Kiwi Polemicist

January 25, 2009

Mother expects police to control her 10 year old son

Stuff is reporting that a ten year old boy stole his mother’s car and went for 100 km (62 mi) drive. A stunt like that takes a lot of arrogance and rebellion, but the most revealing part of the article is at the end:

She [the boy’s mother] had been trying to get Scott some help after he got into trouble shoplifting recently. “I had hoped the police might use some scare tactics to get him back on the right track”.

I don’t know this family, but the usual story behind such situations is as follows. The child is raised with little or no discipline in a child-run home, a home where the parents are running around satisfying every whim of their children. Basically Little Indian becomes Big Chief, and the child learns that he can get whatever he wants whenever he wants it by making enough fuss and/or by physically intimidating his parents. This is the child that you see throwing a Force 10 tantrum in the supermarket when Mum won’t buy him a lollipop, whilst remaining capable of instantly turning into an angel when he does receive what he desires.

Then one day this child is alone in a shop and sees a chocolate bar that he wants. No one has ever refused him anything so he thinks that world exists to satisfy his lusts. Those lusts are the most important thing is his egocentric soul, far more important than the property rights of the shopkeeper, so he takes what he desires. He’s drooling in anticipation of the chocolate bar that is the focus of his affections so, like a male on a Baywatch set, he trips over his tongue and gets caught.

His parents then throw their hands in the air and wail “Woe is us, our child is a criminal, how can this be?”. They have absolutely no idea how to manage their child, so they turn to the state and expect it to discipline their child. But it’s far too late to set this child right, because the Creed of Selfishness (“I, Me, My”) was engraved on his heart long ago, and no state can change that.

This is how criminals are made.

What do you think about the points I have raised here?

Click here for an update to this post.



  1. The first 3 years are vital, and there is little the State schooling system or police can do to correct a child if they have been led astray at that age. But those years are important purely because that is when a child learns morality (how to behave, sit still, not hit people, not steal…). Unfortunately teaching morality seems out of fashion these days, it is easier to take things out of a child’s reach than teach them not to grab them. And morality itself is even debated.

    Having an 8 month old son is very educational! In the past I’d have wondered why some children misbehave, you quickly learn why when you actually have a child of your own. It can be so tempting to slip into the easy way out to avoid conflicts in the present, rather than taking a few minutes to teach the child to behave and reaping the benefits in the future. And I certainly can’t claim to be perfect myself!

    Comment by Mr Dennis — January 26, 2009 @ 9:52 am

  2. By the way, she is teaching the child that the police are nasty ogres who will punish him. He should be learning the police are good people who will help him – if he is in trouble or lost he needs to know he can go to the police for help (sure there are examples of police not being good but that should be the exception rather than the rule).

    The mother is unintentionally producing an adversarial relationship with the law in her son right from his first contact with the police.

    Comment by Mr Dennis — January 26, 2009 @ 9:58 am

    • Samuel: good point about teaching the boy that the police are ogres.

      The Jesuits say that if they have a child for the first seven years that child will be a Catholic for life, and it’s interesting that the state tries very hard to get children into school at age five. Some Christian writers have said that the first 3-4 years are critical, as you do. It starts from day one, e.g. if the mother picks up the child every time it cries it learns that it can manipulate the mother.

      Putting things out of reach of a child is the infantile equivalent of prison, i.e. physical prevention of wrongdoing, and does not teach any good morals.

      Yes, it is very easy to avoid conflict with a child and make a rod for your own back, not to mention the harm to the child.

      Comment by kiwipolemicist — January 26, 2009 @ 11:57 am

  3. […] my earlier post I wrote about a pint-sized 10-year-old who stole his mother’s car and went for a 100 km (62 […]

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