When the cops were called to bust up a house party in an upper-middle class neighbourhood of Toronto, even they were disgusted when a half-dozen teenage boys circled the cruiser to pee on it in unison. Police officers expect to be grossed out by many of the unsavoury characters they encounter, but it’s still hard to stomach disrespectful teenagers.
And one night, as we sit together sharing a pizza, all five officers at the table firmly agree on one thing: It’s hard to be a kid today.
Here is advice straight from the mouths of five police officers, who are with the Toronto Police Service, to help you raise upstanding, law-abiding citizens.
• Rather than having a “do as I say” attitude, lead your family with a “do as I do” view.
“Most parents do care when we bring their kids home, but the ones who stand out in our minds are the ones who are more concerned about whether or not we actually saw their kids doing it … the ‘not my kid’ attitude … and the ones who are way more concerned about the neighbours seeing what’s going on than what actually happened with their child,” says police constable Peter Yan.
• Always keep the computer in a place where you can see it, such as in the living room, screen facing out.
“Plus, parents should educate themselves on the programs the kids are using. You don’t want to invade their privacy, but you do need to learn the lingo. It’s quite frightening if you take a look at the history on your computer and you see some of the websites your children are visiting,” says Sergeant Blair Davey.
• Be cognizant of the wording you use when referring to the police.
“Don’t introduce us to your kids as someone who will put them in jail if they are naughty. Instead, introduce us as someone who will help to keep them safe,” says retired police constable Dan Doyle.
• Police can help, but they can’t parent your kids.
“We get calls from parents to say that their kid won’t get up and go to school. A lot of parents want to be their kids’ best friend, but you still have to be in a position of authority so that you are in control of the household. They are still your children and you are still responsible for raising them,” says police constable Jason Kehler.
• Don’t hesitate to get involved.
“We want to be able to teach kids to resolve conflict, but we also must recognize when it’s beyond their scope (like cyber-bullying),” says police constable Jennifer Knott.
Written by Renee Wilson, a Stouffville, Ont.,-based freelance writer who is grateful that her two children, ages six and five, idolize their uncle, a police officer.