Could you turn your kid in to the police?
Our colleage Richard Martin's article today examines how parents react on their worst day: When they find out their child has committed a crime.
Martin writes: The mother of 16-year-old Nicholas Lemmon Lindsey faced that decision on Tuesday as the net of police seeking an officer's killer tightened around her son. Deneen Sweat told her son to "man up and tell them what happened."
Urging the child to confess "is the only right act," said Dr. Peter Gorski, a child welfare expert with the Children's Board of Hillsborough County and a professor of pediatrics, public health and psychiatry at the University of South Florida. "Both to serve the child and protect the community."
But we've also had some famous local examples of parents who rushed to their child's side and held off the police as long as possible. The parents Jennifer Porter, the 28-year-old Land O'Lakes elementary school teacher who fled the scene of a 2004 hit-and-run crash after striking four young siblings, killing two. The Porters helped her hide the car and clean it up. Porter eventually pleaded guilty but avoided jail time.
In 2009, 16-year-old Jordan Valdez of Tampa struck a homeless woman with her SUV, then left the woman for dead. Valdez's parents hired a lawyer and avoided detectives' questions. Later, Valdez pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident with death and was sentenced to probation.
These are very dramatic cases, but what about smaller crimes and misdemeanors? If you found drugs in your child's room, would you turn them into the police? How do you strike that balance of loving support but dealing with consequences.
One of my favorite lines, borrowed from my own parents and passed on to my kids, is "We all make mistakes. Making the mistake isn't the real issue. It's how you make up for the mistake you made that is your true character."
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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PHOTO: Deneen Sweat, mother of 16-year-old Nicholas Lemmon Lindsey, Photo by Cherie Diez | Times
PHOTO: Suspect Nicholas LIndsey sits in the back of a patrol car on his way to the Pinellas Juvenile Detention Center.
Photo by Chris Zuppa | St. Petersburg Times.