, parent call because kids would not go to school, sorry mom/dad do your job, don't ask us to take care of the problems you made and been reenforcing it for years and expect PD to correct in one visit.

Be a parent, be a teacher and quit blaming everyone else.

corgimom
34681
Points
corgimom 09/05/13 - 08:11 am
4
0
It wasn't unacceptable at my

It wasn't unacceptable at my house, and still isn't.

As my son was told as a teenager, if he could find a better deal than what he had with me, sure, call 911. I even offered to dial the number for him.

Trouble
2506
Points
Trouble 09/05/13 - 08:13 am
6
0
Responsibility

Parents need to take responsibility for raising their children. If my children were bad, it was their mother that they feared, not the police. Teach them right from wrong when they are young, and you will not have to call the police when they are older to make them behave. If you can not raise your children without the help of the government, do not have them.

anotherlook
101
Points
anotherlook 09/05/13 - 08:16 am
6
0
CCSD

I can not say that my experience with the Columbia County Sheriff's Department has been the same as the other poster. I was a foster parent and have called for their assistance on occasion with children in my home. They have always been patient, kind, understanding, helpful, and professional. I once had a child that shoplifted some chewing gum. After talking to the stores head of security, we went to the CCSD Substation and requested a deputy. After taking the child into a conference room, he had a "sit down" with the child for a few minutes. It was a young child, but very bright. After that every time that we went past that Substation, the child would point and say "Do you remember when..." That child has been restored to the family and hasn't had any further problems with the law. I give sincere thanks to the CCSD for their continuing support.

Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 09/05/13 - 09:11 am
4
0
Clay Whittle does a great job

Clay Whittle does a great job training his deputies to handle whatever comes up in Columbia County. He's the model for law enforcement and respect to the citizens.

triscuit
3175
Points
triscuit 09/05/13 - 10:04 am
8
0
I had a teenager that needed

I had a teenager that needed some discipline and he told me if I hit him he'd call the cops. I told him, no need to do that,...I'll call them. I did...the police came and watched me beat his butt.

Little Lamb
47263
Points
Little Lamb 09/05/13 - 10:16 am
3
0
Great story

That's a good one, triscuit. I got a laugh while visualizing the event.

Bizkit
33336
Points
Bizkit 09/05/13 - 11:37 am
2
0
If you can't raise your kids

If you can't raise your kids perhaps they should have them removed from this home and into one where there are "parents" who have a freakin' clue. The problem was created by the parent long before they had to call the police to intervene. But I support this police learning experience too-perhaps intervene before something serious arises. Had a similar experience as a youth myself.

Darby
27280
Points
Darby 09/05/13 - 11:44 am
4
1
“It’s paramount that these kids are in school,”

said Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris. “We’ll do and have done whatever it takes to get them there, even if it means escorting them.”

.
I know children have to go to school, but wouldn't it be great if they could actually get a decent education in the process, rather than the off handed indoctrination that actually happens most of the time.

I can understand their reluctance in some cases. Kids, some at least, are smart enough to know they are not getting an education and they are bored out of their minds.

Others are just a natrual product of their upbringing.

corgimom
34681
Points
corgimom 09/05/13 - 03:26 pm
2
2
Any child can get an

Any child can get an education, if they are "bored", too bad. They can do extra work. Or read. I did.

Because when they go out into the workforce, their employer isn't going to care for one second if they are "bored."

That's reality. Going to school is serious, schools are not there for entertainment purposes.

corgimom
34681
Points
corgimom 09/05/13 - 03:38 pm
2
3
I just laugh at the idea of

I just laugh at the idea of me coming home from school and telling my parents that I was "bored". I would never be bored again, after they got done with me.

There are plenty of high-level classes in middle and high school, if somebody is bored in school, it's their own fault.

KSL
135589
Points
KSL 09/05/13 - 04:03 pm
0
2
My husband gave our eighth

My husband gave our eighth grade son his calculus book from GT and told him to have at it.

KSL
135589
Points
KSL 09/05/13 - 04:10 pm
0
2
When I was in high school, a

When I was in high school, a friend and I got hold of a list of 100 books people should have read before going to college. We made a pact to do so.

Corgi is right. There is no excuse for being bored.

GodisSoGood
977
Points
GodisSoGood 09/05/13 - 04:21 pm
1
0
Parenting

If children are taught to respect and revere authority of the parents, there will be no need for them to fear the police. They will have a healthy respect for every human being. My parents were strict on me, and I couldn't understand why when I was young. Now I am forever grateful. I have a blessed life because of the values they instilled in me. No run-ins with the law, no stupid mistakes that could have gotten me into trouble....all because my parents taught me to respect authority. Stop trying to be your child's friend and be the PARENT!

CobaltGeorge
165882
Points
CobaltGeorge 09/05/13 - 04:22 pm
2
1
corgimom

A downer on both your comments.

I had five sons while in the military and all were educated up to the middle grade level by military sponsored foreign schools.

Came to Fort Gordon and they were enrolled at Hephzibah. Within one week they were complaining that they were being taught a level of 1 and 2 grades below what they were educated at.

One trip to the school demonstrated to me that the class rooms were disrupted and the teacher was gearing the instructions to the slowest learning students. A conversation with the principle requesting a test given for a grade increase for all 5 was a negative and laughed at.

Within 1 month I was out of the my house on Boykin Road and in Columbia County where they attended a much better educational level school. Still, not one ever brought home any class work and was asked Why? They would say they had completed everything in school. All Five graduated with A grades and many awards.

A School and its teachers has a lot to do with some students becoming "Bored"

CobaltGeorge
165882
Points
CobaltGeorge 09/05/13 - 04:25 pm
1
2
BS

Parents sometimes turn to police to scare kids straight

If that is required, then those "kids" don't have parents....PERIOD.

corgimom
34681
Points
corgimom 09/05/13 - 04:35 pm
2
3
CG, I was a gifted child, and

CG, I was a gifted child, and skipped 2 grades. In high school, I brought homework home 3 times in 4 years.

I read. I did extra work. I took every high-level course that I could. I read. And I read. And I read. And I got a very fine education, in fact, when I started at ASU, the classes were easier than my high school classes.

And no, I was never bored.

If your children were so smart, they could finish their classwork and then read. I did it. So did many others.

If a child is bored with school, and if they are able to read at any level, then it is THEIR fault that they are bored. End of story.

Because it's up to them, what level education that they receive. It's their education. It's their responsibility.

Unless your children could write at a professional level, they could always improve their writing skills. There's always literature to read, nonfiction books to be read, subjects to learn about.

The junk about "bored" in school is just that, junk.

KSL
135589
Points
KSL 09/05/13 - 04:42 pm
1
2
CG

Corgi is younger than I am, but I think she is speaking of school before Jimmy Carter and the Dept. of Education.

Now my sons were in soar classes and AP after private elementary school.

Darby
27280
Points
Darby 09/05/13 - 04:58 pm
3
0
"Corgi is right. There is no excuse for being

bored."

WRONG!

Don't really know what Corgi is saying because I blocked her months ago.

I can tell you this. If the needed material isn't being presented (and taught, there is a difference) then intelligent kids are going to be bored to tears.

In our current system, only the brightest, most intelligent kids are going to leave school prepared to go on to college.

And they will have picked up most of what they need on their own and most of that at home. Having ten to fifteen percent of our teachers fully qualified to teach just isn't good enough.

Particularly when the political bureaucracy controls and dictates the curriculum.

corgimom
34681
Points
corgimom 09/05/13 - 09:06 pm
0
0
I didn't "pick up what I

I didn't "pick up what I needed" at home, neither of my parents finished high school.

I did it myself. Because I was responsible. I didn't expect my teachers to cater to me or to entertain me. My education was MY responsibility.

And that's the difference between then and now.

mooseye
266
Points
mooseye 09/05/13 - 10:08 pm
1
0
Or

Like my boys tried to play me. They cut school and knew they were caught because the neighbor lady saw them and called me. They had one of their friends set up to call the sheriff and tell them they heard kids screaming. Well, that part was true because I gave them a spanking. When the sheriff arrived, I told them what had happened and they wanted to see the boys. I brought them out and one deputy asked if I had spanked them for cutting school. With tearful eyes and a still whinny voice he said "yessss sirrrr" I was all set to go to jail but the deputy said "thats what you get for cutting school" and turned around and walked to his car and left. Renewed my respect for RCSD.

storiesihaveread
358
Points
storiesihaveread 09/06/13 - 10:09 am
0
0
My Son

Is a LEO with one of the counties listed in the story. He has gotten those calls. The bad part is when the parents call 911 to report it. That is abuse of 911. Just need to look up the dispatch number and call that number.

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