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Robbery Victim's Unusual Punishment for Teens Doesn't Include the Cops

Posted by on Jul. 10, 2013 at 11:55 AM
  • 16 Replies

Robbery Victim's Unusual Punishment for Teens Doesn't Include the Cops

by Jeanne Sager

cellphoneI tend to take a hard line on discipline. I cheered when a dad found stolen goods in his kid's room and turned the little thief in to the cops. But a woman who took unusual steps after she found the cellphone of a teenager in her ransacked car has me wondering if I'm a little too hard.

Eliza Webb could have called the cops immediately, but the woman who works with high schoolers had a hunch the phone belonged to a teenager. So she didn't.

Instead, Webb wanted to talk to the kid and his parents and see if she could figure out how to deal with his bad behavior without ruining his life. As Webb told the Seattle Times:

I think bringing the police and courts into something like this can have long-term, devastating consequences for kids.

She's right.

Get the cops involved, and you're talking about giving a kid a record, a record that could follow them for the rest of their life. 

Sometimes, that's necessary. Sometimes, it's overkill.

So how do you know the difference?

More from The Stir: 6 Sneaky Parent Tricks to Keep Your Teen in Line

In Webb's case, she ended up meeting with the kid and taking him and his teenage accomplice door-to-door in their neighborhood, apologizing to neighbors for breaking into their cars and returning the items they'd stolen. The teens also have to write a letter of apology that will be read at a community block party. Having to own up to what they'd done and doing it face-to-face surely made an impact on those kids, maybe even more of an impact than standing in a courtroom with a judge and prosecutor who represent The Man.

As a mom, I'd like to think I would have turned my kid in to the authorities if I found out what they'd been doing. But this ... this doesn't seem like such a bad option either.

I can't help but wonder: is this the difference between a parent disciplining and a stranger punishing a kid?

Do we as parents have to be harder on our kids than strangers? Can strangers teach the lesson we need to teach with strength by showing compassion?

I'm not suggesting that we turf our disciplining to other people -- I'd much prefer my kid never end up hurting someone else and ending up in a position like this -- but the "it takes a village" mentality of parenting certainly seems to have worked here. And it can work in most situations; if people show a little common sense when dealing with miscreant teenagers.

You don't ALWAYS have to call the cops. Sometimes the lessons are much more profound if they're dealt with on a human level.

Look at Eliza Webb. She didn't let the kids "get away" with breaking into her car. But she didn't turn to the cops either. Good for her. Good for her for doing her part in the global village and helping shape the next generation.

If only more people were like her.

Perhaps it's a little hypocritical to want a little forgiveness from strangers that we ourselves won't give our kids. But one thing I've learned over the years is that kids tend to take things better from someone who is NOT their parent. Other people simply don't HAVE to be as hard on our kids to get them to shape up.

Put yourself in these parents' shoes.

Would you want someone calling the cops on your kid or dealing with it as Webb did?

by on Jul. 10, 2013 at 11:55 AM
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Replies (1-10):
atlmom2
by Susie on Jul. 10, 2013 at 12:11 PM
If kids break the law they do the time and consequences. Sorry, don't be stupid and break the law in the first place.
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v2011
by on Jul. 10, 2013 at 12:14 PM

I love creative discipline.  Good for Webb. 

elkmomma
by on Jul. 10, 2013 at 12:26 PM

In this case what Webb did was wonderful, this is what "it takes a village" means.  I love creative forced accountability, it seems to have a greater impact on many kids and keeps them thinking before acting.

drfink
by Emily on Jul. 10, 2013 at 12:41 PM

I saw  this elsewhere and think it is great.I was a volunteer Juvenile Probation Officer for lower level crimes.This is better than we could hand out ,we couldn't order them to apologize to each victim ,just community service ,grades and a paper the first time they were caught.This is great .

ejwhite_99
by Bronze Member on Jul. 11, 2013 at 10:16 AM

I think it was a great alternative for this situation.  I'm glad the parents agreed to allow her to do what she did.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of parents who refuse to believe their little angels can do any wrong and would have told Ms. Webb to take a hike.  That had to be a very humbling experience for the boys to face off with their victims that way.  I'm assuming the victims accepted their apologies as the article doesn't mention any form of retaliation.  I would have never thought to do that.  I more than likely would have called the cops.  This woman took a much more "proactive" approach to the situation rather a "reactive" approach such as calling the cops.  As a result, these boys maintain a clean record and will hopefully lead crime free lives from this point on.  Ms. Webb probably should have written up an agreement that the boys would not commit such a crime again or else they would be punished by the law for all the wrong they did to those they apologized to, and then had them sign it.

luckysevenwow
by Platinum Member on Jul. 11, 2013 at 10:21 AM

I think any time the law can be kept out of something like this is great. The law get's brought in way to much, but the parents of these kids have to be on board also and sometimes that can be the tricky part.

bizzeemom2717
by on Jul. 11, 2013 at 1:43 PM
1 mom liked this
I agree and was thinking the same

Quoting luckysevenwow:

I think any time the law can be kept out of something like this is great. The law get's brought in way to much, but the parents of these kids have to be on board also and sometimes that can be the tricky part.

Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Genie2
by on Jul. 11, 2013 at 4:55 PM

You have to try new kinds of punishment sometimes.  I think this was very creative.  When I was a kid to early teens, I would get swats with a paddle or hand.  Nowadays, I use time out and take things away(cell phone, videogames, etc).  I of course, have grounded him a few times also.  To answer the question..  I would like them to come to me.  We could talk about a fitting punishment together and talk to him to figure out why he is acting out.

sahlady
by Gold Member on Jul. 11, 2013 at 5:41 PM

I think the kids should have to pay back any insurance deductibles too.

02nana07
by Ida on Jul. 11, 2013 at 8:08 PM
1 mom liked this

 As long as the kids paid any and all damage done to the cars and returned everything along with an apology I see no problem with keeping the police out of it

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