Posted by: mollyrossiter | April 16, 2009

Parents or The Law?

I have a parental predicament.

This morning, as I was pulling out of my driveway, a neighbor stopped me. It seems that yesterday afternoon — in broad daylight — a couple of teenagers tried to work over my yard. I live on the corner, so they first tried to take the stop sign in the city-owned part of “my” yard. They then messed with some city construction markers and then — and here’s where I come in — one of them jumped on my mailbox and knocked it over.

Now, to his credit, the kid picked it back up and straightened it — which kind of makes me think he didn’t intend to knock it over.

Then the neighbor finished his story: before hitting my house, the two spray-painted the hood of my neighbor’s truck. And set the boots of a couple of fishermen on fire as they (the boots) sat by the tackle box.

So here’s my predicament: Do I talk to the parents first, or go directly to law enforcement? They knocked over my mailbox, but they did put it back up. On the other hand, they exhibited a great deal of other bad behavior that makes me think this isn’t the first time they’ve done this.

I posed the question to my followers on Twitter. Of those who replied, three-fourths said to go to the parents. One offered this advice: “I would say the parents. They’ll be appalled and let the kid have it. Call the cops and they’ll be mad at you instead.”

If I go to the parents, I put trust in them that they will take care of the situation. If I go to law enforcement, I’m relatively certain officers will take care of the problem, but vandalizing a mailbox is, I believe, a felony and these kids are just 14. Am I ready to do that to a child?

I don’t think so.

 I think I will choose that option for now. As a parent, I would hope that if my children should do something like that I would be given the opportunity to take care of the situation before it escalated too far, before my child became a permanent file in a district court office.



  1. Hopefully, you live in a much better neighborhood than I do. I had two young teens ask if I wanted my sidewalk shoveled (for $15). I replied no, thank you. They were standing inside my enclosed porch where my shovel was…the next thing I knew, I looked out my window and they were shoveling my walk (only part of it). I thought how strange and then discovered my snow shovel was GONE. We watched where they went one day and so I went up to the house and confronted the mom (who looked like she was hungover). She hollered at her son and asked him if he took it and he said “no”. (It was his friend, so that was true.) She says her boy doesn’t lie. I apologized and left. She sent the “friend” home after that. I mentioned it to a policeman who was in the neighborhood for something else. I told him about all the vandalism. They didn’t care. Just kids being kids. I told them about the drug dealing in my neighborhood. He already knew that and shrugged…pretty much said there was nothing they could do–not enough police force to catch them. The more I thought about the kids who stole the shovel, the more I wondered if they stole it to earn money so they could eat because their parents were too busy dealing drugs or using drugs to take care of them. Sad, isn’t it?

  2. I agree with you – parents first. If the parents don’t take it seriously then you’ve still got the option of going to the law enforcement.

    What awful behavior though, surely there are better things to do if you’re bored! I hope your talk with the parents goes ok.

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