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Aster's avatar

What would you do if your 12 year old called 911 when you tried to spank him?

Asked by Aster (18947points) August 14th, 2010

A woman who hates to spank attempted to spank her 12 year old son for constantly using profanity but couldn’t catch him. He called 911 and told the police she beat him up so badly he couldn’t move. When they arrived they saw he was fine so they wrote down that he made a false report. What would you, as his mother, do next time he needed a spanking? Do the police have a file on the boy now?

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50 Answers

wilhel1812's avatar

Spanking is outdated.

perspicacious's avatar

Ground him. But, I never hit my kids. I have heard of kids (younger than this one) calling 911 to “tell on” their parents.

Seek's avatar

Why would anyone attempt to spank a 12 year old, when it’s so much easier (and less legally ambiguous) to just remove his electronics privileges?

A spanking vs. a month without computer, cell phone, and video games—which one is going to hurt the kid more?

Aster's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Exactly what I think.

missingbite's avatar

Spanking for that sort of thing is not needed. Spanking is ok if you are trying to gain the attention of a small child for say running into the street. Even then you don’t hit with anger.

I like the idea of grounding but you have to stick to it.

mrentropy's avatar

Taking away their things won’t do anything but make them angrier and convince them that you’re more unfair than they originally thought.

Seek's avatar


Not saying I agree with the concept of punishing the kid for using words I use myself goddammit, but if you’re going to punish him, at least make an effort to not escalate the situation to domestic violence.

Aster's avatar

@mrentropy Who cares if they’re angry? They have got to be made to feel very uncomfortable with using extremely vulgar words on a continual basis. You can say , “I love you and I care about how you appear (uncivilized) to people. So as much as it hurts me , you cannot watch tv, talk on the phone or breathe for a month.”

ragingloli's avatar

I would seek professional help with raising the kid, because if I am at a point, where my child does something like this, then I have obviously failed as a parent.

Aster's avatar

@ragingloli You just may be right about that!

perspicacious's avatar

@ragingloli & @Aster This is hardly something to call in professionals about. Actually this is mild compared to what parents deal with during the junior high years. I don’t know if you kids, but the statement is very naive.

Coloma's avatar

I agree, removing privleges is optimum, but…this kid does need to be taken in hand obviously. ( No pun intended )

I see this behavior as manipulative and domineering on the kids behalf and if that was my child you better beleive he wouldn’t see the outside of his room for at least 2 weeks.

I would extend a harsh consequence and tell him if he was that unhappy with my parenting he was welcome to find himself a new home or take an extended leave with a relative.

I do not think a child should have that sort of power over when it comes modest discipline and the fact that he told such a whopper of a lie to boot, that tells me this kid needs some sort of attention and intervention for his atrocious behavior.

I do not advocate physical punishment unless, as was mentioned for a very young child in danger.


I diasagree. Parents can do everything ‘right’ and kids can still turn out troubled and/or go through diffecult phases.

That boy is being a bully and manipulating the parent, he needs to know that that behavior is not acceptable.

Blaming mommy for all ones woes is so passe. It is about taking responsability.

Aster's avatar

@Coloma Perfect! Kiss the goose!

missingbite's avatar

@Coloma GA. Sounds like you would be a great parent.

mrentropy's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr There’s a huge difference between child abuse and giving a kid a swift swat on the butt.

And I’m going to explain this badly and it’s going to sound worse than it is, but it’s not the act of spanking that’s a deterrent. It’s the fear that they’re going to get a spanking. It’s that fear that gets kids through childhood. Not just fear of spankings, but fear of burning their hand on a stove, fear of getting shocked playing with a plugged-in lamp. Humans feel fear for a very good reason.

These days kids don’t have to fear discipline. Take away the Xbox? They’ll get it back, eventually. Even if they have to steal it from you. If you raise a hand to them they can call the police or tell their teachers and then you’re the one in a lot of trouble.

@Aster You need to care. Anger breeds resentment. Resentment doesn’t help when it comes to having respect. The more anger, the more resentment, the less respect they have for you as a parent. The older they get, the less they’re going to care.

Denying a kid something, or taking it away, is a passive act. A passive act that lasts a while; long enough to brood over. If you don’t want to spank a kid then do something else that’s active so that when it’s done, it’s done. And if they start feeling like they want to be bad again they’ll think twice because they… don’t want to clean a siblings room, or do dishes, or wash the car. Whatever.

Of course, every kid is different so punishments need to be adjusted.

Ultimately, it’s not going to make a difference. Like I said, kids know that all they have to do is turn in their parents. Even for something fake. Read up on some CPS cases.

In summary: I’m not necessarily condoning spanking, as long as something else will work. It should be an active something rather than a passive something.

Erulin's avatar

Spanking a 12 year old ? That’s like breastfeeding a 6 year old…

Take away his stuff, computer access, TV, cellphone whatever… but spanking a 12 year old ?

CaptainHarley's avatar

Some of you responding to this question have obviously never had children. Having a child misbehave does NOT mean you have “failed as a parent.” That’s simply ridiculous. Spanking is often a convenient way for the parent to handle a problem quickly. Most children respond failrly well to being sat down and having the entire situation explained to them rationally. If they do not, then you should know your child well enough to understand what would be punishment for them ( such as taking away cellphone privileges ). As a last resort when injury to the child or others ( and sometimes damage to valuable property ) will result, a spanking could be in order. And the child should clearly understand that you are angry at him or her and why, and what the consequences will be for the child the next time this behavior is repeated.

I use to use what I called “The Rule of Three.”

1. The first time an unacceptable behavior appears, sit the child down and explain why the behavior is unacceptable, and that you expect the child to stop it.

2. The second time the behavior appears, explain to the child that this is the second time he or she has done something totally unacceptable, and that if it happens again, you will __________________ ( something you know the child will not like )!

3. If the same behavior appears a third time, what you promised would happen MUST happen or the child will eventually learn you can safely be ignored. Make certain the child understands why you are taking this action, and how they can prevent the same treatment being applied again.

The question YOU need to ask YOURSELF here is, “Who is the adult in this situation?”

Coloma's avatar

I was a great parent ( okay, not perfect, but who is? lol )

When my daughter was 15 ( she is 22 now ) she pulled this pathetic ‘woe is me’ stunt with a friend of mine.

I was late from work and a friend called, ( I was a stay at home mom til she was 11 and worked part time during her middle school/high school years.)

She told them that I was not home and that there was nothing to eat in the house!

I was FURIOUS! hahaha

My friend asked me about this and I explained ( and we had a good laugh over it ) that what that REALLY MEANT was there was no frozen pizza, bagel bites, hot pockets and the usual junk teens crave.

The fridge was full of food, leftover chicken breasts, salad, soups, grilled cheese, cereal…you name it!

The pathetic ” I am all alone with NO FOOD ” meant that she just didn’t want to get off her little behind and actually MAKE something! lol

You better believe we had quite the ‘talk’ about that little drama queen moment! haha

15 to 19 sucked…but we made it…we are very close! :-)

You know all this permissive B.S. started back in the 50’s and we are cranking out little narcissists like Wonder bread…it’s time parents stopped being afraid of discipline!

Aster's avatar

@mrentropy The punishment should fit the crime. Cleaning a room or washing the car? That sounds fit for a “shut up, mom.”
After meeting with the cops mom needs to bring in the heavy artillery. The taxpayers are on the hook for that scene, you know. Kids are Really getting hurt by mommy elsewhere. They needed the police.

jca's avatar

@ragingloli : to say she failed as a parent based upon this one incident is unduly harsh.

there are no perfect parents, and every episode has new challenges, new twists and new circumstances. furthermore, a parent could be loving, supportive and all that warm and fuzzy stuff and still turn out a child with emotional issues. This is why there are many books written on different parenting styles, and no one book is a gospel.

regarding spanking, i say don’t use spanking as a punishment because maybe at 12 you can punish him physically, but at 17 you will not have an effective means of punishment in place.

plethora's avatar

@Coloma @mrentropy You are sooo on target. This was a HUGE ‘in your face” to the parent. And age 12 is not the time to put a stop to that. It is age 2. I would be interested in the history of discipline in this household. Sounds like it was inconsistent in a way that the child has become convinced he can do whatever the Hell he wants to do.

Aster's avatar

Can middle school counselors help or would this need big bucks Ph.d assistance? I guess it would depend on the proficiency of the school counselor? Is it too late?
What would you tell the school counselor if anything if you were the mother involved? I am not her.

Coloma's avatar


Yes, absolutely…it all starts in toddlerhood.

Setting limits, consistency which is sooo important, whether that is discipline or just a basic regime that a child can count on.

Not unlike raising a puppy, if you don’t train the puppy when it’s small you are going to have big dog that is out of control.

I also use the animal kingdom as an example of discipline, and again, not advocating abuse of any kind, but….the mother cat swats her kittens to teach them to respect her, the horse nips her foal, the mama bear cuffs her cubs….mild physical reminders are not abusive.

mrentropy's avatar

@Aster That’s why I said every kid is different. The punishment should fit the crime. And if you get a “shut up, mom” then it’s time to step it up even more.

JLeslie's avatar

She hates to spank, but tried to spank him. Spank? Not slap him across the face, but turn him around and spank him on his tush? I dare her to spank that 12 year old ~ in two years he will probably turn around and beat the crap out of her. That sounds ridiculous. And, he said he was beaten to a pulp? This is not just pre-teen rebellion, there is more to it.

Aethelwine's avatar

@perspicacious Actually this is mild compared to what parents deal with during the junior high years.

This is mild? My sons are 16 and 18, and the worst they have done is say “I hate you” once or twice to us. Out of all of their friends, maybe one (if that) would pull something like this at that age. I must be lucky

Coloma's avatar


Boys are easier often, not always.

All of my friends with only sons except one, have had no real problems, but girls….girls are touchy creatures during their adolescence! lol

My daughter once had a fit because I missed a turn for a restaraunt she wanted to have lunch at. She was 17.

Had a complete meltdown and I put her out of the car.

Was very calm, told her I did not deserve her pissy mood to be taken out on me and told her to get out. lol

She had her cell phone and could call her dad or a friend.

Great lesson!

Yep, hows it feel to be left in a parking lot of a mall on a 104 degree day?

Oh she got it…was very apologetic the next day and we went on to have a good talk about how I would always listen and she could share whatever was bothering her, BUT…she could NOT take her moods out on me.

Tough love, and it works.

She now, at almost 23, thinks I am the best and coolest and m ost wise person ever.

To listen to her gush about me to her boyfriend is really quite the full circle indeed! :-)

perspicacious's avatar

@jonsblond You are, and so am I. But, if you talk to a pediatrician or junior high teacher they will tell you things that would make a barren woman happy. Also, from working in family court I could add to it the worst of the worst.

CMaz's avatar

If your child is “confused” enough to do that. It is too late to do anything.
They have discovered that they can manipulate you, instead of respect you.

THAT, is a sucky place to be in.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I’m not a parent, so please forgive me for jumping in here. As many of the parents on the post have said, there are a lot of things children do that are over-dramatized.

If I were the mother of this child, I’d be less concerned with the temper-tantrum than his calling an emergency hotline and causing people dedicated to helping people in real need to be side-tracked for something false. The mother could arrange to have her child listen in on some real emergency calls. They will willfully share stories about how they have had some ridiculous calls that tied up the lines while other people in desperate need were stuck on hold.

chyna's avatar

@jonsblond I don’t think you are lucky, I think it is a tribute to great parenting.

plethora's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer This kid is exhibiting 2yr old behavior. We expect “in your face” behavior from a 2yr old, at which time it gets knocked out of him one way or the other. At that age, perhaps very mildly, as long as it is consistent. At 12 yrs old, when the kid is openly manipulating his mother, there is little hope. A spanking will certainly not work. As @JLeslie says, in a couple of years, he will be beating her (or before then).

@Aster If it were me, I would consider the kids action in calling and lying to the police a MAJOR offense and pull in the professional. With every day that passes she is going to have a less receptive and more belligerent audience. I would not waste time on half measures. If there is no man in the house to help her make a united front with the kid, then it is even more serious. The kid needs to know that he has already crossed the line and its either cooperation with the mom and the pro, or some form of “hard labor”, whatever that means.

mammal's avatar

spanking is strictly for sexual purposes only, so, no spanking, but i would seriously take issue with this kid.

Pandora's avatar

I would take away every single priviledge he has. All his toys would be given to the salvation army. As for watching tv or talking on the phone or going out with friends, he can get those back when I feel he could be trusted.
911 is not something to mess with.

plethora's avatar

@Pandora Very good. I hadn’t thought about giving his stuff away. That makes it permanent.

The way you worded that brought to mind something I did when I was 15, and the way my dad handled it. I simply lied to him about something. It was a bald faced lie and he knew I was lying when I said it. So it was very “in his face”. But I stuck to my lie for about 4 hours. He took away everything i had and every right I had except breathing. Finally, after being up in my room alone for awhile, I became so ashamed and so convicted and so aware of the way I was hurting him (I loved my dad), that I came downstairs and confessed.

That was the night I learned first hand about forgiveness. I told him I was lying, which he already knew. Told him I was sorry (with tears I could not hold back). He put his arm around my shoulders, told me he loved me, wiped away all the punishment and told me to do the job right the next day. I was such a relief and I have remembered it all my life. It is, in fact, the way God treats us.

CaptainHarley's avatar


Great answer! Loved the story!

cazzie's avatar

I don’t see the point in ‘spanking’ a 12 year old. If you haven’t taught a child how to control their ‘angry words’ by the time they start school, it’s probably too late. Swearing doesn’t warrant a spanking. BUT what the kid did later shows signs that swearing is probably the least of this mother’s problems. Professional help. Sooner rather than later, for both the kid and for the mother. wow. At 12, a swear jar or some penance type of punishment seems more appropriate. It’s only going to teach him not to swear in front of his mother, though. He needs to learn that words become habit and if he doesn’t change the words he uses people aren’t going to listen to anything he says as he grows up.

Words matter, but we do need to have some way of expressing our anger, hurt and frustration. I teach my youngest son silly words to say instead. One he likes at the moment is Sassafrass! Legos fall down, I hear ‘Sassafrass’!

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Goodness, I’d feel pretty helpless except to speak my mind and say how disappointed and embarassed I am my child wants to act so crass, especially around me. I myself swear horribly but not around my parents and never would have at them, at least not where they could hear.

To me, 12yrs old is too old to spank/swat- only guilt, shame and peer pressure seem to be effective after 8yrs old.~

BratLady's avatar

If my 12 year old called 911, he would need it when they got there. A swat of the behind is not going to ruin their life. If you’re suggesting a belt then I have a problem with that. Any age child should know what is and is not allowed. 12 year old was trying what he has heard and seeing how you will react. I would take away something he enjoys, whether it be a game or watching TV. You can explain to him that taxpayers like you end up paying for unneeded 911 calls and if he makes them often he will be charged with false report. Kids are going to try to get away with as much as possible. You’re not a bad parent because your child isn’t like every other kid in the neighborhood. Parenting is harder than working 16 hour days. I’ve done both. And yes my boys got in fights and yelled they hated me; but they knew our rules. They’re both grown with children of their own and tell me I should have been stricter.

Erulin's avatar

Well to be frankfully honest, if your kid still doesn’t know that he shouldn’t call the cops on his parents by age 12 there something more going on…

Coloma's avatar

I wonder if the kid has any dead pets under his bed. lolol

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I gave this more thought because it’s so disturbing to me that some people’s kids have so little respect as to compromise their whole family. I think I’d look into a boarding school while making some changes to my ungrateful and untrustworthy child’s lifestyle. I’d also bring up the conversation to my kid’s teachers to be on the lookout for rebellion and the friends’ parents to keep an ear open around their own kids. I don’t believe one brat kid should hold their parents or other sibling’s security and reputation hostage.

Aster's avatar

no siblings; absent father, frequent moves.

Coloma's avatar


I was an only, no siblings, absent father and moved a lot, and had a really chaotic emotionally fragile mother.

I made up my mind at a young age as to what kind of person I wanted to be, and I fulfilled that.

I was never in trouble with the law, didn’t cause any trouble.

It’s the age old mystery, how one kid can rise above a less than upbringing and grow and thrive and become a solid human being and another who had everything, it seems, is a lifelong f-up! lol

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@Aster: That’s a lame excuse. I was an only child with an uninterested and pretty much absentee father obsessed with flipping house for much of my childhood. We moved 17 times in 11yrs but it never occured to me to screw over my family and chance getting myself dumped into the foster care system. That was a big fear of mine because I knew several foster kids, none of them secure much less happy.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I don’t think spanking a 12-year-old is going to change anything. It really seems to me that things should have been handled at younger ages. It’s really hard to undo 12 years of what the child is use to in the parenting department. I doubt this was the first time he has used the bad language. Each time a child does something we don’t want them to do, they need to be reminded that what they are doing is inappropriate. If it’s not handled at the time it’s done, the child is going to think that the behavior is okay. Perhaps this mom needs to look into enlightening her son to what he claimed (the abuse) by introducing him to some kids that have been through it. I know it sounds really harsh, but it’s going to get harder and harder as he gets older. Perhaps spending some time with children that were really beaten to that extent by their parents will teach him to appreciate what he has at home.

Having an absent parent is a poor excuse in my opinion. He still had his other parent and single parents are capable of raising a child with discipline (it may be harder and the other parent may need to put more effort into it for their child’s sake, but it is possible).

Aster's avatar

She is so out of it that she says he was just having “some hormone problems; he’ll be fine.”

Seaofclouds's avatar

@Aster And actions and beliefs like that are probably why he felt it was okay to call the police and lie to them about his mother in the first place. It really sounds like she is bringing it upon herself by only responding to some things and ignoring others. That’s really sad.

Erulin's avatar

If she tries to spank him in 2 – 3 years time she’s risking getting spanked back… If you have to use violence at age 12 to keep your kids in line, the problem is most likely “you” and the symptom “the kid”...

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