Father’s Day special

by Walter Olson on June 15, 2014

“Dad Gets 1 Year Probation for Making Son Walk a Mile” [Hawaii; Free-Range Kids]

{ 10 comments }

1 William Nuesslein 06.15.14 at 3:38 pm

The judge should be made to walk 20 miles just for being soooooo stupid. Or she could run for president.

2 gitarcarver 06.15.14 at 7:44 pm

In the middle of the comments on the Free Range Blog is a link to another blog which gives a slightly different picture of the event:

http://kauaieclectic.blogspot.com/2014/05/musings-gone-crazy.html

And finally, the The Garden Island’s comment section lit up on the story about the Kilauea man who got probation, a fine and an order to attend parenting classes for making his son walk a mile as “old school” discipline. Oh, the outcry against Judge Kathleen Watanabe, the Office of Prosecuting Attorney and the nanny state.

Too bad the reporter didn’t provide the full story: A lady found the 8-year-old boy screaming and hysterical in the bushes, with no idea where he was or how to get home, so she called police.

Discipline is fine. Seriously traumatizing your kid is, fortunately, against the law.

I have no problems with a dad telling a kid to get out and walk home, following the kid in the car to make sure he is okay or even to reinforce the punishment. (“See, you could be in a nice cool car …..”)

But leaving the kid to fend for himself?

I am not sure I agree with that.

Whether my disagreement rises to the idea that the father should be charged and prosecuted is another discussion. As it stands now, I am not comfortable with the idea of criminalizing what the father did.

3 Walter Olson 06.15.14 at 8:09 pm

Thanks, gitarcarver. As always, a reminder that first impressions can leave out important elements of a story.

4 William Nuesslein 06.15.14 at 9:37 pm

Or it could be that screaming and hysteria could be just a feature of a child with an obnoxious disposition. My sister was like that at that age.

5 Anonymous Attorney 06.16.14 at 11:41 am

Even with gitcarver’s addition, I don’t like the sentence. How does that square with Britain’s decision to arrest parents for a too-fat kid? Prosecuted if you, prosecuted if you don’t.

6 Allan 06.16.14 at 2:41 pm

Yep. My first question was “how did the police find out about this?”

For some 8 year old kids, leaving them to find their own way home a mile away is ok. For some it is not. I guess this kid was in the first group, and his father should have known it.

My daughter occasionally walked home from school a mile away when she was 8 years old. She was fine.

My rule would be “if your child is mature enough to go out on his/her own, let him/her.”

7 Ron Miller 06.16.14 at 3:05 pm

How does that square with some decision in the U.K. that you don’t cite? Does it have to square? Let’s take it one step at a time.

At 8, the screaming and hysteria is called being 8 when you are left a mile from home.

My oldest is 8. I cannot imagine the evil in your heart you have to have to expose your kid to exactly what happened. The stuff that you carry for life is the stuff that happens when you are 8.

8 Allan 06.16.14 at 5:45 pm

If I have walked home hundreds of times with my child and she can do it without hysterics. So be it.

That being said, I would never kick any child out of the car and make him/her walk a mile home. On the other hand, were I to do so, it would not necessarilly be abuse. It would depend on the circumstances.

9 gitarcarver 06.16.14 at 7:03 pm

At 8, the screaming and hysteria is called being 8 when you are left a mile from home.

It is also behaviour that should be addressed.

I cannot imagine the evil in your heart you have to have to expose your kid to exactly what happened.

That’s a little strong Ron.

When I was 5, my older sister and I ran away from home. Unbeknownst to us, my father followed us. When we got about a mile away, I was exhausted and tired of carrying my suitcase with all my prized possessions. My dad came up and made my sister and me walk home. I am sure that she and I threw a hissy fit and cried along side of the road – the exact behaviour that got this parent in trouble – when he wouldn’t carry our bags back to our house. Was my father evil as well?

The real question is “what lesson is being learned in these incidents?”

In Hawaii, the lesson to the kid may be that if he yells and screams, he can get dad in trouble.

For the father, the lesson is that the state feels it is a better parent and knows the child better than the father does.

For me, all those years ago, I learned never to run away, pack lightly if I did, and to not avoid the consequences of my actions.

10 kimsch 06.16.14 at 11:39 pm

A mile! It’s made to sound like such a very long distance. But it’s really not. In our school district, kids walk to schools up to a mile and a half away. My kids’ elementary school was a mile away. They walked, I walked.

My kids almost always knew where they were in relation to our house, especially if we were within a few miles. I don’t see any of them getting lost a mile from home. I could/can see one making a big fuss and screaming and crying because he was made to walk, because he was being punished for bad behavior. They’re more upset over being caught/punished at all.

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