Mommy Tales: What I Did After My Son Was Robbed


Like many New York City kids, my 13-year-old son, a.k.a. the No. 1 Son, was introduced to traveling on public transportation by himself at age 11. He was TOO thirsty for independence, which meant snagging a set of house keys and riding the bus to school.

His dad and I sat him down for the drill about being safe, not talking to strangers and calling when he arrived to and from school. Most of this spiel seeped in one wax-filled ear and out of the other. Listening wasn’t (and still isn’t) his strong point, especially when he was eager to hit the gentrified streets of our Brooklyn borough with its new yogurt and cupcake shops—solo.

As his eyes glazed with thoughts of freedom and all the secret candy he’d buy, we made certain (or so we thought) that the No. 1 understood three important rules:

1. Don’t take your phone out in public unnecessarily, i.e. to play games.

2. If someone tries to rob you for your phone, give it up.

3. Don’t argue. Don’t fight. Don’t pretend to be Tough Tony and dish out any of that world famous attitude you’re so famous for in the house.

We wanted him to understand that some people have nothing to lose and that a phone can be replaced, but his life could not. About a year into his newfound freedom, two grown men spotted him violating the first rule.

The No. 1 Son and his homie were watching a YouTube video on his iPhone 3 as they walked to the bus stop. By the time he realized the men were following them, it was too late.

He was shook.

Thankfully, he handed over the phone to the grown man who said he’d “do anything to feed his daughter.”

When the No. 1 Son called me with this news, I hit him with a slew of questions. “Are you okay? Did he touch you? Did he hurt you? How is your friend?”

He kept saying he was, “Okay.” That everything was okay. His friend was okay. But I knew my son. That was code. He was hurt on the inside, the worst place for a kid to be hurt. I could put Neosporin on a bruised knee, but what was the cure for heartache?

He didn’t want to talk about it. So I didn’t push. Later that night the No. 1 Son confessed to feeling small and mad for not standing up to a grown man, especially since he didn’t see a gun. Whoa. I felt like my head would explode. I was angry that this so-called man robbed my son and made our family feel vulnerable, helpless.

Hindsight is always 20/20. And while parents do their best to keep kids safe, situations like this one are sometimes unavoidable. If something like this happens to you, take a deep breath and remember these five tips.

Mommy Tales: What I Did After My Son Was Robbed

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  • Nyomi

    Wow very touching story. The mom and dad really gave the son some very good tips. But the dude that robbed him should be trying to look for a damn job instead of robbing an 11 year old to take care of his daughter. The man lucky this kid wasnt strap cause usu kids and teenagers these days not going for that. But the kid did the right thing tho.

  • George L. Constanza

    Having a child will literally change your life, and the way you do things. My 13y/o son travels the public transportation by himself to and from school system as well and I have the very same anxieties.

    • Taiia Smart Young

      George, Isn’t it crazy how as your kids get older, the worries get bigger?

  • Taiia Smart Young

    Hey Nyomi! I couldn’t even believe a grown man would do that to my son. But he did and it just opened my eyes to issues about safety for our kids. I believe in karma. Nothing good happens for people who harm or rob kids.

  • Kiesha Kemp

    Such a touching and informative article. Glad he’s ok. My son is going to middle school in September, I am going crazy thinking about transportation.

    • Taiia Smart Young

      The main thing is to make sure your son knows how to be safe and what to do if there’s ever a problem. You’ve got this.

  • Noni Wahab

    It saddens me that our youth has to endure these moments. I know life is not without dark moments, but sheltering/ protecting our children is our drive as parents . It’s hard to accept that there are people who are less than human, who mean to do harm to a child. Thank you for writing this article along with the tips. I know it was hard not to scream and yell when he called you. Thank you for handling with grace. Excellent tip and something for us all to be mindful about

    • Taiia Smart Young

      It was definitely hard not to lose it! It still makes me upset to think about it now, but sharing my story helps me and I hope it helps someone else.

  • Emarie

    I know for sure this is a teaching moment and all children need to have a discussion about the ways of the world. I am sorry this happen to # 1 Grandson… and pray God continue to protect and keep him….

    • Taiia Smart Young

      The teaching moments just don’t stop! And it’s a constant conversation about safety and how the world works. It’s hard when your kid is 13 and he thinks he knows everything. Sigh.

  • Nequa Morgan Knight

    So often we think, ” It will never happen to me ” then life happens. Thank God he wasn’t physically harmed and you have a great support system to help heal and strenthen him emotionally. You both are stronger and wiser for it. Thank you for sharing your experiences as valuable lessons for all of us to learn from.

  • Emarie

    Nequa…I know this happen to your sweetie…Ugh… the times we are living in… I am so glad we are just a phone call away… family.

  • Julius Crowder

    was there remember. There is no gut wrenching feeling than to hear of a child of mine or any child for that matter getting violated by the hands of grown cowards and thuggish bullies. I know, I’ve been there. Karma however, has a way of reaching it’s hand across that invisible line and reaping catastrophic havoc on the perpetrators. As a matter of principle, Lil man must learn to discern his location and people in it and always be on tactical alert. I know, it sounds like war but it is figuratively. Desperate people do desperate things and it goes both ways. I’m desperate to stay safe and sound so I’m always looking ahead and around me. People watching at every turn because you never know who’s watching you.

    • Carol Sowell

      In todays nothing is surprizing, just very disgusting with at times feelings of hopeless, disbelief and despair! Child nor adult can not be careful enough well traveling down these mean life means nothing thugs, but Mom n Dad, did u think about maybe letting take a self defense class? Enough when ur caught off guard, the element of surprize will get u. I know cuz I got my chain satched off my neck while parked in my car in broad. Daylight with ppl walking by watching! The best advice is pray and teach him to pray for protection at all times going out and coming in.

      • Taiia Smart Young

        So sad to hear that someone snatched your chain. We have thought about him talking a self-defense class.

    • Taiia Smart Young

      You never know who is watching you as a kid or as an adult. The cowards that attack old ladies in elevators and steal cell phones from kids are everywhere and we have to keep our kids safe,

  • steva p

    This is madness but real life. I am so afraid for my son in his world away from mommy, where I cannot be there to protect him.No matter what I tell him or teach him, I cannot protect him from everything which for me is the scariest part. This traumatic experience your son went through is a reality check to the times of situations our generation of childre. Has to face, and the sad thing is that it gets a lot worst. All we can do is the best we can to prepare our children for as much as we can.

    • Taiia Smart Young

      I think we get tested so many times as kids grow up. We want to protect them from everything, but we can’t and it is SCARY. All we can do is give them the tools to be their best selves in the world and be safe.

  • Tee

    my daughter has had a cell phone since she was seven. She’s going on ten now. Due to my busy schedule and most of our Fam in NYC that phone is our life line when we are not in person.

  • Ola Kelly

    I remember learning some of those safety tips in school even before we had cell phones. Great tips for parents! I’m glad the No. 1 son didn’t get hurt. Thanks for sharing!

  • Monique

    This is such wise parenting advice. We are truly living in a different and often confusing times. It makes you want to keep your kids in a bubble! But keeping a level head, maintaining open communication and support #1 son is blessed to have such great parents.

    • Taiia Smart Young

      When I became a parent I finally understood my parents! And this was before we could call on a cell phone to check in. I’m talking pay phones!

  • mmdccbslm

    Great story. The important thing is not to react, but to respond. Great job with the parenting with what was a teaching moment for all.

  • Naim Muhammad

    I had a similar Situation when I was Younger, but I fought the man, which in Hindsight could have been very costly to my life !


    When I was about 15 years old, I was on the west side of chicago, on madison and pulaski and I just bought a new pair of gymshoes ! And I saw a brother in his 20’s following me ! So instinct told me to shake him. So I ran into a Payless shoe store on the corner and waited until the bus came. So when the bus came I darted out across the street and caught the bus. Well I took the bus down about 3 miles and I thought I was safe, but to my surprise the same man came up from behind, put me in a choke hold and told me to give up the shoes ! Well I put up and fight and all the commotion caused him to flee !
    I was prepared to fight, for the simple fact that I really wanted the shoes, I hadn’t a new pair of shoes the whole school year. And these shoes relieved me of the mild depression of being a “have not”! In a highly materialized youth culture, where children had on new sneaks every week and people were killing for Jordans, Gym shoes were of tremendous value. Anyways in hindsight I realized how silly that was !
    It cannot be overstated, that Parents have to Properly prepare youth for situations as such, We have to teach and set up protective buffers to buffer our children from predators who prey on one another, as the result of being preyed upon by the larger society!