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Parents should parent, not instill fear

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By Alice Du Pont

On Saturday afternoon a little boy at Quincyfest was doing what little kids do, running, flipping and generally using up a lot of energy. I watched him for a few minutes. His mom tried to get him to sit still but all of that fresh air and the grass, seemingly begging to be wallowed in, was too much for the kid.

Sometimes you have to allow children to be children. There were lots of activities for children at the Gadsden Arts Center and the children seemed to enjoy everything. From his face painting, I guess the kid and been there while and mom was enjoying the blues. She was listening to the music and wanted the little one to do the same. But the kid wasn't interested.

In order to get the child to sit down, she spotted a police officer and threatened the child.

"If you don't sit down this minute, I'm going to call that policeman and he'll put you in handcuffs and take you to jail," she hissed.

That child was so frightened that his eyes welled up with tears and he sat quietly next to her as if his little life depended on it. My heart went out to him and I wanted to tell her that vilifying police is not the way to discipline your child. Many people in law enforcement work hard to inform children that police are not people to be afraid of but people who are there to help.

I shudder to think that one day, when the boy is a few years older and maybe walking alone, and a stranger comes up to him and says something inappropriate. If he sees a police officer, is he likely to call out for help? I don't think so because in the back if his still childish mind the police officer is there to handcuff you and put you in jail.

Her aim, no doubt, was to enjoy the music without having to watch over him but the course she took to get him to sit down was, to me, just wrong. That's not the first time I have heard children threatened with police to get them to behave themselves.

That's a form of intimidation that places another person in the line of fire where you have fallen short.