Stephanie Ann Broten and Darnell Alan LandrumI definitely fall more into the tough love camp than the one that coddles and panders to children's demands lest their precious feelings get hurt. Even the increasing number of cases in which parents publicly punish their children don't leave me as outraged as they do many. In my mind, it's much better that they feel the sting of a little humiliation than just letting them run wild with no discipline; let's face it, sometimes talking and reasoning only get you so far.
A couple in Minnesota, however, has taken public shaming as a means of discipline to a whole new level that looks a lot more like abuse than anything else. Mom Stephanie Brotena and her live-in boyfriend Darnell Landrum have been charged with malicious punishment after the cruel public regime they forced their 12-year-old daughter to endure for getting bad grades and not doing her homework.
Instead of grounding her or making her hold up a sign, they instead shaved her head then made her run around their neighborhood doing laps and picking up garbage in nothing but a tank top and an adult diaper. They said they had told her she'd be on "diaper duty" if she didn't do well in school, and when she didn't, diaper duty it was.
According to Fox, at least 50 people were out watching her humiliating experience. Someone called the police, who showed up about 30 minutes into the incident and found the poor girl "crying and hysterical." Her parents didn't seem to think there was anything wrong with their method of discipline and were reportedly laughing in the back of the police vehicle.
Police Lt. Mike Monsrud told MSNBC:
What is perhaps the most disturbing is that all the way up to the jail, the couple was laughing and joking, not believing they were involved in anything inappropriate. They questioned police involvement. They believed it was their decision as parents to discipline the girl.
The girl and her three siblings were taken into protective custody, and the parents face up to a year in jail if convicted. While I typically worry about what kind of precedent these kinds of cases could set for personal parenting decisions, this one is so outrageous and horrifying that I have no qualms saying I think they should be punished criminally. Besides, if this is what they do in public, I'm terrified to think what they might do in private.
Do you think these parents should be punished criminally for disciplining their daughter in this manner?