Ultima modifica 6 Novembre 2015
I don’t want to create confusion by trying to cover too many aspects of a complex issue in one short article, so I’m concentrating here on so-called “normal” families where there is very little direct interaction with police. By that I mean no reporting of domestic violence, no arresting of a family member in the presence of a child, no witnessing police brutality, nobody under house arrest and so on. Just everyday family life.
As those who have small children or who are child carers are well aware, our behaviour as parents or minders is constantly monitored and imitated by the little ones often without comment or the usual Why? They absorb our every word. So we need to be careful about our remarks, reactions and body language when we interact with or refer to the police in the presence of our children.
We all like to think that we instil in our sons and daughters the idea that, should they ever find themselves in a difficult situation, the police can be trusted to help them solve it. I sometimes wonder if this is the message we’re really sending them. Is our behaviour always coherent with what the child is being taught, for example, about citizenship at school?
I’d like to outline a few situations and hope that we can all honestly say “I’d never do that.”
“Mummy, shouldn’t I have my seat-belt on?”
“It’s ok, dear, we’re only going as far as the supermarket. We won’t meet the police.”
“Daddyy, this is a 30 km zone. You’re going too fast. The teacher said it’s important to observe the rules of the road. ”
“It’s ok. There aren’t any speed detectors around here.”
“One last glass and let’s hope they don’t breathalyse me on the way home.”
“What does that mean Grandad?”
“Nothing, just that the police are very strict on moderate drinkers. They should be going after the real criminals and leave people alone.”
“Mummy, you shouldn’t have the dog on the seat beside you while you’re driving.”
“ No problem, love, I know how to talk to the nice policeman if he stops us.”
“Daddy, why did Granny say that, if I go outside the gate, the policeman hiding behind the wall will take me?”
“Granny was just joking, darling. “
“Oh! Really..Mummy said Granny is very silly,”
“Did she then?”
“You know something, if you don’t eat up all your food in five minutes, I’ll call the big bad policeman and he’ll eat it and then he’ll take away all your toys.”
“Daddy I love when you walk me to school but shouldn’t we cross the road at the traffic lights?”
“You’re with me and it’s ok to cross here. There’s no traffic warden around.”
“If you boys don’t stop punching each other I’ll get that policeman over there to give you both a right good punching .”
“Auntie Sue, why did you tell that policeman a lie? We’re not going to the football field up the road.”
“I know but I couldn’t tell him we’re going all the way to town with four kids in the back seat. I could lose my licence you know.”
“Daddy, I’m glad you’re the good cop.”
“I’m not a cop. I’m a mechanic.”
“Well, Mummy said that when it comes to scolding us kids you always get to be the good cop and she always has to be the bad cop.”
“I think she sometimes wants to be the bad cop.”
As I said, the kids are watching us, listening to us and learning from us even when they seem to be engrossed in something else. It’s important to remember that.