Parents Arrested for Scaring Daughter

Julie Ryan Evans

handcuffsIf we're to believe Annette Gerhardt and her fiancé, Gerardo Santiago, they were arrested and charged with child endangerment just for trying to get their 6-year-old daughter to behave. There was no violence, no screaming, just a trip to the police station that went horribly wrong.

The Staten Island couple says that after exhausting every other discipline method to get little Enayla to comply with school rules, they decided to try to scare her straight. After a similar visit had worked for a friend, they took their daughter to the local police station for a little behavior modification.

"They pulled her kid aside and said, 'This is where bad girls and boys go,'" Gerhardt told the New York Daily News. "That's what I was looking for."

She got something much different.

She says she asked an officer to "play along" and tried to explain what she was trying to do. Instead, the officer went off on her.

"She told me that I was an unfit mother," Gerhardt said. "I sat there with tears in my eyes."

After that, she and Santiago, who was out waiting in the car, were arrested.

Really?! Fear may not be the best parenting tool, but to call it child endangerment seems pretty extreme. Haven't most of us at least insinuated to our children that the police will get them if they don't behave?

Police say they believed she was trying to abandon the girl and say she was serious when she said she couldn't handle her anymore. An officer told the Staten Island Advance:

She was serious about dropping her off. She did not wink or nod, and the officers weren't in on her "joke." Certainly, this is not a joke.

If that's true, it's certainly a different story, but still it sounds like a case of mixed messages. Couldn't they at least give her the benefit of the doubt? It's not like she was trying to leave her on a street corner. As her attorney, Matthew Blum, told the paper:

It's really just a misunderstanding that police blew out of proportion. She was trying to scare her daughter straight. Her mistake was not contacting police before doing this.

I wonder what police would have said if she had?

Do you think this couple's extreme approach to discipline is criminal? Do you ever try to scare your children straight?

Image via notsogoodphotography/Flickr

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