The GEM Debate:
Is This Child Cruelty Or Creative Punishment? (POLL)
I thought this story would make an interesting debate about what can be considered punishment. Charlie Mayes, a 40-year-old military veteran was arrested on child cruelty charges after making his 16-year-old son carry a 23-pound landscape stone for several miles.
The teenager was watching too many videos and not doing his chores or school work. Mayes would sometimes start the punishment as early as 3 o’clock in the morning. He drove his son out to a location three miles away, dropped him off, and made him walk back with the stone. When he was home, he had to move rocks and other things from one side of the back yard to the other.
A pizza delivery driver was the one who let police know about the teenager’s punishment walks, one of which was captured in the background of a police dash cam video during an unrelated traffic stop. The police have not made that video available.
Mayes freely admitted what happened and neither he nor his wife felt the punishment was inappropriate.
This is not a punishment I would use. I would punish my kids for the same reasons as Mayes, but I think I would go about it differently. Mayes’s punishment seems like it is punishment for its own sake. Getting up at three in the morning to make a teenager carry a stone and move rocks around the yard seems excessive.
Why not take the DVD player or computer away so he can’t watch videos? You can force a kid to carry a landscape stone for miles, but you can’t get him to do his chores? Clearly, there are details left out of this story. Mayes very well could have already tried less harsh punishments and made the decision to go harder when results weren’t forthcoming.
Having said that, I’m not sure this punishment rises to the level of child cruelty. Some parents use labor as a tool of discipline. Some kids have to throw bales of hay. Others might have to “volunteer” to do clean up in their town. They might not do it with a stone on their backs, but the parents take extreme action to let the kid know that their behavior or offenses are no longer acceptable.
Unless the teenager was injured or damaged in some way, I object to the police getting involved. Is it a crime to make a child carry a stone? Parents need to be able to do what’s best for their families without the interference of people who wouldn’t use military-style discipline.
One thing that bothers me about this story is that the teenager is listed as only 4’2” tall. It makes me wonder if he has a medical condition. If the teenager was a 6’4” football player, I don’t think the pizza delivery guy would have blinked an eye. Maybe the teen’s size is what makes Mayes’s punishment cruel.
What do you think about military-style punishments? Did this dad go too far? Take the poll and share your thoughts below.