Parents Face Charges for Making 12-Year-Old Girl Run in Diaper for Bad Grades

Taking the “public shaming as discipline” trend to an all-time low are Minnesota mom Stephanie Broten and her boyfriend Darnell Landrum, who have been brought up on charges of malicious punishment of a child for shaving the head of a 12-year-old girl, and then forcing her to run sprints in public, wearing only a tank top and diaper.

The girl told police this was the third time she had been forced to do “diaper duty” as a punishment for bad grades.

Ms. Broten, 38, told police “she did not see what the problem was and that she was simply disciplining her child by embarrassing her,” an officer said in the complaint. The alleged incident took place on Monday in Fridley, a suburb of Minneapolis.

Reports vary on how many witnesses there were, but court documents allege that about 30 to 50 neighbors had gathered to watch the girl run back and forth on a local outdoor basketball court, the complaint said. One of her classmates called out to her, but Broten told him to leave her alone.

After a neighbor called 911, police officers arrived to find the girl “hysterically crying,” after having run the distance five times over 30 minutes. As police escorted the girl to a squad car, an onlooker covered her with a blanket.

“The parents believed this was appropriate discipline for their daughter to teach her not to get bad grades at school,” said Fridley Lt. Mike Monsrud, reported NBC News.

Police said the couple was even confused when they were arrested.

“They were in the back seat of the squad car laughing and joking with each other,” said Lt. Monsrud. 

Ms. Broten’s ex-husband, Justin Canfield, told CBS Minnesota that he was outraged. Court documents say that this was the second time the girl’s head was shaved for bad grades, however, which makes me wonder where the hell this dad has been lately.

Court documents also report that since April 18, the child’s 14-year-old brother has been sleeping  on the floor and eating nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches — also because of poor grades. The girl and her three siblings have all been placed in protective custody, and courts will decide where all four children should be placed.

Mr. Landrum, who told investigators that he and Ms. Broten get many of their parenting ideas from TV shows like “Scared Straight,” said that he deserves credit for changing the children’s lives for the better.

Anoka County Juvenile Court Judge Sean Gibbs ordered the couple to undergo psychological exams. The charge carries a punishment of up to a year in jail.

How anyone can think this is appropriate parenting is beyond me. This “punishment” clearly crosses the line well into the territory of child abuse. Further, while Mr. Canfield expressed his outrage at his daughter’s treatment, I have to wonder: Dude, where the hell you been?

“It’s almost too difficult to put into words,” Mr. Canfield said.

As horrific as Ms. Broten and Mr. Landrum’s parenting is, Mr. Canfield deserves some share of the blame here. As a father, you have a responsibility to know what’s going on in your ex-wife’s home. If he was unaware that his son was surviving on only peanut butter sandwiches and his daughter’s head had been shaved twice, and she was forced to run “diaper duty” three times, he failed his children just as much as Ms. Broten and her boyfriend.

Also, if there were 30 to 50 onlookers (one report puts the number at as many as 100), including teenagers and adults, why the hell didn’t somebody step in? Someone called 911, but the girl was out there for 30 damn minutes. We as a society need to step up, man up, and protect the children in our neighborhoods. While I respect other people’s right to parent as they see fit, I do not believe I am supposed to sit idly by and watch a child being abused.

Why didn’t anyone step forward, cover this poor girl with their coat, and protect her from the eyes of so many people? Why didn’t everyone there call 911?

Are we so afraid of confrontation that we’re not going to confront someone doing something horrible to a child?

Read more from Joslyn at her blog stark. raving. mad. mommy. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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