An Ohio father’s approach to disciplining his 10-year-old child by making her walk five miles to school in near-freezing temperatures has gone viral and divided the internet.
Matt Cox posted a video of his controversial punishment method to Facebook, which showed his young daughter, Kirsten, walking alongside the road carrying a backpack and school supplies, while he drove slowly behind her and provided a commentary explaining his reasoning.
The young girl found herself in this situation after receiving a three-day school bus suspension for bullying another passenger. According to Cox, this is the second time his daughter has been caught bullying and he decided to take drastic action to hold her accountable.
According to a report by 13ABC, Cox broke up the five-mile walk over the course of Kirsten’s three-day suspension, completing the final two-mile stretch on the last day.
In the video, Cox explains his actions by saying, “let me make this extremely clear: bullying is unacceptable, especially in my household.” He goes on to suggest that children often have a sense of entitlement and believe that “the things their parents do for them is a right, not a privilege.”
Kirsten had told her father that he would need to drive her to school while she was suspended from the bus service, and as the video demonstrates, she later learned the hard way that that wouldn’t be the case.
The video has received millions of views and hundreds of thousands of comments. Some viewers praise the bold decision and share their own stories of bullying, while others believe the punishment is too harsh and is humiliating for the young girl.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640"] Via CBS Studios[/caption]
Cox appreciates that every parenting style is different and acknowledges in the video that “a lot of you parents are not going to agree with this,” but added, “I’m doing what I feel is right.”
“This is my small way of trying to stop [bullying] in my household,” Cox told 13ABC reporters. “I’m not going to be another parent that's just going to brush things under the rug and say ‘kids will be kids.’”
Holding children accountable for bullying is important, but parents typically prefer not to admit their child is in the wrong, according to Prof Dorothy Espelage of the University of Florida in a report by the BBC.
Espelage praises Cox’s actions in part, saying that he is “doing the right thing of admitting and accepting his daughter's behavior,” but adds that she would suggest an alternative punishment to walking long distances in the cold.
Kirsten herself told reporters that she knows how it feels to be on the receiving end of bullying, as she was also bullied by other children.
Espelage suggests that there should be “ongoing conversations” about bullying and its impact, rather than short-term solutions that do not address the culture of bullying in the school or bus service.
As divisive as Cox’s method may be, it seems to have worked. In an updated Facebook post, the Swanton-based father shared that the lesson had been learned and that Kirsten seemed 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.”
Sometimes it pays to learn things the hard way and walk a mile – or five – in someone else’s shoes.