In 91-degree Gulfport, Florida, police say Irving Mauraice Millard, 32, punished a five-year-old by making him do “bear crawls” for several blocks on the hot pavement. The kiddo was “crying in pain” and “sweating profusely” by the time law enforcement arrived, according to the arrest affidavit.

So what did the kid do that was so bad that Sgt. Michael Vandenberg wrote, “There was visible redness and swelling to both hands and blister beginning to form”? He forgot his shoes. And the worst part is that some of Millard’s neighbors say this isn’t the first time they’ve seen this kind of thing.

One woman name Laura said that she refers to him as the “drill sergeant dad,” and that she saw him forcing another child to do the same bear crawl punishment down their street only weeks ago. “That’s exactly the kind of thing you’re not supposed to be doing,” she said, while declining to show her face on camera.

A local mother, Sander Myles, agreed that the punishment did not match the crime. “Just because they lost some shoes? Something that could be replaced? Heck, I’d have bought him some shoes … just ridiculous and very unbelievable ... never would I resort to that kind of punishment for my child.”

Somehow I think this has nothing to do with shoes and everything to do with using fear and dominance to exert control over a young child. In other words, it’s child abuse, and that’s exactly what police charged him with. By Thursday night, Millard was bonded out of the Pinellas County Jail, which makes me scared and sad for any kids under his “care.”

If he could treat a five-year-old child so terribly for forgetting his shoes, how much more might he terrorize him now after being arrested for it? Or you know, maybe this abuser will be the exception to the pattern of abuser blaming their victims when they get caught.

Either way, I hope that the authorities keep an eye on this case, and remove the kids from the home if the abuse continues. No child deserves that -- for any reason.

What do you think -- is this punishment or abuse?


Image via Meg Wills/Flickr