TODD LIHOU - EDITOR: Mom made the right call when she phoned the cops

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It was a hot topic of discussion on our website and social media this week, and was likely debated at length in coffee shops from one end of Cornwall to the other.

A Cornwall mom, fed up with the antics of her 14-year-old son, called the cops after he allegedly stole from the family.

Cornwall police said the youth, who can’t be named because he is under age 18, took about $10 in loose change from mommy's piggy bank earlier this month. Police said it was the second time the little sticky-fingered bandit had been caught with his hand in the, uh, piggy bank.

Last month he lifted a $20 gift card from his mom's wallet.

He now faces charges of theft under $5,000 and two counts of breach of probation – which confirms this is not the first time junior has been in trouble with mom and dad, or the police.

He'll be before a justice of the peace Feb. 13, but the court of public opinion is already weighing in on this subject – not because of what the teen allegedly did, but debating whether or not mom went too far.

"I'm sorry, but this is ridiculous. Maybe she should impart some discipline on her son herself instead of calling in the police to do her job (and spare me the argument that this is discipline...this is lazy)," said Amy Holden on our website.

"$10 theft and it will cost how much in lawyer fees, probably at the expense of taxpayers for legal aid? What happened to parents grounding kids, or making them work it off," said Danielle Ouimet on our Facebook page.

But not everyone was ready to blame mom.

"Getting authorities involved assures them just how serious you are as a parent. They just might think twice the next time," said Randy Berry on Facebook.

"If more parents taught their children lessons this way, we might have a lot less burglary as a whole," chimed John Rothwell.

"I'm sure it was an incredibly difficult decision for her to make, but definitely the right thing to do. To ground a 14-year-old, or punish them in any way to teach them right from wrong, is almost impossible given the "rights" kids have today - even a cross look is enough to have them cry out "abuse!" This child (and the public) will thank her for having been 'scared straight,'" added Rosemary Petrynka.

So what was the right thing to do? It's kind of ironic that you're reading a column by some wag that doesn't have children yet, but I think the problem is not one of parenting, but instead accountability.

Many experts, whom I happen to agree with, suggest a decision to call the police on your child is not to be taken lightly, but comes down to one simple thing – are they respecting the rules of your home, and that of society?

In this case it would appear not. This 14-year-old boy is going to have a job some day, but if his boss finds him stealing company property he'll be out of work…and maybe even charged again.

So If mom catches him stealing and lets him get away with it, what kind of message is that sending?

That's not to say that every case is the same. And let's face it, everyone reading this column at one point or another lifted something from their parents when they were growing up.

Many of us even had screaming matches with siblings, cousins and parents that would rattle pictures off the wall – but that doesn't mean the cops have to show up.

The difference in this instance is we have a teenager who was already on probation and had rules set down by a court that they should keep the peace and be of good behaviour – whether they were walking down Pitt Street or playing Xbox at home.

The teenage boy failed that test on at least two occasions, and I for one believe mom made the right call when she telephoned police.

The good news is all is not lost when it comes to this child. He's only 14 years old. There's more than enough time for him to learn the difference between the kind of behaviour that will be celebrated, and the kind of actions that will result in handcuffs.

While I'm not ready to suggest he's completely reformed, he's learned that stealing from somebody, even his mother, is something that should not be taken lightly.

And if he's learned anything from the publicity this case has created, it should be that if he keeps stealing past his 18th birthday, his story will appear in a different section of this newspaper – with his name attached.

Geographic location: Cornwall, Pitt Street

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