A woman who had enough of her 9-year-old nephew's bad behavior went to law enforcement after discovering he lied about stealing her wallet.
She decided to teach him a lesson by calling the police.
Redditor "throwaway-wallet" said her sister would often leave her disobedient son at her doorstep at a moment's notice.
On this particular occasion, the boy—referred to as "J" in the thread—stole his auntie's wallet and refused to hand it over when confronted.
The original poster (OP) was at her wits end and decided to let the police deal with the misbehaving child. When they arrived, the boy was handcuffed.
The OP's AITA (Am I the A**hole) subReddit post infuriated Redditors.
The day began like any other typical day when the sister needed a break from parenting.
"My sister has a 9 year old son, who I will call J. He has a terrible attitude, and my sister has a very bad habit of dropping J off at my doorstep for me to babysit him without any notice whatsoever."
"She did this again this weekend, probably because she was going out with her friends."
"I heard the doorbell ring, and by the time I got to the door, J was standing there and my sister drove away. So I let him in."
"After a while, I noticed that the wallet that was sitting by the bedside table was missing. I asked J if he knew where it went, to which he smugly replied 'You can't prove that I stole the wallet!,' which means he obviously stole it."
"I told him that he needs to hand it over immediately, and he continued to be smug about it."
"So I called my sister and told her to come pick him up. She refused, and said that I need to deal with him myself."
"I have had many prior incidents with J, so this was my last straw."
"I told him that if he doesn't hand it over, I will call the police. He thought I was kidding, so I just went ahead and called them."
"He apparently still believed that I was kidding even after I called them, because he only started freaking out when the cops pulled into the driveway."
"At this point, J was sobbing uncontrollably. He handed over my wallet, and started begging me for forgiveness."
"I told him that he'll have to wait for the cops to come in."
"When the cops came in, I explained the situation to them. I told them that he stole my wallet which I got back, and that his mom needs to come pick him up and that she refuses to do so."
"I asked them to take J until his mom comes, so they handcuffed him, put him in the back seat of the cop car, and called my sister to come pick him up."
"They were very gentle with him, and he was not hurt."
"About 20 minutes later, my sister showed up. She started crying and screaming at me, and was acting so erratically that the cops had to tell her to behave herself and threatened to arrest her."
"Eventually, my sister took J and drove home."
"She cried to all of our family members about it, and I have been receiving many angry messages from them. I have gone NC with my sister, and thankfully I don't think she'll be dropping J off at my house any longer.
"I feel that I was justified because I never agreed to babysit J, my sister refused to pick him up, and there was nothing I could do apart from putting my hands on him and digging through his pockets, which I won't do."
Some criticized the OP for using law enforcement to deal with her sister and nephew.
Redditor "gatitamonster" said that everyone, except the nine-year-old, sucked—including the police officer who thought it necessary to handcuff the child.
"Holy sh*t. If you had called the police with the expectation that they would track down your sister after she abandoned her son on your doorstep, that would be one thing."
"Calling the police should be reserved for issues of public safety—not the wallet your misbehaving and clearly neglected nephew is acting out with."
"You called the police because you wanted them to terrify a f'king nine year old."
"That was a cowardly, mean spirited, senseless thing to do. Using the police to scare children doesn't work— it has the opposite effect when they end up not actually doing anything."
The police really suck for handcuffing him. Your sister sucks for obvious reasons."
"The only one who doesn't suck is a nine year old child who is being failed in every possible way by every single adult in this narrative."
"gatitamonster" added that while the child did not deserve the horrible punishment, they noticed that a proper discipline was lacking in the household.
"I don't call children a**holes when they are in conflict with full grown adults. He's acting out because no one has taught him how to behave."
"He needs intervention, not name calling or blame."
"This child clearly hasn't had any home training. He won't know how to stop his negative behaviors until he's learned pro-social ones to replace them with. That's basic behavior modification."
"It's the parents who have failed to teach him how to behave who bear the responsibility for that, not a child who has no control over his life."
"I'm not arguing this and I won't respond to comments trashing a child. If you feel the need to do that, you should go vent your spleen to someone else."
Not everyone agreed, however.
This Redditor believed the OP was NTA (Not the A**hole) and that it was important to deal with the child's delinquent behavior at an early age.
"This is what the kid needed! Children need to realize that their actions have consequences."
"As OP said, they were very gentle, and the child was not harmed, but the memory and the fear of being arrested for stealing will stick with him."
"I will guarantee the officers would have come out, just for the fact that nipping this behavior now, and with extreme prejudice may keep this kid from become a more serious larcenist in the future."
"This type of behavior has to be crushed quickly. If I find out my daughter is stealing at that age i will call the officers myself for assistance in teaching this lesson."
"OPs sister is a raging idiot for allowing this type of sh*t from her kid. in her place I'd be screaming so loud at my child they'd be on the floor crying without needing speakerphone. OP is NTA here." – LordDragonus
The unpopular opinion was met with swift opposition.
"The police do not exist to parent a 9 year old kid or be a proxy between sisters. Your attitude is frightening."
"Police do not prefer to stop 9 year old from petty garbage. The idea that a misbehaving 9 year old would lead to a life of crime is also unexamined."
"The police are not a parenting resource, full stop." – jerkface1026
"Police don't exist to teach lessons. That's what parents are supposed to do."
"Traumatizing a kid is not teaching a lesson, because it doesn't replace negative behaviors with positive ones."
"This 60's attitude of parenting needs to stop." – this_makes_no_sense
"And assuming she did call that non emergency number, the handcuffs may not have been her idea."
"She just wanted her stuff back. It's like if cops are called for a domestic disturbance usually the man or more powerful person is arrested regardless." – illini02
When a user suggested the OP should have called a non-emergency line, even that option was disagreeable.
"The non-emergency line is for noise complaints, when your car's been broken into, and other non-emergency situations that require police intervention."
"It's not for terrorizing misbehaving children." – strawflour
"I am very aware of the non emergency line. She should have used that to ask for help tracking down her sister."
"Not because she can't get her wallet back from a child who is in her home. That's still not an issue of public safety." – gatitamonster
Users were convinced that the boy's neglectful mother was setting a poor example.
"I wonder if the kid is mimicking his mom. He could have seen his mother steal and then say 'you can't prove I stole the wallet.'"
"I wouldn't be surprised. The police showing up will teach him that him or his mother stealing is not ok. NTA." – Sumrborne
"Yeah, I think a mother who won't pick up her own child is a public safety issue."
"What if she left for days? You can't literally throw your child at someone's doorstep and expect the police to not get involved at one point. This was a harsh stop to a horrible habit of hers but it was needed." – Alicex13
Police handcuffing children has become increasingly controversial, with some as young as a six-year-old in Florida getting arrested and zip-tied for acting out in class back in September.
After many similar incidents, police officers in Washington D.C. announced a new policy guideline in January.
The new departmental policy effective immediately stipulated that D.C. officers will now be prohibited from handcuffing juveniles 12-years of age and under.
Police Chief Peter Newsham told The Washington Post that officers will have discretion to handcuff a juvenile between the ages of 13 - 17, depending on the severity of their crime and whether they are a danger to themselves or to others.
Whether the OP's nephew learned his lesson remains to be seen, but at least their sister will have to find a new doorstep to abandon him on.