You’d better be good

In South Carolina, a mother had her 12-year old son arrested for unwrapping a gift early. Mom is 27. The boy’s great-grandmother is 63. The mother said she’s unable to control her child, who’s been in trouble before, and wants to the juvenile justice system to take over.

When I was writing on welfare reform for the San Jose Mercury News, I interviewed a mother who’d gotten her son arrested for writing gang graffiti on her notebook. He was 12 too and out of control. She didn’t know what to do to get his attention. The arrest got the boy a parole officer, who signed him up for Little League. He traded gang life for baseball and football. Last I heard he was close to a high school diploma and thinking about enlisting in the Marines. The mother, who’d gone on welfare at 17 when her first child was born, has been working happily for many years now.

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  1. Although the second case turned out well, those methods are a bit extreme and the outcome is probably not repeatable.