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Topic : 07/04 Runaways Gone Wild

Number of Replies: 146
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Created on : Friday, March 23, 2007, 10:09:33 am
Author : DrPhilBoard1
(Original Air Date: 3/28/07) Imagine waking up at dawn to discover your 9-year-old child missing. The next day police call saying they’ve found your son -- but he’s halfway across the country at the San Antonio airport! This is only one of the waking nightmares single mother Sakinah has faced. Her son, Semaj, stole three cars and ran away nine times in just five weeks. He's charged with three felonies, including auto theft, attempting to elude a police officer on a high-speed chase, and driving without a valid driver's license. What is behind this traveling tween’s cross-country misadventures? Then, Amy's 16-year-old daughter, Tiffany, has run away several times, but this time her mother says she has gotten involved in a prostitution ring. The concerned mom discovered her daughter's behavior the way a lot of people find used furniture or apartments to rent: on Craigslist! See how the teen used this community Web site to advertise her services. But did she act alone? Find out why Amy fears for her daughter's life and the lives of her other children. Plus, learn what Dr. Phil has to say when he sits down for a heart-to-heart with Amy’s two younger daughters, and then talk about the show here.

Find out what happened on the show.

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March 28, 2007, 3:46 pm CDT

Don't give tough

I am raising a teenage granddaughter, who was the most pleasant, respectful, cheerful, loving , cooperative child.  I always said we would never have a problem with her, as she was mature beyond her years, and soooo sensible. Very close to Grandpa, and her mom, who has some issues, but loves her dearly.


I am a young, college educated grandmother, and a child of the 60's, so I am not clueless as to what is going on in today's world.  Been there, done that.


I began to suspect that something was up, at age 14, she was the same, but something was going on, I had suspicions, but no proof.  Finally I found out for sure that she had been smoking weed, and drinking with adults in the neighborhood.  I confronted them, called the police, but they could do nothing without proof.  I put the adults on notice that I would deal with them.


It all went downhill from there.  The sneaking out at night, I called the police a thousand times, in addition to spending the night out looking.  She came home high, threatening suicide, I had her hospitalized four times.  I took advantage of every program, never missed one.  Put a motion detector on her bedroom window (she did not know it was there).


I confronted the drug dealers in the neighborhood, and supplied the local police department with names and addresses.  I stood nose to nose with a girl who wanted to beat my "old ass". I told her to go for it if she thought she could.  She didn't. Thank goodness. My husband was terrified that I would be hurt, but I find bravado goes a long way.


If a car stopped out front, I was out there, chasing them away.  I have a reputation in the neighborhood as J's Crazy Grandma.  Love it.  I found her and two friends with pills in the back yard, high as a kite.  I called the cops, had them all arrested.  Worst day of my life, but necessary. It also give you access to more programs. Attend them all.


Every boy who stopped at the house was required to show ID which I would copy in my home office and keep in a file. No ID, no visit.  She never spent the night out.  All the friends could spend the night here, if they were decent.  I have no boundaries, there is no right to privacy. I took her cellphone while she was sleeping and copied all the phone numbers.  When she was outside, I searched her room.  While she was hospitalized I answered her cellphone, and grilled each caller, as well as warned them away.  While she slept , I checked her purse.  I am in charge.


Fortunately, I work from home, so I could keep a close eye on her.  This took about two years of 100% of my energy, and my business suffered, but I perservered.  Many of the parents of her friends do not parent their children.  These people are your enemies.  She was pretty much restricted to our house for the majority of two years.  I love her too much to let the street get her, and I sat up all night many nights to make sure she stayed in.  It is exhausting, but worth it.


She is now 17, thanks me for  all I have done, goes to school, (nights, too much skipping, got behind), but although I will miss seeing her graduate, we will have a GED, and she is smart enough to go on.  Sending her to school to find she can't perform would just give her a reason to skip and get in trouble.  She is now allowed to have a boyfriend, and we love him.  She can go to his house, parents home, I check, and I pick her up by 11.


We made it, and with a lot of determination, stamina, CONSISTENCY, if they know there are consequences ALL THE TIME, they will think twice.  Use every resource.  It may not be convenient for you, but it is not ABOUT you.   There will be some slipups, but we never had a shouting fight.  Calm reasonable resolution is important.  If you drink or do drugs yourself, you cannot be an effective parent.  Look at yourselves closely.  Do not attack the child personally, never attack their soul, just their actions.


Good luck to all the parents who care.  You can do it.

March 28, 2007, 3:51 pm CDT

Good for you

Quote From: casco1126

I am so disappointed by the general assumption that parents should have done something different with their kids. Sure some parents DO need to stop and take a good look, at themselves,  but there are plenty of others who can't win for losing.  My daughter started running away at the age of 12 and I turned over every stone available to get her some help.  Teachers told me to chill out, guidance counselers took offense when I aspired to work WITH them to uncover the sources of the problem , and police officers refused to respond when I'd request they arrest her on the most trivial of offenses in order to ultimately mandate the treatment she desperately needed. I was always more than willing to acknowledge whatever  role I might have played in contributing to my daugher's problems and the system severely let me down in alot of ways. Long story short, my daughter is now 27 , a recovering heroin addict, is miraculously alive and today we are the best of friends.  But I feel like a victim of PTSD.  The turmoil and stress of years of trying my damnedest when she was younger to get her the help she needed left me quite spent, discouraged, perplexed and feeling like Yossarian  in Catch-22.  I mustered all the chutzpah I could to contend with one crisis after another and perhaps because my daughter was well-spoken and had the ability to maximize on her upbringing for being polite, clean and (apparently) respectful of herself and others, my requests for assistance were considered without merit.  And I simply resented the implication that it's parents who have to buck up and look at themselves in relation to the situations they're faced with.  Some of us buck up alot and end up feeling  like white noise. Today, I'm grateful my daughter is alive.   SOrry to vent, but it was so often an uphill battle that I was so willing to fight...but often felt all alone.  And a person can absorb just so much intensity alone til they crash or simply throw in the towel.

I just posted our story, and I can feel your pain.   I don't know where you live, but it seems as though there is no help.  PTSD is definitely a side effect of our situation. 


I am praying that your worries are over, and that your daughter stays straight.  Read my post when you have time.  The stories are so similar.

March 28, 2007, 3:53 pm CDT

Imagine my anger...

 When I tune in to the show today to hear Dr.Phil do the speel to the mother of the 16 year old runaway.  You know, the...what did you do to stop her?  There comes a time to stop being your childs friend and be a parent.  Take them to counseling, do whatever is neccessary.

    Let me tell you Dr. Phil,  I have done everything possible to help my 16 year old daughter.   A pregnant, in an abusive relationship, don't know which way is up, mom and dad will take care of everything girl who I don't know anymore.   I have even gone so far as to go to the courts, sign a paper to have her put in a State hospital for evaluation, only to be told......theres nothing wrong with her.   And for Counselors to tell her,   sounds like your parents just want to be in control.  Or to have Drs. tell her, " You don't want to end up like those Harley people who drink, do drugs and can't keep a job."

  I am one of those people, yet my husband works for the government, we pay taxes, live a decent law abiding life.  We have worked at raising a family that is close knit and supportive.   We also have 5 other girls.  I am in tears from the frustration from not being able to get the help my daughter needs to have a healthy relationship and to be able to raise her baby.  I fear everyday that she will not make it. 

  So, forgetting all the small details to our situation,  stop and think Dr. Phil, that sometimes it's not us parents that aren't willing to do what it takes, but the Drs. , medical people and courts and the government that aren't willing to help. 

                                                                                  Very upset Mom






March 28, 2007, 3:55 pm CDT


The boy on this episode is from a community near mine. I feel for children when they feel there is no way out but to run. I too had grown up with my mother raising me with 2 others. Skipping school at 1st grade because I was afraid of making a mistake in class and risk having the teacher hit me with a ruler. I didn't have a voice. I was shy and scared to death to speak up to an adult let alone schoolmates.When times got bad with Mom I ran to live with Dad after he remarried. When things went bad with Dad's 2nd marriage I went to Mom. When Mom remarried and things got tough I went to Dad again. When Dad's 4th wife got tired of me as a teenager in their household I went back to Mom's. I was promiscuous, took drugs, drank , smoked. Raped at 15. I wonder now how things could have been handled different for me? I have been married now 26 years. Raised 2  children . I was determined to stay at home as long as I could.  My 23 year old daughter who still lives with us has a bachelors degree and now our first grandson. She hooked up with an ex felon on the web who has fathered her first child. My heart truly feels for parents who are working hard trying to do the right thing with their kids. I can only say I tried and sometimes I think not hard enough to raise my own. I do love them dearly and my heart cries for the decisions and choices they make.

Thank you for caring for these people.

March 28, 2007, 4:42 pm CDT

What has happened to our Youth?

I was your show today about runaways gone wild and my heart went out to those parents. Although things are different here in Canada when it comes to law and youth, I knew exactly how those parents were feeling.


I am single mother with 2 teenage boys, and my youngest son, had started to cut himself--they refer to it as being EMO, and then a couple of months later he had tried to commit suicide. The day that he had tried to commit suicide, I had called our local authorities for help (RCMP) when they arrived they advised me that they was nothing that they could do, because the child was angry and all they would do was look for him and bring him back home. When I told them that they had to take him to the hospital to get help, they told me no and that he was just angry. My oldest son went out looking for his brother and found him and brought him home, but then my mother and sister had arrived, my sister took my son to the hospital to get him the help that he needed. He was hospitalized for 3 days, and is now in therapy. I pray to god everyday that thankful to her and my mother, my son is getting the help and support that he needs.

I was so upset with the police force as was my mother, in that they decided to make a medical decision that could have cost me my son's life and didn't seem to care. I often wonder why we pay taxes if when we call them for help and they refuse to help us. But yet they are the first ones who yell when the youth gets into trouble and blame the parents--as parents we are caught in that when we ask for help we don't get it, and yet we get the blame when our children are out of control. So what do we do.

So my heart goes out to those parents, and I understand the frustration that they are going through. I am just grateful that my family was there to help and also give us the support that is needed. I also also very grateful to the doctors and the therapist at the hospital who are helping my child deal with a lot of problems that he could never talk to me about, even though I always told him I will always be here whenever they need to talk.

Anyway I wanted


March 28, 2007, 4:51 pm CDT

When do Grandparents step in?

I am the grandparent of 5.... two teenage girls 15 and 13.....We don't live close to them...but I do have a close relationship with them and their daughter.  Their father, while still living with them is an alcoholic and I have been told he uses marijuana....the marriage is in tough shape!  I'll try to make this long story short.   Last fall my daughter was ready to leave the marriage...but for some reason (I'm not sure what) she has decided to stay and she got a great job that she loves.... apparently so she could save enough money to leave with the girls.  Meanwhile my two beautiful granddaughters are "falling off the radar"... I see them on MSN and the 13 year old has listed her address and phone number... even tho I have told her Mom and told my granddaughter, personally,  that it is a scary thing to do.  There are a lot of issues... like I believe the 15 year old is sexually active... and frankly I wouldn't be surprised if the 13 year old is... they are looking for love and approval...So my question is ...when as a grandmother should I step in more "aggressively"...than just "mentioning" my concerns... Other members of my family have mentioned the activity on the Myspace etc...I am just worried that things will get out of hand...
March 28, 2007, 4:54 pm CDT

03/28 Runaways Gone Wild

Quote From: hatchettwit

ya know, I can tell you from experience that having a computer in family areas isnt a complete no worry situation. I used to stay up all night having sexually explicit role plays on aol (I dont know about know but 4 years ago the chat rooms were a perverts dream), surfing hentai (pornographic japanese style anime for the most part), and some actual porn. I have and I still do honestly see most of it as references artisticly, but over the years it became entertainment as well. At 13.. I really wish I hadnt seen those images, heard descriptions and sex stories glorified. I'm a mature young lady now (yes, girls can get pulled into that stuff too!) and I still am that sweet girl I was back there, but people are suprised if I speak of the things I've seen. Even the good girl can be up to no good. I wish my parents had done something when I was younger to discourage the temptation of the internet's privacy. My dad in an effort to educate me about computers told me how to clear the cookies so there was no trace. I learned how to make sure no one knew, had up random webpages  to hide what I was really looking at.  I became sneaky, doing things like this when my parents went to bed for the night.. I'm not proud of that. As much as you want to trust your teenagers, I urge you to take precaution. When I have children, I will always have a key logging program in the computer. I'd even go so far to disconnect the internet past a certain time perhaps. It sounds extreme, but in some way I think that it is worth the inconvenience.

Know what your children are doing, boy or girl.  The internet is like a free access pass. A child can purchase sex toys, porn, sex itself..  and never even have to give a real name.


Hope that gives someone incite.


(btw in reply to that parent that plays guitar hero with their child: I applaud you. I didnt get into the smut as much when my dad and mom played video games with me, and as they slowly stopped I did too. and guitar hero itself is an excellent choice :) hand eye coordination, a sense of beat and balance, and the opportunity to challenge yourself. rock on!)

My hubby is a computer geek and wouldn't dream of showing our children any tricks...I'm sure others would but I think we're fairly safe as I am a very light sleeper and i would wake the moment  my kids tried to sneak downstairs to where the computer my hubby often sleeps on the couch 3ft. away from the computer....I told you I'm a light sleeper and if he's up late, he often crashs on the couch.

Actually, I'm kinda sick to death of the whole video game thing as all our kids and my hubby  love rpg's (hack and slash variety D&D type stuff) I would rather go hiking or skating as a family actiivity.

March 28, 2007, 5:47 pm CDT

03/28 Runaways Gone Wild

Quote From: flthomcat

You don't like the charges, but offer no viable solutions.


I can tell you from my work as a felony parole officer (kids as young as 17 were in our office) that VICTIMS are tired of being victimized. If your only way to get to your job to feed your family is stolen (and the kid who did it has numerous previous arrests for theft of vehicles), you are going to want justice. You DESERVE justice.


Thefts are not victimless crimes. There are people who suffer because someone makes a CHOICE to commit a crime. As a certified teacher now out-of-the-classroom to raise our children, I can tell you a nine-yr-old knows stealing someone's car is wrong and it's a big no-no. Why he often continues to do it, though, is because he can get away with it.


In our country, we slap the hands of juvenile offenders... and then wonder why they continue creating victims???? Justice should be TOUGH to start (minus the adjudication of guilt and a record), then many of these "punks" (regardless of their family situations) might think twice before reoffending.


I FEEL for young criminals, but we MUST feel for the victims of their crimes and PROTECT society. Once YOU became a victims, you would think twice before condeming the system w/o offering any viable alternatives!

Okay, viable solutions.

Nine year old children DO NOT just decide to take off across the country and steal cars, and what does it say about the so- called security of your airports when no one bothers to question why this CHILD was claiming that boarding pass, and lying about his age, did anyone else think he looked like a teen able to travel alone, personally I didn't, but okay you want solutions, frankly I can only make suggestions, if I had solutions I would be a rich woman now.

Did anyone think to ask WHY ?  I mean REALLY ask the hard questions, or do we just throw him away, a felony conviction will follow him for the rest of his life, so you are throwing him away, no child is a waste, its that attitude that creates the reoffenders because they aren't given the resources and the chance to reform, he may know stealing is wrong, but hell lets just start charging the four year olds that take a chocolate bar from the cash register, after all they can formulate that that is wrong as well right ?  Most parents I would hope would march the child back to apologize.

Okay, Mom has four kids and she's alone, I know you're probably thinking "Oh wah, he's not the first " and you would be correct, but she's been overwhelmed, and do we know for a fact how much damage was done to that child by the abandonment of his FATHER, so what about a mentoring program such as Big Brothers/ Big Sisters to provide him with a positive male role model, scouting could also provide the same thing, he wanted to go to his GRANDFATER, the child is crying out for male attention.

How about training teachers and other school administration to recognize at risk and high risk children, or instead of complaining, lobbying for programs for children other than sports, keeping in mind not all children are into sports, the boy loves football, then get him on a team, give him an oulet for his anger.

Court ordered family counselling would be a good idea, and maybe parenting classes for Mom so she's not feeling so alone and overwhelmed by her responsibilities, maybe she could get him into an after school program where he could be watched while she works, maybe he could have a mental issue going on, mental illness is NOT always OBVIOUS.

He obviously spends too much time at arcades, that's where he learned to drive after all, is he hanging out with an older crowd ? Maybe the wrong crowd ? Is he allowed to watch shows that glamorize the "Gangsta" lifestyle ?  Maybe a home study should be done, not with the intention of taking the children from her, but to maybe give some insight into the family dynamic , a third party can often see the obvious that we can't.

I am sorry that you feel so jaded and cynical about our youth (comes through loud and clear ) that you feel a NINE year old CHILD should be just thrown away without the thought for compassion, but I think we ALL have a responsibility to ALL children to demand better from our government agencies, and school administrations and I stand by the statement, NO CHILD SHOULD BE THROWN AWAY, besides what good would it do him ? If anything Juvenile Hall, jail, whatever will only teach him more of the wrong behaviors.

March 28, 2007, 7:19 pm CDT


In response to Dr. Phil's final lead about how to make your home safe to all the "stuff" we encounter in our technology jungle.  It certainly has changed and continues to change.  I don't have the answers but our family has accepted a few rules of engagement.

1.  Internet access is blocked on our computer.  Children are limited to computer time with precedent given for typed assignments.  Research is usually done in our presence.   They have computer games but we approve their purchase and use.

2.  We live with basic cable and limit time and programming there as well. 

3.  My wife and I own cell phones for use in case of emergencies.  One in each vehicle.

4.  We do not own any plug and play system for our TV. Rather see them outside playing.

5.  We talk about positive and negative behaviors a lot.  We're not super parents- by far.  We have our definitive disfunctional moments.  However, we do eat our dinner together almost every night of the week.  There are some great teaching moments that occur there.

6.  We are blessed with children who do not ask us to purchase much of anything for them.  They are sensitive to our family needs.  As well, they want us- not stuff.  Them most enjoy my periodic stories of "Daddy (or Grandpa or Grandma) when they were on the farm" than anything I could give them.  I wish I would tell those stories even more.

7.  We value faith and the spiritual side of life deeply.  It is where we get our compass.  Call it what you will (opiate, pacification), I personally think it is the element we survive with.  I am proud to be a man who has faith and practices it.  It reminds me of the broader purpose and keeps me hopeful and encouraging.


Our current culture is much too self-indulgent and narcissitic.  We have lost our sense of community for self-actualization.  We're afraid our children are going to miss something they want or may need.  It is certainly much more tragic that we substitute "stuff" for quality relationship building.  We all know it is not making us any more content or fulfilled.


Sorry, didn't mean to sermonize.  "Keep on keeping on."

March 28, 2007, 7:46 pm CDT

03/28 Runaways Gone Wild

I guess what I want to say is this, parenting is NOT a popularity contest, and we are NOT our child's friend, we are their PARENT it is our responsibility to get them to adulthood alive and in one piece, anyone who claims its easy, are delusional.

When your three year old says they "hate you" it dosen't mean they do or will for the rest of their lives, I used to respond with " well I still love you" and they still didn't get the prize, tantrums were taken ( keeping in mind two year olds don't have the words to express their feelings ), I learned to walk away, and let them go to it " Mommy will be here when you feel better ", if you think a two year old tantrum is cute, you're going to LOVE the thirteen year old tantrum, and yet they didn't get what they wanted, I used "Please " and "thank you " "excuse me" to model the behavior I expected from them.

No parent is perfect, but you know they do forgive us (I'm not talking about abusive families, that's a different kettle of fish all together ), and yes as teens they do hate you at least twice a week if you are consistant in your expectations and firm about rules, without turning into a dictator, but you know, you'll be the best loved person in the world when they want money, a drive etc.  It all has to start though when they are little.

Dr. Phil makes it sound too easy to take back control from a kid who has had control of her home and family for 16 years, send her off to a special school, but what about the families who cannot afford these schools, and therapy is expensive for many families.

I would encourage parents to get in the loop at school, so what if they don't want you volunteering at the High School ? So what if they don't like surprise visits ? They will get over it, and they just might thank you for it, don't hold your breath though, you might not breath again until they're thirty.

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