When do you call the police?


New Member
After reading I'm Broken Hearted without Him's post on having to make that awful call to the police on difficult child, it got me thinking ... at what point do you call?

My difficult child is just newly 6. He occassionally lashes out physically - mostly against his brother - and will, when raging, lash out at me. I can tell that he is trying to restrain himself and it is getting more controlled as the years pass. But where/what is the threshold between what I would consider childish immaturity and real aggression/assault? How can you tell? Is it an age thing? Is it a "now I'm really hurt" thing? Or is there just something that you intrinsically feel has changed with difficult child - that you just detect "the shift" with them? I'm just wondering for future reference.

Any thoughts?


New Member
For me Wildflower, it's one of those things that you know it when you see it. I would never call the police on my 6 year old as they are not even at the age of reason and I would not want to scare them into not liking the police or get them immune to the possibility that they may some day have to answer for their actions. On the other hand, an older teen that is physically violent simply cannot be allowed to continue.

My difficult child is eleven and I would not call the police on her unless her aggression got so bad that someone else was in serious harms way. But I think I would know when that threshold was crossed. I believe it is one of thsoe things that each parent, each family, has to consider for themselves in light of their child and the level of aggression that he/she is exhibiting. A heartbreaking and difficult decision for sure.



New Member
Wildflower, this is something I thought long and hard about because it never occured to me to call the police, when difficult child was being threatening.
I have no experience with police coming to my home so I found the thought of it very intimidating. Today, I would get over my intimidation.

I really believe that all parents with children who have behavior problems need to have thought this out and have a plan for violent outbursts. What are you going to do? What are you comfortable with? How will this be handled?
It is no surprise that children with mental illness,dev. delay or emotional disability do not belong in juvie. So where would their needs be served when they are in a rage or unstable?
Too many times there is no plan in place for parents to fall back on when there is this sort of upheaval. They react in the heat of the moment. Very often it isn't a positive intervention.

In my mind, there is instability that requires hospitalization and medication. No amount of time or support or discipline is going to fix this-
So if a parent senses their child is starting to spiral down, doesn't it make sense to intervene before it escalates to violence? Call the dr., tweek the medications, adjust the school schedule etc. If necessary plan to have someone help you take them to the hospital when they become violent.

If this is a child who is functioning but has explosive rage,when told no,he/she becomes threatening and destructive, then there has to be a different plan. The hospital will probably not keep this child who isn't a danger to himself.
This is where you need a different plan to avoid juvie if possible.
How to descalate the situation, without giving in and letting the child have control? How to protect yourself,your home,your children and the raging child before there is damage?
I would definitely, have a plan. Trying to isolate the child in his safe room before it escalates too far, is always the first step. Not engaging in a verbal battle is the next. I would try to have a back up person who would be available to help deal with a raging child,should I be alone.
The police would be the last step.

I didn't call the police when difficult child was 13 because I really didn't think to do it. (duh!) Looking back, I probably should have but we did get through but I knew I wasn't living with the threat of violence. I made a plan and followed through. It required him going to boarding school but none of us had to live with the violence and he learned to control himself.

It is a difficult to figure out what parts of our child's dysfunction we can tolerate and what you can't. Some people can't live with their children doing drugs and alcohol. I can't live with violence or even the intimidation that the threat of violence brings. If I didn't want the police to be called I had to have another plan but I wasn't living with that sort of behavior.

Hope this helps you think,in advance what you plan to do when it happens.
Most of our kids will have outbursts of violence in their hormonal years, so it makes sense to plan for that sort of violence. Seems silly to be surprised.


New Member
You know, having kids like this is a lot of work! I know, I know, duh!?!

But it is such a paradigm shift in thinking. First, you have this child that you cherish and have such high hopes for. You think that raising this little person is going to be somewhat like your own experience as a child: playing outdoors, having little playmates, going to school, going to the doctors once a year for the exam, going to birthday parties, going on holidays with your family, sibling squabbles … etc. Then reality hits and you to move from the “what I thought life would be” into the “problem zone.” You think that this is only temporary – most parents venture into the problem zone now and again (right?) – then you realize that you actually have a permanent parking spot here. It is really hard to come to terms with.

After reading Fran and Nancy’s responses, I got sad/depressed. I know that I need to plan for the future. I know that this future is going to be different from my own path that my parents trod with me. I’ve come to terms with that (mostly). And I am grateful that this site exists because it can help to provide the new road map. But gee whiz, it is depressing to think that my plan for my child should involve a police escalation. Hopefully, it will never come to that – but I just wish that like my parents before me, that I didn’t even need to consider this. Reality bites. I like Denial a lot better!


New Member
I'm with you,Wildflower. I want to have the luxury of burying my head in the sand and denying that there is a problem.
Many parents did that in the past and do it today.
Reality bites.

Having been there done that....

When mine was about 9 we started having aggression problems. Mostly towards his brothers. But some physical on the house and car. It was like the horseplay had taken on a new dimension with his brothers. I made it clear to him that this was not acceptable and took him through 9 months of psychotherapy. It got better and the aggression become less. The "anger management" sort of psychotherapy stuff worked for him. He was also sent away to sleep away dyslexia camp for 6 weeks at age 10. His first time away from home. So my threats about not letting him live in my house when he was violent took on a new meaning. He understood that I would go through with summer camp threats so I might go through with boarding school threats. And he didn't like being away from home. (At the time he was not having problems in school though he acted out at camp). That resolved the violence for us. Even today, he can maintain himself in the hospital. Now if I pushed his buttons like the cops did the night they took him in I could clearly get him to explode. But without someone directly attempting to push his buttons he's got control. medications help also by reducing the buttons. So my kid can control this and he didn't start until about age 9. I think the kids who start much younger have a harder time stopping.

So in my humble opinion you should get started on treatment for it long before it becomes a question of whether or not to call the police. And some kids can get control.

But if someone is in physical danger there is no question that the police need to be called.


New Member
My son was always very verbal - but not physical. When he was at the height of his drugging, there was one night when he became "pushy" to the point he scared me. I got my easy child out of bed, and drove with my daughter to my mom's to spend the night. husband stayed at home with difficult child - with every intention of calling the police if he became violent.

Violence is something I will not tolerate. I've had to tolerate many things raising my son, but at some point - for safety of yourself, your difficult child and your other children - you have to draw the line.

I agree that in most instances, you need to seek medical help - whether it be a phone-in medication change, a psychiatrist visit, an emergency therapy session, or even a trip to the ER or psychiatric hospital.

Once your child hits the teen years, he will be too big to physically handle. At some point, you may have to make a decision on what is necessary.

In my son's case - his drugging and ultimate stealing of our car on different occasions warranted our calling the police. It's not something I ever thought I'd be doing in a million years - reporting my own child to the police to be picked up - but it became a necessary action.

I agree that having a plan in place "if" something happens is a good thing. You need to know what to do, and where to go - "if" necessary.

Yep - reality bites!

Hang in there -

As someone who has called the police - I'm not proud that I had to resort to this, but when the violence gets out of hand and property and people are in danger - that's where I draw the line. My son didn't get the police called on him until he was 15 - had a knife, punched holes in our walls and threatened to kill himself and then of course left the house. He knows if he crosses that line ever again - the police will be called.

It sounds like you are describing a completely different scenario - no I wouldn't call the police on someone as young as your son.

Marci Lyn

New Member
My son is seven and I had the police come out in the beginning of the year. He was on a downward spiral for the week, and didnt go half a day without at least one rage. And I mean full blown rage, uncontrollable rage. After they start to rage on a regular basis, you realize what works, you know how to contain them, and restrain them for that matter. When it comes to the point that you can no longer do those things, or can no longer handle him emotionally, you know its time to call,When all the things that have worked for weeks or even months are failing, its time to call. Its a hard thing to do, but I knew I had to. And once you have called, have him transported to the ER and if you believe it is really bad, which you must if you called, then insist on his admittance. When I called, and he was transported to the ER, he had punched out 2 windows in his room and the living room, yet they still sent us home after they saw he had calmed down. The next day it was worse, I didnt think it could get any worse, he threw a very heavy stool through his door, over his head. When a 7 year old can do that, he is much to powerful for me to even approach. Email me if you ever need to talk. I have certainly been there.


New Member
For your future reference as you requested, a policeman told me to call them whenever I thought my child was an immediate threat to himself or to us. He said we should call them if we felt their threat was real and could be carried out.

For instance, one time Melissa was holding scissors up with the points towards me, but she was across the dining room table. I had called the policeman the next day to ask about the incident, and he said if I felt she was going to follow through with stabbing me, I should call 911. He added, "Only you know your child and what they're capable of."

When we had Melissa in short-term inpatient in a mental health hospital, we were sent home with a contract that said if she was verbally or physically abusive, we were to call the police. I didn't agree with the verbally part, but that is what the social worker made us sign.

Well, not long after we were home, Melissa was yelling the "F" word at me and kicked me and hit my hand with the phone. I ordinarily would not have called the police, but due to my contract I called 911. She was nowhere near as bad as sometimes and here I had called the police. I felt kind of dumb. But you know what? I didn't have to call the police on her again after that.

Now.....with a 6-yr-old boy, you will have to make up your mind if you feel he is a real threat to himself or you. Or if you want to try to shake him up, you might want to consider calling the police. (totally up to you!)

I know the policeman that came to our house said I shouldn't hesitate to call again--that they didn't mind one bit. Oh--he had asked if I wanted to fill out a report or press charges, and I just said no and that was the end of it.


The Leslie

New Member
aw geez I called the police so many times on ant, I lost count. but I didnt do it til he was bigger than me and I could no longer restrain him. (I havent ahd to do it for a long time!) so..maybe mr. ant got the message. I wouldnt call the cops on a 6 yr old.

I also have not called the police, but have been tempted to do so. However, what I did instead was talk to my son's counselor and he gave me detailed steps on what process I should go through if I felt in danger. One of the steps (in Seattle) was to call our Children's Response Line (a part of Seattle Mental Health) and they will send out two mental health counselors to de-escalate a situation. I also got the process to call an ambulance to have my son transported to the best children's psychiatric hospital unit in town.

Just for the future, you might want to check on which hospitals in your area accept young children, what the process is, and just have that in your back pocket. At the age of six, I'd prefer the hospital route to the police.


New Member
Although I have never had to use it, my plan is to call 911 and have an ambulance take difficult child to the hospital in the event that he is a danger to himself or others.

At the first sign of mounting violence I call psychiatrist and get difficult child's medications adjusted. I believe this has prevented a hospitalization so far. I also realize that I've been lucky and difficult child may need hospitalization at some future point so I am ready.

Fran/moderators, May I suggest you add this thread to the archives. It has a lot of great info.


I'd like to add that there are many things you can do to de-escalate a situation yourself before it gets out of hand. For my difficult child, it is distraction. He can be raging one minute, I ignore him and put on a video (it helps to have one he hasn't seen around or one of your family during happier times) and he will stop and immediately start watching the video. He will grumble about it but be way too distracted to continue his meltdown. I've used this several times. Another way we've distracted him is to suggest that we do something: hey, want to go bowling? Or, "hey, will you show me some of your new Yugio cards?" It really does work for our difficult child. You might want to try a few things to see if you can stop/deflect the rage.

It's always better to get in there and stop it before it starts. Usually, I can see my son is irritated before he rages. Calming him down/distracting him is easier at that point then after he has started screaming.
It has taken me years to figure out what he needs, and it's not always successful, but it is worth trying.

Originally posted by Wildflower:

But it is such a paradigm shift in thinking. First, you have this child that you cherish and have such high hopes for. You think that raising this little person is going to be somewhat like your own experience as a child: playing outdoors, having little playmates, going to school, going to the doctors once a year for the exam, going to birthday parties, going on holidays with your family, sibling squabbles … etc. Then reality hits and you to move from the “what I thought life would be” into the “problem zone.” You think that this is only temporary – most parents venture into the problem zone now and again (right?) – then you realize that you actually have a permanent parking spot here. It is really hard to come to terms with.

I think that is probably one of the best descriptions I've seen for what it's like to raise my son. It made me cry to read it but I am soooooooo thankful that I am not alone in feeling it. Good luck with your son.

Marci Lyn

New Member
Janet, etal, I never thought I would call the police on Chris at such a young age either, but he was out of my control, his control, and when the police got here, barely in their control. And it got Chris the help he needed. I didn't use that as a way to get help on purpose, but it did help. I had no other choice, and I would hate for this mom to feel helpless, and hopeless and then decide not to call the police because of his age. Even the youngest of kids are capable of anything. I have heard of stories of 5 year olds being so enraged that they have tried to kill their parents with Knives, and in the process indeed injuried them. As horrible as a thought it is, these little guys and gals need help now, and we all need to be safe.


New Member
Christine, I am in agreement with you. Parents have to know when their child is beyond their ability to help them. Each of us should call regardless of age,if this child is a danger to themselves or others.
We have had parents who have shared that their 5yr old attempted to jump from windows or tried other ways to commit suicide. By all means, if your child is a danger to himself or others,no matter what the age, call for help, scream for help just get it. :eek:


New Member
There is a problem- in dealing with non-teenagers - when we see calling the police not because there is a massive safety
issue but as a consequence to really bad behaviour. When we are inexperienced and overwhelmed ,the behaviour modification techniques which your parents used on you are not working ( today they can get you into big trouble ) at a complete loss of what to do,the kid is raging, the neighbours think you are abusing the kid, we think that a visit from the police or even the threat will do the trick. And this backfires on us . The way the social serices and the police read the situation means that you - the abused parents besides being called lousy parents will be accused of child abuse. Before you call the police make sure you have your protective helmet - you are already dealing with the problem , receiving parenting councelling, have a diagnosis or an assessment from a social worker on your child
and most important an assessment on you the parents from a therapist, socail worker etc that vouches that you are not a threat to your children and fine dedicated parents.
Parents' experiences with the police have been mixed. Where police understand who is being abused and support the parents there have been positive results. Unfortunately many parents have become subject to police interogation , arrested and being accused of abusing their children . The cpswatch.com helps these parents. Calling the police is a last resort , be forewarned and wear your protective helmet. I pray that we all never have to resort to calling the police
Yours Allan

Marci Lyn

New Member
I don't know how it is in Isreal, or even other states in the US for that matter, but my state, my town police, are great. They have been really good, shocked at my son many times, but understanding once they see him in action. You could always call the police from a pay phone and ask about what ifs, if you are worried about it. Or ask a social worker at the station or something. You can always talk to a juvinielle detective also, they are usually the ones trying to reform these kids before it is too late.