Roman: Parents, don’t tell your kids I’m going to take them away


“See the police? He’s going to take you away if you don’t listen.”

This is a statement we, as officers, have all heard at one time or another when parents try to scare their children into listening to them. I’ve heard it said in restaurants, in stores and on neighborhood streets while on calls for service.

Now, the statement, “See the police? He’s going to take you away if you’re bad,” is correct if you’re committing a crime. If you’re stealing something, assaulting someone or driving drunk, then yes, the police are going to take you away.

But why tell that to a child?

As a kid, I never saw the police as people who were going to take me away if I didn’t listen. That was what my mom’s wooden spoon was for. That’s also what a spanking from my dad’s right hand were for. I didn’t have to worry about the cops. I had to worry about my parents.

If I acted up, there were consequences. It was simple. We had rules to follow and if you didn’t follow them then you knew what to expect. Listening, following the rules and respect were instilled in us at an early age. My parents didn’t have to point at a cop and threaten they were going to take us away. They just had to give me the evil eye and I knew I should listen.

So, rather than tell your kids the cops are going to take them away for being bad, try telling them you’re going to punish them for their actions and follow through on it. It’s OK to be the boss in your house.

When I was growing up I sure knew who the boss was in my house.

Remember, officers can’t fix the problem when a parent didn’t do their job 10 or 15 years ago.

Editor’s Note: John Roman is a traffic officer for an Orange County police agency who writes a blog, Badge 415 ( His posts focus on the human side of police work and safety tips. Roman, a cop for more thsn 20 years, has handled more than 5,000 accidents as a collision investigator. shares some of his columns.