When Matt Cox found out that his daughter had gotten in trouble for bullying on the bus, he tried a different method of discipline.
Instead of grounding her or cutting her allowance, he made her walk to school.
It’s no short walk to get from the Cox homestead to her Swanton, Ohio elementary school. It’s five miles, and at this time of year, the weather was near-freezing.
Cox’s video, filming his daughter’s punishment, has gone viral; at the time of this writing, it has already been view 16 million times. But in the process, it’s opened up a debate on when a punishment goes too far.
The consequences of bullying on the bus
“This lovely lady is my ten-year-old daughter,” Cox says in the video, pointing his camera at the back of a young girl who is trudging her way along the dirt beside the road, “who has, for the second time this school year, been kicked off the school bus due to bullying another student.”
Cox says that he found out about the suspension when his daughter came home with a note and told him: “Daddy, you’re going to have to take me to school next week.”
“As you can see,” Cox quips in the video, “she is learning otherwise.”
Getting a ride to school in the morning, Cox says in the video, is a “privilege and should be treated as such.”
Instead of rewarding his child with a ride to school atop a cushioned seat in a heated vehicle, he made his daughter deal with the natural consequences of losing those privileges.
The video has provoked extreme reactions across the internet, most of which have been positive.
“Great job Dad!” one commenter chimed in after seeing Cox’s video. “We need more parents like you.”
“This is not even punishment,” another agreed. “It is a natural, logical consequence for her actions. You break the rules and lose your privilege of riding the bus, you walk.”
Criticisms of Cox’s parenting style are few and far between, but a handful of commenters have chimed in, accusing him of curing “bullying with bullying”.
“All you’re doing is bullying your daughter,” one user protested. “This is idiotic parenting.”
Cox anticipated the criticism.
“I know a lot of you parents are not going to agree with this,” he says in the video, “but that is all right because I am doing what I feel is right to teach my daughter a lesson and stop her from bullying.”
In an interview with WTVG, he’s clarified that he didn’t actually make her walk the full five miles in a single go.
Instead, his daughter walked a mile or two a day, breaking up the five-mile walk over the course of the three-day suspension.
Cox’s daughter, for her part, has told a local news outlet, WTVG, that she “learned her lesson.”
Her father says that, despite the attacks he’s received online, he would do it all over again.
“Still has all her extremities intact,” he wrote in an update, “and seems to have a new outlook on bullying as well as a new appreciation for some of the simple things in life she used to take for granted.”
More to the story
Dave & Dujanovic guest host Ethan Millard talked about this on this story on KSL Newsradio today. He says that the punishment is fine – but posting the video online crosses a line.
“He’s right, bullying is unacceptable,” Millard said. “But when you punish your child, videotape it, and put it on social media as part of her punishment, I kind of feel like you’re the bully.”