A dad is receiving both praise and criticism after devising a punishment for his daughter that some say bordered on cruel.
Matt Cox, a father of three in Ohio, was stunned to hear that his daughter Kirsten, 10, had been bullying other kids on the bus. He tried talking to her. He even warned her that she would be punished if the behavior continued. But nothing seemed to put a stop to the behavior.
So, when Kirsten came home with a note from the school administrators, Cox decided it was time to step it up a notch.
This time, Kirsten’s behavior had gotten her banned from the school bus for a few days. In addition to her continuing to act out, she would also now need a ride from her dad.
Cox was especially concerned considering this was the second time she’d been punished by the school for bullying. He was worried the behavior would continue unless he made a serious impression on his daughter about the gravity of her actions.
Cox thought the punishment should fit the crime, because, as he said, he wanted to make sure it was a lesson that she learned long term.
“This is my small way of trying to stop it in my household,” he said.
When Monday morning arrived, he let things go as they usually did. Kirsten got up and went through her normal routine. But when she went out to the car with her dad, he told her he wouldn’t be driving her to school after all. Instead, she’d be walking.
For the three days during which she was banned from the bus, he made Kirsten walk to school in the cold weather.
He hoped it would be a lesson that stuck with her for good. Over the course of three days, her wintery walk totaled about five miles.
Cox also took a video of the punishment and uploaded it on Facebook. There, he was met with praise, but also criticism from some people who said the punishment was too extreme.
Others worried he’d put his daughter in danger, forcing her to walk in the December weather, which was about 36 degrees Fahrenheit.
And others objected to him filming the punishment, saying that by exposing her behavior online, he was also engaging in a form of bullying. The publicly of shaming kids, online or in public, as a form of punishment, has attracted much attention and criticism in recent years.
Others, however, said it was a fitting punishment and praised Cox for following along behind her to keep her safe.
Meanwhile, Cox himself defended his actions, saying many parents didn’t see the seriousness of bullying behavior. He also posted an update that said Kirsten seemed to have finally gotten the message and understood the consequences of her actions.
“Still has all her extremities intact, is happy and healthy, and seems to have a new outlook on bullying as well as a new appreciation for some of the simple things in life she used to take for granted,” he said.
Cox is right about one thing — bullying can be seen as an epidemic, especially among middle schoolers.
As many as 70-percent of school kids say they’ve witnessed a bullying episode. While not everyone agrees with Cox’s actions, we can agree that bullying is a serious problem that needs to be tackled early.
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