Adults' Questions

What can I do about a child that won’t behave or listen to me?

First…Don’t give up! Being a parent today is one of the toughest jobs around. The Los Angeles Police Department offers a number of resources and referrals from parents seeking assistance with delinquent and pre-delinquent children. Each of these programs is described in greater depth below.

The LAPD is dedicated to promoting and ensuring the safety, education and welfare of all young people throughout the City. It is our hope that the resources we have included will provide you with the assistance often needed when dealing with young people who demonstrate serious acts of social misconduct.


What is molestation?

Molestation occurs when an adult or person significantly older than a child engages in sexual activity with a minor below the age of legal consent. The abuse can be over an extended period of time or a one-time incident that includes touching, fondling, kissing in a sexual manner, oral sex, masturbation, dry intercourse, digital penetration, object or penile penetration of rectum or vagina.


Who are child molesters?

It is not enough to warn a child to stay away form strangers. The majority of children are molested by those they know and trust. It may be the stranger, parent, older sibling, teacher, or person having control over the child.


What are the characteristics of a molester?

Child molesters:

Can have adult sex partners, but children are primary objects.

Have lifestyles that give them easy access to children.

May target specific gender, age, hair and eye color.

Use threats to manipulate and control victims or bribe them with gifts, love, or promises to lure victims into their confidence before victimization takes place.

Often commit first offense when in teens.

Continue behavior even after conviction and treatment.

May photograph or videotape sexual activity with children to exchange with other molesters and/or to shame a child into not telling anyone of the abuse.


What are some indicators of sexual abuse?

Indicators of sexual abuse can include:

Displaying inappropriate sexual activity or showing an unusual interest in sexual matters

Mood swings, withdrawal, and depression

Pain, itching, bleeding, discharge or rawness in private areas

Regressive behavior: Baby talk, sudden clinging behavior

Sudden unexplained aggressiveness or rebellion

Sudden fear of specific things, people, places, etc.


Why didn’t my child tell me? He/she never told me anything.

Many children feel guilty and ashamed that it was their fault. Children as a rule look at their parents as the ones who deal out punishment when they do something wrong. Many parents panic and overreact. Emphasize that the child is not to blame. It was an adult who was at fault and should have known better.


What should I do if I know or suspect abuse?

Call your local police department or social services department. In the Los Angeles area, the phone number is 800-540-4000.


How can I tell if my child is using drugs? What are the signs? How can I recognize if my child is abusing drugs?

Generally there are four progressive stages of drug use. They include:


Occasional Use

Regular Use


Not everyone who tries drugs passes through every stage. A young person may try drugs or alcohol and decide not to continue use.

According to experts, however, those who experiment during early teen years are more likely to continue use in later years than those who experiment after they become adults. A person who experiments with the more addictive drugs such as cocaine can move directly to regular use and dependency. The most important transition occurs between Occasional Use and Regular Use. This is when the occasional social user moves to regular weekly or daily use. At this point, drug and/or alcohol use becomes an important part of life.

Changes in behavior may be observed:

Change of friends

Loss of interest in school or hobbies

Drop in school grades

Loss of interest in family activities

Change in sleeping habits

Noticeable increase or decrease in appetite

May need to have more money than normal

Interest in music that contains drug themes

Interest in the drug culture (e.g. drug related T-shirts, posters, vocabulary)

The final stage is total dependency on one or more drugs. The dependent user must maintain a certain level of the drug(s) in their body to feel “normal” or to get the desired “high.” The move from regular use to dependency may be subtle. Or, it might occur rapidly with dramatic effects. Along with the previously mentioned behavior changes, other signs of dependency may include:

Change in attitude (e.g. frequent fighting with family and friends, rebellious toward authority)

Separation from family

Sudden mood changes

Lack of interest in personal appearance

Changes in eating and/or sleeping habits

Loss of body weight

Poor physical condition

Frequent illness


Is there a home test I can use on my child to see if narcotics are in his/her system?

Yes. Several companies produce home test kits that allow you to test for several types of narcotics. Check with your local pharmacy.


Can my child get drug counseling?

Yes, the Los Angeles Police Department offers counseling through the Youth Advocacy Program (YAP). This program is offered for first time offenders that have been arrested for minor narcotics charges. Information regarding this program may be obtained by calling the Referral Unit of Juvenile Division at 213-485-4240.


Does marijuana lead to more serious drugs?

Yes. Marijuana has been shown, by means of statistics, to lead to more serious drugs. Some studies have shown that 43 percent of kids that use marijuana go on to other drugs. Other studies have put the number in the mid to high 80’s.


What can I do to help my child if he/she is using drugs?

1. Determine the level of use and select the appropriate treatment.
Your child should be evaluated by a professional to determine the level of involvement and subsequent treatment. In many cases, family counseling with a chemical dependency specialist is all that is required. Often, however, particularly when cocaine is involved, medical treatment may be necessary. Selection of the proper therapist and/or treatment program is crucial. Your family physician or other trusted health care professional can refer you to a specific person or program.

2. Recognize that substance abuse is a family problem.
Substance abuse is a family problem. Avoidance of drugs by your child depends, to a great extent, upon your parenting skills. Parenting, however, is not a natural or inherited skill. It must be learned, constantly and consistently applied, encouraging growth and success. Your child’s development of positive values, self-esteem, and conformity to community standards and the law depends on you. You can not simply depend upon chance or faith. Your knowledge, skill, involvement, authority, control and care are the most important influences in preventing your child from abusing drugs. Parenting is an awesome, challenging responsibility, but it is not impossible. Parenting education is available through many public and private agencies, including adult schools and colleges. Substance abuse information is available from the Juvenile Narcotics Section of the Los Angeles Police Department at 213-485-4113.

3. Recognize that your own substance use influences your child.
YOU are the most important influence in your child’s life, even when compared to his/her friends. Your attitude and use of substances, including alcohol, influence your child’s use of drugs. If you involve your child in your use, for example, asking your child to get you a beer or to light your cigarette, he/she is more likely to use drugs. If you approve of your child’s use of alcohol under supervision, even moderately, he/she is more likely to abuse other drugs as well. Remember, YOU are your child’s role model!


First Time Offenders Counseling:

Youth Advocacy Program,
Referral Unit