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teaching boys the realities of the police

post #1 of 71
Thread Starter 
my son is 3 and loves police, everything about them from the uniform to the cars and sirens. he also loves firefighters in the same way, which is fine with us because they really do help people without question. but dh has a very negitive view of law enforcement, as do i, for good reasons of course. he is spanish and cherokee and has been the victim of racial profiling and unprovoked police brutality all his life. i am caucasian and have also been the victim of racial profiling (stopped for being in the "wrong neighborhood" when in fact i live in said neighborhood). so how do we teach our sons the truth about the police, especially for a young man who looks hispanic/latino or really any race that is not white? we live in a city where hispanic/latino is the majority but the city is run by the white minority, the same city dh grew up in and constantly delt with racisim/discrimination both from whites and people of his own race. granted dh is not a typical hispanic/latino male, infact he is a rastafarian so that has not made it easier due to an obviously "different" appearance, but that does not imply that he is lawless or a criminal. i am just looking for some advice/support in addressing the issue of the realities of police with a young boy who admires them so much.
post #2 of 71
I don't have much time to post, but just wanted to give you my initial reaction:

He's three. Just let him play. Are you concerned that he is going to grow up and become a police officer if you don't step in and tell him your views? Is it harmful for him to think that the police are the good guys? (and most of them ARE in the job to do good.)

I hope that doesn't come off as harsh, I certainly don't intend it to be. I just don't see the harm in letting a three year old enjoy the simplicity of "good guys" while he's young.
post #3 of 71
Thread Starter 
i understand the "let him play and have fun while he's young" idea but for us all police interaction we have ever had has been negitive. the police have never been "the good guys". we don't lie or misinform our children about anything, why should we allow him to believe that poilce are always "good". i know that idealy police good, they take an oath to protect and serve right. but what happens to the young boy who looks at the police in this positive way growing up and then one day as an older boy/young man he is the victim police discrimination/brutality based on his race and the fact that he is male or he whitnesses his father become the victim of such an act? i think he would have a really negative reaction, all thoses years spent thinking police were the good guys and all of the sudden they aren't. like i said we won't lie or misinform our children about anything, not fictional characters like santa clause or the tooth fairy and not actual people like police either. i just am looking for a way to educate him on the facts without being too harsh, but i guess the realities are harsh.
post #4 of 71
I think that those discussions will be better off left to when he is a little older...

For now, he is probably drawn to the lights and sirens and flashy badges and cool uniforms etc... not the daily tasks and the other details that go along with the profession.

As he grows older, the fascination will most likely fade, but he will also be able to understand the things that you are talking about.
post #5 of 71
What happens if he gets lost or hurt and runs and hides from the police or firemen because he is now afraid of everyone in an authority position in uniform???

If this discussion must be had.. I think it is best to wait til your child is older.
post #6 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by anomaly13 View Post
i think he would have a really negative reaction, all thoses years spent thinking police were the good guys and all of the sudden they aren't. like i said we won't lie or misinform our children about anything, not fictional characters like santa clause or the tooth fairy and not actual people like police either. i just am looking for a way to educate him on the facts without being too harsh, but i guess the realities are harsh.
Bolding mine.

So are you prepared to have this conversation about teachers, clergy, and even the firemen that you do consider the good guys? The reality is there is discrimination, abuse of power, and corruption in every occupation.

I just don't see what you have to gain by making your son fearful of police at 3 yo?
post #7 of 71
Thread Starter 
i don't want to put fear into my son at this age, nor any age but there are things to fear at some point. i do see the negitive effects of this topic/disscusion at such a young age, if were only me i would wait, but dh is involved in raising our son and he seems to jump to negative reactions about the police specifically when brought up by our son. i guess i need to have a conversation with dh rather then ds. so then how do i go about that? we have similar views on authority i guess our differences are how to address the subject with our son.
post #8 of 71
Mama, I understand where you are coming from.

The sad truth is that the world is a much less friendly place for boys, young men, and adult men of color.

I think at age three there isn't a whole lot that can be said that won't be really confusing and disturbing for your son. But as he gets older, I am SURE (sadly) that there will be experiences/moments that you can use to help your son understand that people in authority can be racist, cruel and wrong. (Without saying that ALL law enforcement/authority figures are that way!)

I hope other people chime in with tips for you on how to minimize your kid's risk of being mistreated should he come in contact with law enforcement. My son is your son's age, so I don't have any experience, yet!

As for your husband, remind him that there will be plenty of time and opportunities to discuss these problems within the context of an experience you all share or hear about. It doesn't have to be *right this minute*.
post #9 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marylizah View Post

The sad truth is that the world is a much less friendly place for boys, young men, and adult men of color.
By the world you mean the United States?, because the world is bigger than that.
post #10 of 71
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marylizah View Post
Mama, I understand where you are coming from.

The sad truth is that the world is a much less friendly place for boys, young men, and adult men of color.

I think at age three there isn't a whole lot that can be said that won't be really confusing and disturbing for your son. But as he gets older, I am SURE (sadly) that there will be experiences/moments that you can use to help your son understand that people in authority can be racist, cruel and wrong. (Without saying that ALL law enforcement/authority figures are that way!)

I hope other people chime in with tips for you on how to minimize your kid's risk of being mistreated should he come in contact with law enforcement. My son is your son's age, so I don't have any experience, yet!

As for your husband, remind him that there will be plenty of time and opportunities to discuss these problems within the context of an experience you all share or hear about. It doesn't have to be *right this minute*.
thanks you so much for responding i was begining to think that no one else on mdc saw/experienced these problems. feeling wrong for wanting to address these issues within my family, i really appritiate it. i agree to wait and take it slow, one step at a time. for dh he was always told of such evils in the world but never saw them first hand within his community, his parents kept them sheltered from experiencing a lot of things while at the same time disscussing them, when he was 12 all at once things started to happen to him and his family and he was shocked. even though he had heard of these things happening he was not prepared to deal with them first hand, but then how can anyone be prepared for evil in the wrold without first experiencing it.
post #11 of 71
This is one that I struggle with too, now that I live in a country that has a bad reputation for a corrupt police force, especially when dealing with caucasians (I guess it's the opposite of what you're dealing with). Some of the police here are great, and are literally putting their lives on the line everyday for very little pay, but others are very corrupt. Add to that that police get ambushed here, and you really don't want to be standing in public with them, AND the fact that we live between two countries with two very different police forces and, well, I just don't know how to handle it all.
post #12 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marylizah View Post
As for your husband, remind him that there will be plenty of time and opportunities to discuss these problems within the context of an experience you all share or hear about. It doesn't have to be *right this minute*.
Exactly...

you can also make it clear that you are not putting your opinions aside forever, or need to change your opinions but that is would be better to wait until he is ready to understand. At 3 he is too young and it will most likely confuse and scare him more than do any good...
In a few short years you will be able to explain to him things in context... you may read an article and can then share your opinion and talk about it together... answering questions, bringing up past experience etc... At 3 you will be talking to him more than talking with him... he won't be able to ask as many questions and understand the answers as much..

Just to add... I have to admit that for a long time I had the same opinions because it was what I knew and had experienced with the "culture" I was brought up in... then a few years ago I met my best friend and her DH is RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police)... Last year we went on Vacation and spent 2 weeks in her home. Though my experiences are still vivid in my past, I know that it is not everyone in the profession that is like that.

I would that I would have been very sad if I would have shared my opinions with my children at the ages they were and would have risked them being scared of an amazing father and person that he is. My oldest son is now 7 and we have talked about Police brutality when we have heard the news etc... and he is now starting at an age that he can make the separation between choices of an individual and the whole of the group.
post #13 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by TropicalGirl View Post
By the world you mean the United States?, because the world is bigger than that.
Um, thanks. Yes, I mean the world. I don't live in the United States.

ETA: I guess you mean in some parts of the world life isn't harder for men/boys of color, and I'm sure that's true in some places.

I'm thinking of: the US, Canada, Western Europe, Eastern Europe. To start.

And in some countries, there are degrees, where the darker your skin is the less well you are treated (I'm thinking parts of India, China, Middle East...). So in general, I think the world is pretty unfriendly towards men of color.
post #14 of 71
I just wanted to chime in as another voice that affirms the concerns of you and your dh about the police!

Even as a light skinned Native woman I have been harassed by the police, my mother has been mistreated by the police in her own home.

The reality of communities of the color in the U.S. and Canada is that the police ARE NOT OUR FRIENDS. And it is especially harsh reality for men of color so if your ds is perceived as such then mama, you are right to worry!

I don't have much concrete advice to offer unfortunately...but now I think I want to have some conversations of a lot of mothers I know and ask them how they approach this.

But I just want you to know that even if this wasn't the experience of many of the women using these discussion boards, it is the experience that I have had, my dh and his family have had, my friends and colleagues all over the U.S. and Canada have had.

So as a woman raising a man of color you are not crazy to be concerned.

Sorry if this is a bit of a rant...I was a bit frustrated by the lack of affirmation you received since I completely understand where you are coming from and deal with that harsh reality every day!

Much love to you, and if I get some more concrete suggestions from the parents I know, I will pass it along!
post #15 of 71
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by shinaabikwe View Post
I just wanted to chime in as another voice that affirms the concerns of you and your dh about the police!

Even as a light skinned Native woman I have been harassed by the police, my mother has been mistreated by the police in her own home.

The reality of communities of the color in the U.S. and Canada is that the police ARE NOT OUR FRIENDS. And it is especially harsh reality for men of color so if your ds is perceived as such then mama, you are right to worry!

I don't have much concrete advice to offer unfortunately...but now I think I want to have some conversations of a lot of mothers I know and ask them how they approach this.

But I just want you to know that even if this wasn't the experience of many of the women using these discussion boards, it is the experience that I have had, my dh and his family have had, my friends and colleagues all over the U.S. and Canada have had.

So as a woman raising a man of color you are not crazy to be concerned.

Sorry if this is a bit of a rant...I was a bit frustrated by the lack of affirmation you received since I completely understand where you are coming from and deal with that harsh reality every day!

Much love to you, and if I get some more concrete suggestions from the parents I know, I will pass it along!

give thanks for your support, it's much appritiated.

someone mentioned knowing a police officer personaly and finding him to be a nice man. well i have an uncle and a brother in law who are both police, while they are both nice men to me and my family on a personal level i have never delt with them as police. i am not sure that if they didn't know us personaly they would be so nice if we met under circumstances where they were on duty, kwim? just because they are nice off duty, or on for that matter, to family/friends does not make them righteous police officers.
post #16 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by anomaly13 View Post
give thanks for your support, it's much appritiated.

someone mentioned knowing a police officer personaly and finding him to be a nice man. well i have an uncle and a brother in law who are both police, while they are both nice men to me and my family on a personal level i have never delt with them as police. i am not sure that if they didn't know us personaly they would be so nice if we met under circumstances where they were on duty, kwim? just because they are nice off duty, or on for that matter, to family/friends does not make them righteous police officers.
That was me... and that wasn't my point.

My point was if I would have talked to my children when they were younger about certain things that police can do that I don't agree with, and how bad police brutality can be, that they may not have been able to separate the two. (the police man and the individual) and because I know that this person is a good and just man, it would have saddened me if they were scared of him because just because he choose to provide for his family by becoming a police officer.

Now that my oldest child is getting to the point that he can see the difference, I have no qualms in bringing things up in context and telling him my opinion. Some things are just better when brought up at an appropriate age if you want to get the real point across...
post #17 of 71
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxye View Post
That was me... and that wasn't my point.

My point was if I would have talked to my children when they were younger about certain things that police can do that I don't agree with, and how bad police brutality can be, that they may not have been able to separate the two. (the police man and the individual) and because I know that this person is a good and just man, it would have saddened me if they were scared of him because just because he choose to provide for his family by becoming a police officer.

Now that my oldest child is getting to the point that he can see the difference, I have no qualms in bringing things up in context and telling him my opinion. Some things are just better when brought up at an appropriate age if you want to get the real point across...

i see what you mean, apologies for missing you point initially.
post #18 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by anomaly13 View Post
i don't want to put fear into my son at this age, nor any age but there are things to fear at some point. i do see the negitive effects of this topic/disscusion at such a young age, if were only me i would wait, but dh is involved in raising our son and he seems to jump to negative reactions about the police specifically when brought up by our son. i guess i need to have a conversation with dh rather then ds. so then how do i go about that? we have similar views on authority i guess our differences are how to address the subject with our son.
oh, mama! you are not alone. you and i are of the same mindset. i cannot pretend that the ugliness does not happen. it doesn't do them anny justice to sugarcoat the world. i was recently reminded of this when i talked with my 4-year-old dd about why we are brown and the reality of slavery in the US. i gave it to her in a way that she could understand and appreciate. i think there was nothing worse as a kid to be taught one thing and later discover the contradictions (i.e. christopher columbus discovered america, slavery only lasted 2 paragraphs in my high school history book, which is drastically different than the length of time it lasted). just my :
post #19 of 71
The people I know in that kind of situation, generally wait until about kindergarten-age to talk about police misconduct and bias. I guess the idea is that when children are younger than that, the possibility of their encountering a police situation when their parents or other caregivers aren't around to help, is pretty remote. So there's no reason to scare them when they are too young to do much about it anyhow.
post #20 of 71
This topic actually has been big for us right now, DH is currently facing a misdemeanor charge, with the possibility of jail time (though highly unlikely,) for basically running a red light. I do not feel this is a case of racial profiling (nor does DH) especially since one of the officers was the same race as DH.

What happened was that when DH got pulled over, instead of apologizing for running the light and accepting his ticket he started making excuses and pissed the cops off. When talking to him about why he would piss the police off so much, part of what I realized was that it had a lot to do with how he views police. Also, he almost certainly would not have run the red light in the first place if he had not been completely distracted by the presence of the police car.

DH grew up as a minority in the Bronx during the 1970s and 80s, he views police as out to get him, he is very afraid of them in general. When he interacts with them he is very nervous which comes across as looking guilty. I've been there when BIL lied to the police (and it was obvious since DH gave a very different version of the story) and it really pissed the cops off, and they went from being reluctant to arrest DH, to being pretty eager to.

Basically what I'm saying is that the attitude of being afraid of the police leads one to interact in a manner that can lead to more trouble. While there are police officer who are blatantly racist, they are not the majority (though this varies by where you are.) Teaching you child to deal with police in a basically respectful, but cautious manner will serve them better in life than fear.

Some of this stuff is really is generally good advice for anyone, like when being pulled over by a police officer drive to a well lit public area, it's safer for everyone including the officer.

You do realize that if more parents of minority children encouraged their DC to become police, that the police force would have more minority officers on it. Hopefully by the time your DS is around 13 yo and this becomes a more immediate issue, the police force in your town will be more diverse.
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