Sometimes parents are put into difficult situations with their teenagers. One scenario in particular seems to run counter to everything you think your role as a parent should be. How would it feel, as a mum or dad, to have to call the police on your teenager?
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Some readers of The Kids Are All Right have shared their experiences of getting the police involved in their family problems. Both ‘Mama K’ and ‘Mum of Adult Kids’ sought help from the police to remove their teenager from the family home for violent behaviour. Both say it was one of the hardest things they have ever done, yet both say it was the right thing to do.
“I felt like the worst mother in the world. I was meant to protect him but I was the one getting him in trouble”
“I felt like the worst mother in the world. I was meant to protect him but I was the one getting him in trouble,” said MamaK. “The police were fantastic with him but they also very firmly advised him that if this behavior continued things would not end well for him. They actually praised my husband and I for taking a stand and assured us their job was to assist us and make sure he got help for his anger issues. He attended counselling and we haven’t had an issue since. He later told me he was glad I had done it as he knew he was out of control.”
Mum of Adult Kids said she was at “breaking point” when one night, during another of her son’s violent rants, she called police “out of fear and despair”.
“They were fantastic. They sat down and talked with me, then they talked with him. They let me make the decisions about what was to happen next. I didn’t want him in any ‘trouble’, I just wanted to help him to see that his behaviour is not acceptable. He was an adult, and this is what happens to violent adults! At my request, the police escorted him from my premises, took his house keys and stayed until he had gone. I was absolutely devastated and walked around like a zombie for weeks, but it was the right thing to do. I wish I’d had the courage to do it when he was 15! He didn’t speak to me for about four months, and that was ok. We slowly put our relationship back together, and he moved back a few months later.”
“The police were fantastic. They sat down and talked with me, then they talked with him. I didn’t want him in any ‘trouble’, I just wanted to help him to see that his behaviour is not acceptable.”
What happens if you call the police on your teenager?
We spoke with Carleen York, the NSW Police Assistant Commissioner and Youth Spokesperson, about why parents might choose to call the police and what happens if they do.
Under what circumstance do parents call the police about their teenager?
Some of the circumstances include children who are missing, parents who are concerned about the possible use of drugs or alcohol, theft or domestic violence, and in extreme circumstances when a child is uncontrollable.
What will happen when they call the police?
Depending on the circumstances, police can take a number of courses of action. It may range from criminal charges to a referral to an external agency. In relation to young people, police always canvass all other available options before proceeding to formal charges.
How can the police help families resolve their difficulties with their teenagers?
The majority of Local Area Commands have a number of specialist officers including a domestic violence liaison officer, and youth liaison officers. These officers are trained in these areas and are able to provide advice and make referrals for members of the public experiencing specific issues.
Need more help?
Every state and territory police force has officers dedicated to youth issues. If you are experiencing serious troubles with your teenager and think it’s time to seek help from the police, please contact your local police station who will put you in contact with the youth liaison officer.