Would you turn in your kid if you saw them on surveillance video on TV?

UPDATE as of Oct. 28, 2013 – From an updated AJC story:

A woman who identified herself as Shondra Carter told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution during a phone call Sunday that she did not turn her son in to the police.

“In fact, I had not even seen the news before that time,” she said in a follow-up email.

“Dorian called me to let me know what was being said and wanted to turn himself in and that’s just what he did. I only called the GSU police to let them know he was coming and I drove him to the station.”

When reached for comment, Mullis said he had not spoken with Carter and had no other information to add to her account.

With the prevalence of surveillance cameras, it’s no surprise that parents and friends are seeing people they know on TV suspected of crimes. So the question is what would you do? Would you turn in your child or friend to the police?

On Thursday, a mother recognized her son in surveillance video of the recent Georgia State University robbery and took him in to GSU police around 6 a.m., according to Georgia State University police.

Here’s the story from the AJC:

“All three suspects in the armed robbery of four Georgia State University students at a campus dorm are in custody, school officials said Thursday morning.

“GSU police Deputy Chief Carlton Mullis identified the suspects as Quinton Arnold, 18, Dantevious Devall Patrick, 18, and Dorian Demetrius Stroud, 19.

“Arnold is a current GSU student, and Stroud is a former GSU student last enrolled in the fall of 2012. Patrick has no affiliation with GSU, according to school spokeswoman Andrea Jones….

“Mullis said that one of the victims recognized Arnold, who lives in Piedmont North, another university housing complex. That victim texted Arnold and asked him to meet him outside on Piedmont Avenue. “He did, and we arrested him,” Mullis said.

“Police later released a photo of the suspects from security video. Patrick “saw himself on the video and called Atlanta police and turned himself in and APD turned him over to us,” according to Mullis.

“He said Stroud’s mother recognized her son from the video photo “and she brought him in to GSU police about 6 a.m.”

“All three were booked into the Fulton County Jail, charged with armed robbery, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, aggravated assault and burglary.”

This story made me think of a couple of other similar cases:

1. The Boston bombing suspect: University friends of the youngest Boston bombing suspect allegedly saw his photo on TV and thought that he looked similar to their friend but did NOT call the cops and instead texted with the young man.

From CNN’s timeline of the Boston Marathon bombing:

“Phillipos tells Kadyrbayev to put the news on when he gets home, because one of the Marathon bombing suspects looks familiar.”

“Kadyrbayev later turns on the TV and notices one of the suspects resembles Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, according to an FBI affidavit. Kadyrbayev’s lawyer, Robert Stahl, later disputes that assertion — saying his client didn’t immediately recognize Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as a possible bombing suspect and did not know that his friend allegedly was involved in the attack, saying “his first inkling came much later.”

“Kadyrbayev texts Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to tell him he looks like one of the bombing suspects. His friend’s response includes “LOL” — Internet slang meaning laughing or laugh out loud — and other things Kadyrbayev said he interprets as jokes like, “You better not text me” and “Come to my room and take whatever you want.”

2. Remember the Atlanta mother who pleaded guilty to helping cover up evidence that her daughter was the hit-and run driver in an accident on Easter Sunday 2009.

From the AJC:

“Her mother, Sheila Michael, pleaded guilty on Oct. 15 to helping with the cover-up.

“Adams showed the least mercy to the mother: she sentenced Sheila Michael to the maximum eight years in prison for failing to turn her daughter in to police — more than even prosecutors had recommended.

“The judge said she had “scoured the recesses of my soul” to imagine a scenario where she would “abandon right” to protect her own son.

“I have not found one thing yet,” the judge said. She told Sheila Michael, who was an elementary school teacher with a master’s degree in business when the crash happened, that when she conspired in the “selfish” cover up, she “inflicted more pain on families that already had experienced the most pain imaginable.”

“What kind of mother, asked Adams, could have watched repeated news reports about the missing hit and run driver without coming forward. “When she needed you to be her mother, you failed her,” Adams said. She noted that Aimee Michael even sought to turn herself in, but her mother discouraged her.

“You discouraged her from doing so because you did not want to lose her,” Adams said.

3. Then there was the case of the Colorado mom who called 911 and told them her son admitted to killing the 10-year-old girl Jessica Ridgeway.

From KDVR.com:

“GOLDEN, Colo. — Jessica Ridgeway’s suspected murderer got on the telephone and told police he killed the 10-year-old girl. The call to 911 was played during his preliminary hearing Friday.

“I murdered Jessica Ridgeway,” Sigg says during the phone call. “I have proof that I did it and I’ll answer all the questions that you want.”

“He then told police that he hid parts of her body in the crawl space of his mother’s house. The information came when his mother called 911 to turn her teenage son in to authorities.

“In a calm voice she said, “My son admitted to murdering Jessica Ridgeway and attacking the jogger at Ketner Reservoir,” Mindy Sigg told Westminster police. “He has human remains in the crawl space of my house.”

4 And finally there’s the recent case of parents in Connecticut calling the police on their daughters for throwing a party with underage drinkers.

From The AJC:

“A Connecticut couple had their two teenage daughters arrested last weekend when they returned home from vacation to find a teenage drinking party underway, WFSB 3 Connecticut reports.

“The couple called police to their Glastonbury home Sunday, Oct. 13, and they arrested the girls, ages 15 and 16, for permitting a minor to possess alcohol.

“The busted party was the third in a series the girls’ hosted while their parents were away, each with 15 to 20 people in attendance, Connecticut Now reported.

“The names of the minors are not being released.

“Their parents weren’t due to return until Monday, so the girls “tried to get another one going” Sunday night, Agent James Kennedy of the Glastonbury Police told the Fox affiliate.

“When the couple returned home early Sunday night, some of the party guests attempted to flee, Kennedy said. The girls were inside the house when police arrived. Kennedy called the parents’ action “the right thing to do,” Connecticut Now reported.”

So what do you think: If you saw your child in a surveillance video on TV would you turn them in to police? Would you turn them in if you caught them doing something illegal? Would you turn them in if you found evidence of them doing something illegal?

44 comments Add your comment


October 24th, 2013
8:39 pm

I would hate to do it but I would.


October 24th, 2013
8:50 pm

That is a tough one, but if your kid were that kid, and you weren’t the main reason he turned out that way, then yes. Unfortunately in this day and time, there are no rules, no matter who you are and where you came from. My parents would have turned me in, most parents today would not.

usually lurking

October 24th, 2013
9:25 pm

“Illegal” is a broad brush, and these are not yes or no questions. It depends on the situation. I do not like the trend toward criminalizing stupid teenage behavior, especially that of youths of color and/or lower social-economic class. To answer the questions about turning my child in – here are a few scenarios, assuming first offense. Repeat offense, all bets are off. If I found empty beer cans hidden in the basement after a sleepover – no, but I’d have a serious chat with the yutes and their parents. If the yute walked into the house staggering drunk after somehow managing to drive home without incident – no, but I would take away the car keys and consider substance abuse counseling. If I found stolen property in the house – might try to work it out with the owners first, but if unsuccessful, yes, after first engaging an attorney. Surveillance video related to a felony – most definitely yes, after first engaging an attorney.

Bob in Sandy Springs

October 24th, 2013
9:34 pm

Armed Robbery???

I’d turn them in a NY second. I just wonder how 18 or 19 yr olds can illegally obtain a handgun.


October 24th, 2013
10:01 pm

My mother would have whooped my tail then take me down to the police station.
I guess that why I have never been in trouble with the law.

K Askew

October 24th, 2013
10:06 pm


October 24th, 2013
10:29 pm

Absolutely! But, nothing even close this has ever happened in our family….and never will. We….mom and I, always took an active role in making sure our children understood Right from Wrong!


October 24th, 2013
10:35 pm

By the way….It is not ” a tough One” or “these are not yes or no questions” ! Do the right thing…period!


October 24th, 2013
10:42 pm

That must have been tough but hopefully it will head off an even worse future! But, the problem remains, no one should go into Atlanta unless they have to work there; otherwise, it should be fenced off as a concentrated area of social and cultural nightmares!


October 24th, 2013
11:07 pm

Once again, what we have here is African Americans preying on society. Nearly everytime there is a crime it is this group – thugs – preying or stealing from others


October 24th, 2013
11:17 pm

If people were smart they would get out of Atlanta. The thug black community has taken over


October 24th, 2013
11:29 pm

@Stephanieatl: Obviously you have no sense whatsoever. Read the cases and look up the info and you will find that the Colorado case was committed by a caucasian. This article has nothing to do with race but whether you would do the right thing. In answer to the central question, yes, I would turn my child in if he or she committed a crime and I became aware of it. Fortunately I make it a point to be involved in my kids’ lives and have taught them right from wrong!


October 24th, 2013
11:31 pm

@Butch: Read my comment to Stephanieatl. Unfortunately the two of you are exactly alike: ignorant!


October 25th, 2013
1:22 am

When I was 15, I was “serial shoplifting” with friends. Until I was about 25 years old, I believed that I had been caught on surveilance video. But actually it was my mom who turned me in. She figured it out due to all of the new clothes that she knew I couldn’t pay for. She had no idea whether or not they would press charges or not, but chose to turn me in anyway. I respect her for that. I remember thinking my dad was going to explode. He was a coal miner for 40 years and I understood that he wasn’t sitting in some air conditioned office all day. It was hard physical labor and I could see that in the wrinkles of his hands and face. Mom made me tell him. He did not explode. Instead, he welled up with tears and told me how hard he works to provide for us. He asked me what I “had to have” that was worth stealing for. I WANTED him to scream and throw things or even hit me. But he didn’t do any of that. I felt horrible and never, ever did it again.

They turned me in… and I would like to think that I am brave enough and love my kids enough to do the same for them if they go down that path.


October 25th, 2013
1:40 am

Refusing to turn them in is called “loving them to death.”


October 25th, 2013
1:41 am

It is my sincere hope that they build up a new prison on these three young men.


October 25th, 2013
1:44 am


You are the idiot. Don’t you notice by now..that we are awash is fear, because of young black criminals?

I am black. But I don’t have to represent. You are unable to speak the truth, because that takes guts.


October 25th, 2013
4:14 am

This topic actually has been very difficult for me personally because the murder committed by that 14 year-old teenager in Mass. was too close for comfort. See, I have a very nice son that is known for being extremely nice and respectable. He’s kinda tall and sort of even looks like the kid. If you profiled him, he would be the last person to ever harm anyone, ever!

I thought we were doing a good job raising my sons, but I bet you that the killer’s parents thought so too. And when I see him in that courtroom, I gotta change the channel because I can see how incredibly scared he was. The reason why I know is because he acts like my son when he’s scared!

Would I turn him in? Yes, but I would secure the best lawyer I can find first. And I may want to spend some time with him, just to touch him and be with him for the last time.


October 25th, 2013
5:23 am

Quite likely, yes, I would.

Peg Mulligan

October 25th, 2013
5:53 am

This is a difficult question as there is a risk that a child taken into police custody would be exposed to harm from others while in jail. Better to prevent this situation by teaching ‘truth and consequences’ from an early age on.
In hindsight, those 2 teen sisters ages 15 and 16 should NEVER have been left alone after not one but 2 prior instances of illegal behavior. But how far back did their lack of accountability go?
So far there is no mention of prior criminal acts by the 3 GSU suspects. But even if this was a 1st time event, armed robbery is so serious that yes, I HOPE that I would have the courage to turn in my child or sibling.
I said “I HOPE” because this is a difficult thing to do that requires courage.
I read a definition of the word HERO once as someone who acts against natural, reflective human instinct to do the greater good. For example: running into, not away from a fire to rescue those in danger.
When I think of the UnaBomber I don’t remember the sketch of Ted in his hoodie. Rather I remember the sad but determined face of his brother, David Kaczynski who had the courage and honor to act against the ‘protect your own family’ instinct to do the right thing for the greater good.
Even in cases where parents are finally forced to turn their kids in NOW because they dropped the ball back THEN but especially in cases where the family recognizes a mental illness or defect that must be handled by the police, I see COURAGE I hope I could match.

When parents and family turn to Law Enforcement acting against their natural instinct to protect their family members at the expense of others, kids, I see people of honor and courage and feel the word HERO would not be misused in describing their actions.

Who let the dogs in

October 25th, 2013
6:36 am

If I saw video of my son entering a woman’s restroom I would.


October 25th, 2013
6:42 am

Yes, I would turn in my child for armed robbery.


October 25th, 2013
6:44 am

Growing up my father told my sister and myself that if we got into trouble with the law he would “take care of it” once and only once. If we were stupid enough to break the law again we were on our own. Neither of us has ever been in trouble beyond a traffic ticket every ten years or so.

My husband and I have tried to raise our children with morals and consideration for others. We have a teenager that calls if she thinks she might be 5 minutes late for curfew and a younger son that isn’t a teenager. I feel the same way as my dad, because I know my children understand right from wrong if they did something stupid I would turn them in and get them the best legal help available once. If they stupidly committed another crime they would be on their own.


October 25th, 2013
6:44 am

Hard to do. Yes I would have to do it, as it is the right thing to do.

I do not expect to be put in this position as my daughter has never even had a speeding ticket and my son would be risking his career and licensing forever.

I do know that everything is possible. I think the parent has to look at it from the victim or the parents of the victim’s side…what if THAT were your child?

I recently caught a glimpse of a movie where a child’s hand was going to be cut off for doing something wrong ( I believe stealing) and another intervened. We have come a long way from cutting off a hand to wondering if we could turn our children in. HMMM.

Road Scholar

October 25th, 2013
7:56 am

Reading a few posts above, I didn’t know that there was no crime OTP! That the fine upstanding inhabitants would not steal, drink underage, or commit crimes of violence such as bullying, robbery, rape etc. All the criminals must come from ITP! Shocking!

What a pompous, unintelligent response!

I do not have kids, but I would address the issue at home if it were minor. Robbery, assault…crimes of violence…yes I would turn them in, work for an out of court settlement which may include at least an overnight stay in jail…just to try to scare them “straight”. My mom could say a few words like the coal miner father that would melt me when I acted up…that is the best way..address it intelligently. Yelling only makes noise! Content is more important.


October 25th, 2013
9:32 am

I wouldn’t turn him in.

I’d make sure he turned himself in. It’s that simple: when you do something stupid you own up to it. He’s learning that rule now so that it comes easier when he gets old enough for it to matter.

And if he wasn’t man enough to own up to his stupidity, then I’d go ahead and turn him in after getting him counsel.


October 25th, 2013
9:33 am

Reading a few posts above, I didn’t know that there was no crime OTP!

Oh, they’ll tell you there IS crime, but it’s all caused by “them” coming in on MARTA. The “stupid” hasn’t fallen far from their parents.

Sure would

October 25th, 2013
9:43 am

I look it at this way; if your kids are out robbing and clowing then something was not done right at home to teach them better! I would turn them in, in a heartbeat; and then take responsibility for not teaching them better by holding myself accountable as a parent!

Mrs. Butterworth

October 25th, 2013
10:17 am

Wow – really elongated cut and paste today Theresa! At least you gave it some thought rather than most of your poor blogs. Its still cut and paste, honey.


October 25th, 2013
10:55 am

How could anyone justify NOT turning in their child for armed robbery?


October 25th, 2013
11:07 am

It’s always easier to turn someone in when they are easily identifiable in the picture. I hope I never had to make any kind of decision like this.


October 25th, 2013
11:25 am

It is a tough call, If I recognized my child and they had never been in trouble before, I would not want to ruin their life by adding a police arrest. If I had a child that had previously gotten in trouble. I would turn them in to stop them from further crimes.

It is not as simple as it sounds. you love your children and you want to protect them, even if it means turning a blind eye sometimes. The crime also has bearing on the response. Murder then definitely, vandalism then maybe there is another way to make restitution without turning in your child.

Wow, Road Scholar and ByteMe...

October 25th, 2013
11:55 am

…I really do not see much in the way of the early posts constituting anything close to saying that all crime is ITP – yes, one person suggested “getting out of Atlanta”, and I took that to mean the entire Atlanta area, which includes OTP..

Quit trying so hard to see the forest for the trees – not everything is about U…


October 25th, 2013
12:13 pm

No. I’d also help them hide a murder weapon or bleach a room to do away with DNA evidence.

KoolAid House

October 25th, 2013
12:17 pm

It would break my heart, but I would have to do it. I’ve always told my child there are consequences to every action. If you want to act like a knucklehead, then be willing to deal with the end results. I also informed my child that I don’t like the furniture in prison so I will not be visiting!!!

KoolAid House

October 25th, 2013
12:22 pm

“Once again, what we have here is African Americans preying on society. Nearly everytime there is a crime it is this group – thugs – preying or stealing from others.

That is one boldfaced lie!!!! Seems like each race has their own particular crimes they like to commit. White folk murder their loved ones, black folk have black on black crime, white folk and black folk both commit robberries on and off campus. Whitle children are going around shooting up schools. It’s not one particular race. Both races are committing some incredibly asinine crimes!!!

KoolAid House

October 25th, 2013
12:26 pm

Jerome – loving your 11:31

KoolAid House

October 25th, 2013
12:30 pm

“It is my sincere hope that they build up a new prison on these three young men”

You people are plain STUPID! There will forever be a problem with race in America….FOREVER!

Fred Giarrusso

October 25th, 2013
1:06 pm

The quality of this blog continues to implode…. Theresa use to write about her own family with funny stories – Michael even wrote a post once…. that is gone. The annoying Mother Jane Goose still resides here with her 1950’s thinking and a Size 12… Theresa is just milking this job until the daily hits get so low they can her. Google search – cut – paste – wrinkle cream – dirty mini van.. take out dinner, lots of clutter and unorganized life with desert rats in Arizona. Luckily she married Michael who pulls in a very good living.


October 25th, 2013
3:28 pm

Fred… Hahafnha…that’s perfect !


October 26th, 2013
1:11 pm

I would like to say of course I would, but I’m not sure I could do it. Maybe I’m not that strong.


October 26th, 2013
6:35 pm

Sense I dont have no dredlock wearin thug kids who lissen to rap music it aint nuttin I have 2 wory about.

Jordan Inagaki

October 26th, 2013
8:50 pm

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I have a comment

October 27th, 2013
12:38 pm

this has becoming a very boring column