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Home --> Glurge Gallery --> 12 Rules for Raising Delinquent Children

12 Rules for Raising Delinquent Children

Glurge:   List of 12 rules for raising delinquent children.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, May 2007]

TWELVE RULES FOR RAISING DELINQUENT CHILDREN

DOWN IN HOUSTON, TEXAS, the police department has issued a leaflet entitled "Twelve Rules for Raising Delinquent Children." Here they are, as printed in the local Chamber of Commerce publication, "Business";

1. Begin with infancy to give the child everything he wants. In this way he will grow up to believe the world owes him a living.

2. When he picks up bad words, laugh at him. This will make him think he's cute. It will also encourage him to pick up "cuter phrases" that will blow off the top of your head later.

3. Never give him any spiritual training. Wait until he is 21, and then let him "decide for himself."

4. Avoid the use of the word "wrong." It may develop a guilt complex. This will condition him to believe later, when he is arrested for stealing a car, that society is against him and he is being persecuted.

5. Pick up everything he leaves lying around - books, shoes, clothes. Do everything for him so that he will be experienced in throwing all responsibility on others.

6. Let him read any printed matter he can get his hands on. Be careful that the silverware and drinking glasses are sterilized, but don't worry about his mind feasting on garbage.

7. Quarrel frequently in the presence of your children. In this way they will not be too shocked when the home is broken up later.

8. Give the child all the spending money he wants. Never let him earn his. Why should he have things as tough as you did?

9. Satisfy his every craving for food, drink, and comfort. See that every sensual desire is gratified. Denial may lead to harmful frustration.

10. Take his part against neighbors, teachers, policemen. They are all prejudiced against your child.

11. When he gets into real trouble, apologize to yourself by saying, "I never could do anything with him!"

12. Prepare yourself for a life of grief. You'll surely have it.

Origins:   While the "Twelve Rules for Raising Delinquent Children" list reproduced above has been part of the online world since at least 1998, the original is a fair bit older. So far, our earliest print sighting of this piece dates to 1959, when it appeared in a newspaper:

The Best Way to Raise a Delinquent

After making a study of juvenile delinquency, the police department of Houston, Texas, issued a leaflet containing 12 rules on "How to Raise a Juvenile Delinquent." They are:

1. Begin with infancy to give the child everything he wants. In this way he will grow up to believe the world owes him a living.

2, When he picks up bad words, laugh at him. This will make him think he's cute.

3. Never give him any spiritual training. Wait until he is 21 and then let him decide for himself.

4. Avoid the use of the word "wrong". It may develop in the child a "guilt complex." This will prepare him to believe that when he is punished later for stealing cars or assaulting women, society is "against him" and that he is being persecuted.

5. Pick up everything after him: his shoes, his books, his clothes. Do everything for him so that he will be experienced in throwing his responsibilities on others.

6. Let him read anything he wants. Have no concern whatever for what goes into his mind. Be careful that the silver and drinking glasses are sterilized, but let his mind feast on garbage.

7. Quarrel frequently in the presence of your child. Then he will not be shocked if the home is broken up later.

8. Give a child all the spending money he wants; never let him earn his own. Why should he have things as tough as you had them?

9. Satisfy his every craving for food, drink and comfort. See that every sensual desire is gratified. Denial may lead to harmful frustration.

10. Take his part against policemen, teachers, and neighbors. They are all prejudiced against your child.

11. When he gets into real trouble, apologize for yourself by saying, "I never could do anything with him."

12. Prepare for a life of grief. You will be likely to have it.
The 1979 Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations, which houses an abridged version of the list, contains other entries that beat the same drum about what parents should and should not do to make sure their kids turn out all right, such as these two (the first of which is attributed to C. Roy Angell):
Boy's Pitiful Growth and Fall

A church bulletin that recently came to my desk tells a modern fable. "Once there was a little boy. When he was three weeks old his parents turned him over to a baby-sitter. When he was two they dressed him up like a cowboy and gave him a gun. When he was three everybody said "How cute!" as he went about lisping a beer commercial jingle. When he was six his father dropped him off at Sunday School. When he was eight they bought him a BB gun and taught him to shoot sparrows. He learned to shoot windshields himself.

When he was ten he spent his afternoons at the drugstore newsstand reading comic books. His mother wasn't home and his father was busy. When he was thirteen, he told his parents other boys stayed out as late as they wanted to, so they said he could, too. It was easier that way. When he was fourteen they gave him a deadly two-ton machine, wrangled a license for him to drive it and told him to 'be careful.' When he was fifteen, the police called his home one night and said, "We have your boy. He's in trouble." Screamed the father, "It can't be MY boy!" But ... it was.
 

I Reared a Criminal

In the August, 1960, issue of the Ladies' Home Journal is an article entitled, "I Reared a Criminal." It is the true story of a heartbroken mother. We quote:

We loved him, but —

His father was too busy to be with him when he was young.

I couldn't bring myself to punish him for misbehavior.

We sided against his teachers when they complained about his work (and conduct) in school.

As he grew up he would hardly discuss the time of day with us.

He was expelled from school.

We gave him money so he wouldn't steal again.

I wept when the police called and I had to turn my boy over to them ... As I watched them search him my life seemed to end.
As to whether the Houston Police Department produced and circulated the "How to Raise Delinquent Children" list, it's unlikely anyone now working there could answer that question with a definitive yea or nay since print sightings of the item date back
50 years.

In 2008 we heard from a fellow who'd worked for the Houston Police in its Juvenile Division for more than 25 years who had the responsibility for handling the occasional requests from people across the U.S. and Canada looking for information about the item. According to him, the department was never able to determine who had written the piece, whether it was one of its own or if the list had come from somewhere else with the "Houston Police Department" attribution added by that unknown author as a way of cloaking the work with law enforcement's mantle of authority. One theory ascribes authorship to Capt. Robert Horton, the Juvenile Division's first commander when that division was created in 1948, but since Capt. Horton is no longer alive, the question cannot now be put to him, nor is his family able to settle the question.

The Houston Police Department did eventually decided to provide the list on request to those who asked for it, but with a disclaimer explaining that the author of this text was unknown, and that the rules were being provided as a public service without endorsement by that branch of law enforcement.

Barbara "Houston, we have a problem child" Mikkelson

Last updated:   16 October 2009

Urban Legends Reference Pages © 1995-2014 by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson.
This material may not be reproduced without permission.
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  Sources Sources:
    Landers, Ann.   "Here Are Dozen Rules For Raising Delinquents."
    The Hartford Courant.   9 April 1977   (p. 26).

    Sarlin, Edward.   "The People's Forum: The Best Way to Raise a Delinquent."
    The Hartford Courant.   30 September 1959   (p. 18).

    Swindoll, Charles.   The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart.
    Nashville, TN: Word Publishing, 1998.   ISBN 0-8499-1351-9   (p. 153).

    Tan, Paul Lee.   Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations.
    Rockville, MD: Assurance Publishers, 1979.   ISBN 0-88469-100-4   (pp. 695-696).