Failed Parenting 101: Mothers Turn In Teen Boys for Stealing

Philadelphia parents turn their sons in after seeing video fooage of teen boys robbing a 9-year-old 3rd grade child.


by Maria Lloyd

Today I was taken aback after reading this New York Daily News article titled “Good Parenting 101: Mom turns son in after seeing him on tape stealing from 9-year-old girl.” Of course I was taken aback by the teens’ actions, but what was more appalling were the actions of their mothers. In their ignorance, they’ve prematurely placed their sons in the system indefinitely. Punishing them in-house and seeking solutions to understand why the teens engaged in said criminal activities would’ve yielded a rewarding outcome in the long-term; however, the mothers have decided to allow the system to raise their sons… And we all know how well the system does (insert sarcasm here). The United States’ “rehabilitation” of its criminals is so flawed that nearly 70 percent of criminals offend again within three  years of release. And for the crime these teen boys committed, 70.2 percent of robbers repeat their offense. So, bravo to the two mothers who have helped Philadelphia Police ruin their sons’ lives. If they were doing their job as parents, the boys probably wouldn’t have engaged in the criminal activity at all.

Here are ways to tame untamed youth:

1. Keep them busy. 

If you have unruly children, your best option is not to turn them over to police. You are to keep them busy. Have you ever heard the adage “Idle time is the Devil’s time“? Well, giving your kids too much free time will surely set them up for engagement in risky activities. Place them in extra-curricular programs. Between school and extra-curricular activities, your child should be so busy that they don’t have time to think about committing a crime.

2. Find your child a mentor. 

If your child does not have a stable household with two parents, find them a mentor who you’ve thoroughly vetted and whose judgement you trust. Be  sure to know who  you’re trusting with your child. Placing your child in the hands of pedophiles could essentially turn them from a bad child to the worst child. Single mothers, it is best to find a male mentor for your child, whether your child is a boy or girl. Single fathers, it is best that you find a female mentor for your child, whether your child is a boy or girl. There’s a reason why Mother Nature appointed two people of the opposite gender to create a life. It’s not meant for you to do it alone.

3. Listen to your child. 

As I’ve written previously, it is time for black parents to respect their children and treat them as human beings. You can have authority in your household without demeaning and/or bullying your child. Your household does not have to operate as a dictatorship for you to gain respect. Parents can stop growing problems within their children if they’d take the time to listen to them. A parent who listens to his/her child is able to quickly pick up on drastic changes in the child’s behavior, which can be life saving. Stop screaming and yelling at your child and take the time to listen to them. Your child is a human being just like you. He/she should be able to express themselves in a respectful manner and feel comfortable with expressing themselves to you.

If you are offended by anything I’ve written, you are part of why the black community is worse off today than we were in the 1960′s. If you are seeking someone to stroke your ego and applaud you for raising your child by yourself, I am not that person. I will never agree with withholding children from one of their (stable) parents. And if you are failing to find an adequate mentor for your child in the absence of a stable parent, you are no better than the aforementioned. Our children don’t stand a chance of being successful when their parents are too ignorant and/or stubborn to act in ways that are in the best interest of their child. I don’t know what happened to the two teens whose parents turned them in to police, but I can only hope the police had mercy on them and did not plague them with a criminal record that will hinder them eternally as they seek an education and a career.

Maria Lloyd (@WritingsByMaria) is a contributor for the Your Black World Network and Dr. Boyce Watkins. She is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University and an advocate of dismantling the prison industrial complex, increasing entrepreneurship, reforming education, and eradicating poverty.


165 Responses to Failed Parenting 101: Mothers Turn In Teen Boys for Stealing

  1. I don’t trust our law enforcement/criminal justice system either but the negative focus should be on the CRIMINALS not the mothers who did the right thing.

    Hard working black people living in these type of communities are being terrorized by these type of young thugs. Had these thugs gotten away scott free robbing this little girl they would have possibly graduated to assault and even murder.

    These baby momma’s/baby daddies are certainly part of the problem but the twisted way of thinking of this writer and the criminals she supports is part of why the black community is worse off today than we were in the 1960′s too.

  2. Parrishon Marshall

    I think everyone even the author are being pre-mature about outcomes. Author has already labeled them a thorn in her side and few has institutionalized them. Maybe what mom did will work maybe it won’t. The outcome is not on the mom or the system. They knew stealing can get you in trouble, but they did it any way. Scared straight works at times and in-home consequences sometime works. It’s really depends on the child. Which by the way is insight only the parent is privy too. Which is why calling it failed parenting or calling the parent ignorant is ignorant in itself.

  3. A 6 month old infant was shot five times in a drive-by in Chicago. If the parents of the perpetrators become aware of their child’s involvement in this crime, perhaps they too can engage in some of that “Punishing them in-house and seeking solutions to understand why the teens engaged in said criminal activities”. We wouldn’t want the big bad criminal justice system to potential ruin these rambunctious children’s lives.

  4. What else is new? The mother wants the government to take care of everything for her. The kid is probably in trouble at school too, and I’m sure the mother blames the school for her kid’s poor performance. It’s a shame that anyone consider that SHE should be the one raising, parenting, and teaching her child. Let’s hope she doesn’t have any more.

    • Kerri

      So do tell how do you blame the mother. You have no idea of what you are speaking. I can only assume either you have no children or that they are still young of age so you don’t feel the rebellious stage that children do eventually go through. I am an awesome mother, father died in Iraq in War defending said people such as yourself and so I am parenting two children. My son is 15 and at that stage where he is rebelling. He has been through counseling, mentorship, award system, allowance modification etc and guess what I still have problems with him and contrary to your belief I am a proud MOTHER.

  5. I read the original article, and it states that the Police were looking for help from the public to identify the youths. If the mothers didn’t turn them in, someone else would have. I personally applaud these mothers for doing this. In my opinion, this is sending a message that they will not cover or tolerate this type of behavior. I completely disagree with the author when she states “If they were doing their job as parents, the boys probably wouldn’t have engaged in the criminal activity at all”. That is an unfair statement to ALL PARENTS, single or married. You can raise your children with all the virtues and values of the Bible and society, and children will REBEL. So I am taken aback by this article in its entirety.

  6. Since their’s not such a thing as parenting 101, let’s just say the mother did what she thought was best based upon her knowledge and understanding of the total situation!

    Ms. Lloyd, it is not your’s nor is it our business!

    It may or may not have been the perfect solution!

    The last word goes to the mother!

  7. I applaud the mothers for being honest and we must make our children accountable for their action. The criminal justice system is two sided and instead of criticizing mothers how about the community step up and assist. I was raised by the village and right from wrong was instilled. We as African Americans have lost the sense of value and the children that are being raised in this sociey they are disrespectful, rude, and spoiled. They all are looking to blame someone and its time to close the blame card and make them responsible they knew better expect them to do better. IJS FEDUP with excuses.

  8. Ms Lyod who r u to judge? I assume you have no children. What if the mothers have tried everything? You don’t know what’s going on in their household so spare us your lessons on parenting.

  9. At this very moment all over the world we are experiencing a social revolution that is silently placing the less fortunate into a caste system. Parents cannot access what they don’t have. Your suggestions and ideology for parenting are excellent in a perfect world. The challenges of single parenting AA Boys are enormous and overwhelming. The blind blaming of single mothers adds to the negative discourse of single mothers parenting AA boys. Single mothers are not the cause of a system that uses socioeconomic conditions to imprison our Black Men. There are many single parents who do not have sons in trouble, just as there are many who have sons in the prison system. Perhaps the parent had nowhere to turn, perhaps she had exhausted all means to control or manage her sons, and perhaps she was parenting from her negative experiences. The real issue is the manner in which our juveniles are handled in the school to prison pipeline. It does not matter if they are from single or two parent households, AA boys are disproportionately handled differently. The dissolution of our family structures has been perpetuated by numerous socio-economic ills and political policies. I wish this was a one stop fix all problem, but it is not. We must begin to address these problems as a family community and not from subjective divisive commentary. I believe there needs to be major changes in the imprisonment of our AA youths/men; but let us not throw the single mother under the bus. Find them, seek them out and support them. It isn’t easy being a parent, and much harder being a single woman and parenting Boys. No we are not failing parents. We are challenged parents with successes and some failures like anyone else. Referencing single mothers as ignorant and stubborn are typical for those that lack sincere compassion for those less fortunate. There will always be the poor, incompetent, uneducated, and socio-economical deprived among us. This is where you fit in. We have a spiritual mandate to take care of social ills. Anger and hostile descriptions of the parenting skills of single mothers is not helpful.

    • I agree totally. You know that there stands to reason every point as being valid. I can imagine that these mother’s where at the end of their rope with these young men. The caste system is being furthered by people such as this author who believe that mothers would “turn over” their sons. where are the Fathers in this situation? Maybe locked up themselves. It is time out for pointing fingers, sometimes parenting is trial and error. If these young men face their consequences and change then the mothers job is done. If the young men continue on this path, then the mother’s job is done. society has no more room for empty promises to the nation of young people who are being destroyed by Television and images of rappers. We have a lot of work to do. I am ready for the revolution when conscious individuals stand up for the young people who deserve a better way of life.

  10. There are a few ways to analyze each opinion but i believe being a positive example for your children works. No ,I do not have a singular answer to solve the problem. However, with over 17 years experience in law enforcement I have seen a lot. Negative / criminal behavior should be handled immediately by the parent. Unfortunately, so many children are raised teen parents who do not have a clue how to raise children( teaching morals and values) that as a result we see these behaviors. For those who come from a so called good home( two parent home in the suburbs) and commit crimes can be contributed to parents working all the time and pacifying their children with material parenting. Again, I do not have all the answers just some experience ( parent/ law enforcement). Most importantly, people parent the way they were raised.

  11. Im glad she turned them in.Where’s the father? Does he exist? TAKE BIRTH CONTROL so that we dont have to deal with these hoodlums with no daddy!

  12. “Idle time is the Devil’s time“? Well, No, it’s the devil’s “playground”. Great article, simply Great!!!!

  13. Was there a history of stealing in and out of the home already taking place? Were they bullying their mother in the home already stealing from her as well? Was this her last option and were they warned to stop criminal behaviors or she would turn them in. They stole from a 9 year old, obviously they were bullies. We don’t know to what extent of exasperation this mother has been enduring to correct these young men. Correct your children, correct your children,correct your children!! However some obviously fail to heed that constant attempt…looks like mom is at her end, she’s lost…I have a friend going through the same thing 2parent home, they have sought out counseling, mentor ship, positive men in their lives and women, keeping them busy, putting them in college (they stopped attending and it was 4 months until the parents found out), church counseling, meetings with police officer whom we know personally to help with positive in put, night out with the “Big Boys”, well…he just got arrested selling drugs..she made him wait until she got him out because she was at her wits end, his in home behavior which outsiders have no idea was disgusting, so they’ve judged her for letting him “suffer” his few days in lock up. Her heart is broken, his parents did all they could. Still trying, but thinking now that perhaps he should serve some time…what option is left? He’s home now awaiting his day in court pouting, head hung his mom left him in jail. How about how he sold drugs and stole, rejected all forms of counsel and discipline. How about the shame and heart break to the family, guess who had a girl in his momma’s bed? WTH else was left for them to do?! We do not know what that woman who turned her own in went through. Who’s the failed parent? Or is it that these young men failed their parent. Help me out with this one,I believe she did the right thing. h**l, you can’t put them out because they’re minor…once they find that out it’s like they have a free pass to act like d**n fools. I have a Son too didn’t have to go through this heartache…thank God he listened and wanted to do right, his father was no role model either but was in the home. He saw what he did not want to be. Cousins male and female locked up. My son walked a different path, he often walked that path rejected by his peer and yes some adult because he was a “punk” no my loving family he was a man before he knew what a man was. I thank God my son and daughters listened. I would love grand children, but I have to wait. My son wants a wife not a baby’s momma, my daughters want families as well. I’m getting old and if I don’t get to see grandchildren I’m still proud that my world of work. Productive young black people whom are also mentors.

  14. So the boys were caught on tape stealing from a little girl..the police was looking for them..Maria’s solution is to shelter them and punish them in house until the police come knocking???? This is ridiculous. Now let’s say the mom did what Maria suggested. Flash forward 5 years from now, the boys shoot a innocent girl standing outside after school and kills her. The community is yelling that someone should turn these boys in,,but no the mom will not because she will punish in house and not subject her boys to the unfair justice system. This would be the boys future. We all know parents who don’t allow their kids to suffer consequences for their actions..who lie and cover for them..who pretend they are going to handle it, but we know they don’t. Then we all see these same kids get older and become menaces in our communities and the mothers still do the same thing. Its a slippery slope. She didn’t introduce them to the system, they introduced themselves. Now they know their mom won’t be the hideout when they commit a crime. She just SAVED her son. For those who think she did the wrong thing, please don’t raise your kids in the same community as I raise mine. Go somewhere where everyone can hide their kids from each other when they do wrong. I need to know I can trust my neighbors

  15. When parents teach their children to do wrong it often comes back to their very own door.

  16. If we as a community had our own institutions for dealing with that type of behavio, I would say don’t turn him in and let us handle our own with a mixture of strict dicipline and consequences and love. But the fact is we don’t have institutions like that. By institutions I mean stand alone, self funded with no one pulling the purse strings but us. Places wher we can teach our kids according to our morals and values and not somebody elses … and I don’t mean churches. My sense is that this woman was at her wits end with this kid … she felt she has tried everything and turning him in was the only option. If we had institutions where we could scare the kid straight fine but we don’t. We chose to integrate into other people’s institutions so we have no national system to educate and mold our children. The fact that they ripped off a little girl makes this even more serious. If that had been my little girl they would be better off in jail because I’d have put them in the hospital.

  17. Pingback: Failed Parenting 101: Mothers Turn In Teen Boys for Stealing | YNaija

  18. An excellent article by Maria Lloyd. Sensible and polite advice.

    • What’s polite about calling anyone who disagrees with her “ignorant”. She also make an assumption that the mother relinquished her sons’ parenting to the Philadelphia police. She doesn’t know that. What an assumption!
      While I agree with her individual suggestions, we should be careful not to let children get the notion that their parents will always be able to protect them from their criminal actions. Because, that’s simply not true.

  19. First of all we rear children and raise animals. SecondlY, all the world owes any of us is a good swift kick in the a$$ and it’s just waiting to give it to us. Finally, as a former defense attorney and prosecuter this was not a parenting fail. There are consequences to actions. Period! Right is right, period! Without knowing the specifics of the homelife, behavior patterns of the boys, or the efforts of these Mothers to rar them to date; I believe any judging or finger pointing is premature, unfounded, unsupported, and unmerritorious. Black boys need to understand that Mama’s not going to support your robbing a 9 year-old child, she “ain’t” gonna hide you from the authorities, or give you a pass on what is criminally and morally repulsive. Tough love dear heart. If the Mother’s didn’t draw a line in the sand now I assure you the activity will escalate and they would be putting together bail money, putting their house for a property bond soon enough. The parenting actions offered are fine if working from ground zero but the tactics would be lost on these two boys who obviously are morally bankrupt and are willling to risk everything for $13 dollars. The tactics that should be utilized must be consistent with the activity. You’ve got to meet folks where they are, not where you want them to be. While the boys are not beyond talking to, mentoring, etc. That needs to be coupled with a double dose of reality. They deserve to be in the system, and made to address the misdemeanor charges. Doing the right thing ain’t easy, if it were more folks would do it. Facing the truth about one’s flesh and blood is a hard pill to swallow. I had to tell a friend I thought her 5 year-old was a sociopath. She was angry at first but dealt with the behavior hands on via counselling, parenting and tough love; now he is a well adjusted 18 year-old entering college next fall. But she and me as a villager concerned about his well being had to put in the work. Life and this is all about choices and consequences and the Inconvenient Truth is that if their mothers had not turned them in someone else would have done so. And the Mother’s failure to do so wwould have only made them complicit in the travesty. The saving grace is that they are salvagable and they are definately going to be given an opportunity to make better choices. Finally, I was shocked by the back and forth in the comments section. This was an opinion piece that solicited comments but it should not have turned into a debate or verbal attacks. Many protested far too much which confirmed that some of the accusations were true, hit a nerve, and hit close to home. Sadly, the intellect evaporated from the debate and the usefulness of the dialogue ceased. Opinions are like a$$holes, everybody’s got one. So the question is are you putting in the work? What are you doing personally to make a difference? Formally or informally entoring? Reminding your own children or the children in your life about choices and consequences? Wake-up villagers, we’ve got to rear, love, mentor, encourage, and get tough with the village’s children otherwise they’re all doomed to be the village idiots.

  20. K. August, I applaud you. I’m so tired of the word ignorant. Just because people do something you don’t agree with, it’s branded ‘ignorant’. Unless you know the families personally and know how much they’ve reared the children towards doing right, you don’t have much room to talk. You can quote statistics and still, it won’t apply to everyone. I know people that said getting arrested turned them around while others got even worse.

    I sincerely hope you take your own advice if a child robbed you. I hope you find out who they are, inform their parents but refrain from calling the cops so they aren’t put into that system. Scratch that!!! Just don’t tell at all. For everyone else’s sake, I hope the child finds a mentor and does a 180. Until proven, it’s just an “educated” guess.

  21. K. August, I applaud you. I’m so tired of the word ignorant. Just because people do something you don’t agree with, it’s branded ‘ignorant’. Unless you know the families personally and know how much they’ve reared the children towards doing right, you don’t have much room to talk. You can quote statistics and still, it won’t apply to everyone. I know people that said getting arrested turned them around while others got even worse.

    I sincerely hope you take your own advice if a child robbed you. I hope you find out who they are, inform their parents but refrain from calling the cops so they aren’t put into that system. Scratch that!!! Just don’t tell at all. For everyone else’s sake, I hope the child finds a mentor and does a 180. If only life were that easy!

  22. A neighbor’s son broke into someone’s home and stole a stereo system. That following weekend, the mother organized an impromptu block party.

    She made her son take the stereo back to the owner and after that she tore his a$$ up in front of the whole block.

    It worked for awhile, but when the mother got sick, her son was back to stealing again, until a neighbor told him, if anything comes up missing he will come up missing.

    After that no problems.

  23. @ KK J August. I really appreciated your comments. I think part of the problem with the tones of the comments started with the tone of the article. It came across as mean spirited and judgemental. When we look.around and see our young black people die by the hundreds, we are scared to death. Then we have a mom who is trying to stop her son from being the next one buried. In return we get a woman who trashes her on a public forum. We can’t help but to respond in kind. Maybe she should have written the article asking “could there have been an alternative solution”. This would have led to an open discussion about options for our children. One last thing, we can not afford to be soft on our sons. I assure you the world is waiting to chew them up and spit them out. I also wonder about the little girl, how IS she doing? WILL she fear bigger black males from now on? Maybe Maria can do article about her. The aftermath of something like this happening to a nine year old

  24. @Ms. Lloyd, are you saying that your own mother was a failure for what your brother did at 15? Is that why your have such hostility towards the mother in this story!

    I come from s very well off family (financially, emotionally, etc., with both parents) and they did all of the things you mentioned and more to make sure we grew up to well adjusted individuals. I am black and went to mostly all white schools for the better education. One year I ran with a group of wild white kids in high school. We ALL were caught shop lifting and went to court and were charged. Their parents paid their ways out but mine made me deal with the consequences. I applaud them for that decision. I am now in my early 40s with a college education and a great career. My record is sealed and unless I plan to work for the Government (which I don’t) my juvi record stays sealed and tucked away for good. I had great patents and glad that I took my lumps for MY actions. Hopefully these boys will learn to stay out of trouble. Don’t be so quick to judge this mother.

  25. Sorry about the typos.

  26. YOU CAN RAISE YOUR CHILDREN WELL but it doesn’t guarantee how they will turn out.IT use to take a village to raise a child but the ‘village’ today is tainted. I ALSO BELIEVE THAT THERE ARE TOO MANY WORKING PARENTS. CHILDREN/TEENS SPEND TOO MUCH TIME ALONE AND WITH FRIENDS-They get into trouble. TOO MANY SINGLE PARENTS

  27. Well Ms Maria, you seem like you have resentment from your home life. I was raised with a mother/father, I attended chruch more than other kids in my neighborhood. At 11yrs old I was the one that got into trouble with the law. I knew better, everyone was doing it so I thought, what’s the big deal? I took candy from the local corner store, the clerk called the police on me. Now I was suppose to be at the bus stop waiting on the bus, but it was late as usual. Is my mother/father to blame? My mother tried to pay for the items I took, but the owner wouldn’t accept her money. I was banned from the store and I received probation. That was the most shameful day for my mother. We lived in a nice, diverse neighborhood so any criminal activity was rare. I believe it made all the other kids fearful and maybe that kept them from being in my situation. Although, I think reimbursement should be enough in my situation, I take full responsibility for making the choice to steal.

  28. Hello, Neat post. There’s a problem together with your web site in internet explorer, may check this? IE still is the market leader and a large component of folks will pass over your magnificent writing due to this problem.

  29. Oh please. These boys were headed towards “the system” anyway. Most likely within the next couple of days. The mothers just put a little rush on it.

  30. Kids will do stupid things regardless of who is raising them. The mothers who turned these kids in did the right thing.

  31. make them obey and pay up now or they will do it later. Taken aback because she turn him in? That’s the effing problem right there condoning bad behavior. Kids learn I can do what I want, I can steal my mama ain’t gonna turn me in. If the child knows that the parents isn’t going to allow them to do such thing, they won’t do it again.Parents put the fear into them now and maybe just maybe they police won’t have to later.

  32. As a social worker in Philadelphia working with youth 16-21 I have witnessed and participated in several juvenile court hearing. I’ll be the 1st to agree that our penal system is beyond flawed and there are several Black men and women who do not get a fair shake. However, there are several juvenile judges and master at Family Court (1801 Vine Street) that are more concerned with the youth receiving an education, learning the hard lessons now before entering the adult system. I INVITE THE AUTHOR OF THIS ARTICLE TO VISIT FAMILY COURT HERE IN PHILLY I’m quite sure you’ll be surprised as was I when I moved here. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few who simply report for work to do a job but there are also those that genuinely care for the youth. Btw, depending on the charge those boys will NOT have a record that follows them for the rest of their lives. Should they find that they need assistance with having their record expunged I encourage them to speak to their juvenile probation officers or The Juvenile Law Center (1315 Walnut St). It’s time we stop criticizing one another and looking for a place to blame. It takes a village and sometimes that villiage includes us: social workers, juvenile probation officers, and judges! If you want to help young ppl there are countless. Pick one and become a mentor because critism on a page means nothing!

  33. More parents should do the same thing

  34. All your argument is cerebral and senseless academic. The stats you quoted are the same skewed stats thrownmabout by sociologists bent on keeping Blacks black. The mother(s) are to be commended for having the courage to act to save their erring boys. For bad behaviour there must not be a second time. It must be sanctioned the first time or it will be repeated. Do your research that and you will that permissive parenting leads down the way of delinquency and thus to incarceration. Sure, the action ofmthe parents may have been a bit over-reaching, but I know of a young man whose mama turned in to authorities for stealing but who is today a nice, responsible adult making great strides in society. He credits his mother’s action for turning him from crime to a lifetime of law-abiding exixtence. Do not confusemthe gullible minds of those you claim to be helping with skewed statistics. Just the facts, please.

  35. You’re unqualified to judge the experience of which you have not experienced. In judging, you attract responsibility to ‘right a wrong’. That is a whole responsibility–especially froma self-appointed stance.

  36. Has anyone thought that maybe it was a first criminal offense and maybe it was the parents way of letting her child know that this type of behavior will not be accepted. I know I sure instilled in my children’s heads that if they committed a crime that they had better be ready to deal with the consequence. If you get arrested don’t call me. It worked, never got a call or any charges bought up against my single parent children. Get real, when you teach your children right from wrong and they chose to do wrong, they should be ready to deal with the system. There are more children committing patty crimes out there then we all want to admit, including some of yours that you have not caught or the so call system has not caught.

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