Controversial Disciplinary Technique Blamed in 3-Year-Old's Horrific Death

A 3-year-old boy died while being disciplined with a supposedly old-fashioned technique called "the wrap." Little Michael Lee McMullen was reportedly tightly wrapped in six blankets with his arms pinned to his sides. The loose ends were then wrapped around his feet and head and tied into a knot. He suffocated to death. Three adults watching him, including his grandmother, have been arrested.


Grandmother Gale Watkins, who had custody of Michael, and stepfather Douglas Garrigus, and his caregiver, Donella Trainor, have all been charged with aggravated manslaughter. It was reportedly Trainor who wrapped him with as many as six blankets and put the boy down into his crib for a nap -- claiming that this was a well-used technique she had practiced on all of her grandkids.

After Michael was put down for his nap, he repeatedly cried out and was hyperventilating as his grandmother and stepfather checked on him in his crib. When he eventually quieted down, the adults thought he'd gone to sleep. But he was dead.

This unfortunately isn't the first time this sort of "disciplinary technique" has resulted in tragedy. In 2008, an autistic boy in Montreal was reportedly smothered to death at school after a teacher rolled him in a weighed blanket to calm him down. In 2006, a 4-year-old boy suffocated to death after his mother tightly wrapped him in a blanket. In 2001, an adopted girl who was forced into a "rebirthing ceremony" died of asphyxiation while bundled in blankets.

Isn't all of this enough to make it clear that wrapping children is dangerous? While it might seem like a good idea to restrain children who are a danger to themselves and others, that is the sort of thing that should used extremely sparingly, and only by someone who knows EXACTLY what they are doing.

Wrapping, restraining, bundling, etc., can easily lead to problems with blood pressure, circulation, or breathing. BAD IDEA. Not to mention there has to be a psychological toll on a kid who is bound and unable to move.

When it comes to disciplining kids, except in cases of extreme emergency, non-physical actions are the safest and best, in my humble opinion. Not to mention that all three of these adults could clearly see that little Michael was in distress -- and yet did nothing.

Had you ever heard of "the wrap"? Do you know anyone who wraps their kids?


Image via Lee County Sheriff's Office

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