Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Glurge: List of 12 rules for raising delinquent children.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, May 2007]
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 DelinquentThe 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
After making a study of juvenile delinquency, the police department of Houston, Texas, issued a leaflet containing
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.
Boy's Pitiful Growth and FallAs 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
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!"
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
In 2008 we heard from a fellow who'd worked for the Houston Police in its Juvenile Division for more than
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
This material may not be reproduced without permission.
snopes and the snopes.com logo are registered service marks of snopes.com.