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

Heartbreaking 142

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

child abuse, crime


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the4m... the4mutts

I have heard of it, and I have done it with my 4yr old.

BUT! Never, ever, ever would I tie anything over his head, or wrap him so tightly that he cant move! Jesus.

We do more a "burrito" type wrap, leave his head uncovered, and sit in the room with him, or put him on our laps. Its more a comfort than a disciplinary tool. The times it doesnt work, and it seems to agitate him more, we unwrap him immediately, and try something else.

He's not autistic, but he does exhibit some of the behavior of a child on the spectrum. Needing a heavy blanket over or wrapped around him are a couple of those.

We use it for comfort, not punishment. I would never tie, wrap, or bind any of my children as a punishment.

Lane-... Lane-Moja

How terribly horrifying. Cry It Out + a blanket= dead child

Paws84 Paws84

Umm I've never heard of it and I don't see myself using it for my daughter at all. I'm more of a 'stick your nose in the corner with your arms at your sides' or a quick spank on the bottom as a last resort, but hopefully it won't resort to that. She's much too young for either of those things right now. I've seen moms that just give their child 'the look' and they immediately stop what they're doing, I want to be one of those moms. Lol 

Lucky... Luckysgirl665

Wrapping a child with 6 blankets and covering his head is just crazy. I don't "wrap" my son in anyway and I don't think it should ever be done for any reason. Swaddling an infant is one thing, wrapping a child up just so you don't have to deal with them is just sick.

mommy... mommyof5484

people that do this are plain supid kids are not made to be tied up these parents need to be tied up and beat


Kathy Kent Redding

heres a idea how about we wrap them in blankets and then tie it around their head and tie their feet up and let them go just until they are about to pass out! wonder if the 3 of them would flip out 1 min in... this is crazy and a practice that is stupid to me .. and for all the people that don't believe in spanking YEAHHH this sounds like a better idea i can see how many of our children become agressive with spanking BUT with this geeze they should all be okay .. Whats wrong with people!!!!!!!!!111


Vanessa Ortiz-Perez

What happened to a good old fashioned smack in the butt! This society is so twisted and fucked up. It scares me to think what futrue my children will have. SMH!!!

Jenna Beltran

As it was explained to me its not necessarily a disciplinary technique but a way to calm a child down like swaddling does for a baby. When a child is throwing a tantrum supposedly this method is to help calm the child. I have never tried it myself but I do not really think its the technique that is dangerous but the lack of education on how to do it properly is dangerous.  6 blankets is excessive obviously and to mix letting a child cry it out with being restrained is just asking for trouble. To be honest I would rather someone try this technique then beating a child. I am not saying that they do not deserve some form of punishment for this but I believe they were trying to do something to help control the child that did not include beating him, but unfortunately they did not know how to do this properly. Like the one mother who said she has done this you are supposed to release the child from the wrap when they feel discomfort because it is not intended for disciplinary actions but rather a soothing action like swaddling.

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