Woman uses public punishment to teach a lesson about bullying

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    May 27, 2013 6:09 a.m.

    The good doctor, the Media, those making comments, including myself--Monday morning quarterbacking! We weren't in the situation and should withhold judgment.

    My spouse and I have raised children, taught others in school and church, and have made our share of mistakes. But we've learned that children are pretty resilient after all.

    At least part of the key in successful child-rearing is in how willing we are to recognize that the child is a burgeoning adult-to-be. Do we discipline with the "because I said so" syndrome, or treat them with dignity and respect as we teach? Do we work hard to make sure they understand our actions toward them completely? If a bitter pill is necessary to help them learn, do they understand that we share in their pain, but know the outcome is better than the continued bad behavior?

    I'm willing to give this step-mom a little slack. If, as stated, she has a valid mother-daughter-friend relationship with the child, and continues to strive to foster it as the child grows, things should turn out right for both.

  • Jane B Portland / Clackamas, OR
    May 23, 2013 3:55 p.m.

    "After wearing a different style of clothes to school, Kaylee says she has a different take on the effects of bullying. She said “it’s stupid and it’s mean” and it hurts people."

    What else is this child supposed to say? Of COURSE she is going to say that.

    I think the mom is the bully! One for the punishment, and two, for allowing this story to be public knowledge. How do you think Ally feels now that every person she knows has intimate knowledge of her bad behavior and humiliating punishment.

    The punishment did not fit the crime, IMO. Ally is going to eventually realize she was bullied my her step-mother.

  • Jane B Portland / Clackamas, OR
    May 23, 2013 3:51 p.m.

    Think about how you would feel if your bad behavior was on a website for all to see! Did the child agree to let this situation be open for public discussion? Doubt it! From the article, I don't see much evidence that the child is okay with the punishment or the public discussion. Honestly, I wish news sites would refrain from publishing these personal stories about children. The child has no say. I would NEVER allow my child's personal info and behavior into the public domain. Come on people.

    And yes, forcing a child to wear ugly clothing to school to teach a lesson is heavy handed. There are many other ways to encourage a child to be kind to school mates.

  • SLMG Murtoa Australia, Victoria
    May 23, 2013 3:09 p.m.

    The article talks about teenage bullying but the girl in this article is in the 4th grade. Better to nip this behavior in the young before they reach teen years where it is much harder to get the message across that bullying is wrong. The Mom did the right thing.
    This story not only went nationaly but also internationaly as well. Hope parents around the world learned a lesson from this Mom in Murray, Utah.

  • BillNyeTSG South Jordan, UT
    May 23, 2013 1:36 p.m.

    Some of the posters here are equating this teaching moment with bullying. I couldn't disagree more. One poster even called humiliating a teenager abuse itself. I think this definition of abuse is overly broad. Learning is not always a pleasant experience - if we follow this line of reasoning, asking a child to do their homework might be considered abuse (after all, they don't want to do it and it causes distress).

    We must teach our children. And where we have failed to teach them, we must take corrective action. It will not always be pleasant, and indeed life will not always be pleasant. Some of the most rewarding efforts are far from pleasant. But humiliation in this context is not abuse, particularly where it teaches empathy for someone that was being truly abused by this perpetrator.

  • bzmomo6 Carthage, NC
    May 23, 2013 12:19 p.m.

    It seems to me that Dr. Goldsmith's suggestion of having the child do volunteer work as a from of punishment is not a wise thing to do. The last thing I want to teach my kids is to equate service with punishment. I think this mom is super wise and the punishment could not fit the crime more perfectly!

  • K Mchenry, IL
    May 23, 2013 11:37 a.m.

    So is it okay to tease to justify the means! I can't believe the school would turn their heads at this little girl being teased in order to teach her a lesson.

    According to other sources the girl was teasing the other because of wearing a tank top and shorts. I think it's because parents enforce a stricter dress code on her and her church perhaps also encourages this that gave her the idea she can publicly ridicule a child dressing against those standards. After all the school allowed her to be teased to teach her a lesson.

    The other news claimed the woman was not even married to the dad. Its not her place. The step mom didn't dress the child in a tank top and shorts, that would have been teaching her a lesson.

  • Eliyahu Pleasant Grove, UT
    May 23, 2013 11:00 a.m.

    Sometimes, what it takes to change someone's behavior and attitude about bullying is to put them in the position of the person they had bullied. That lets them see how it feels to be on the receiving end of what they were dishing out. In this case, it also apparently may have given her some insight into the attitudes of her "friends" who turned on her when she had to wear clothes that weren't "cool" enough for them.

  • MormonSean Salt Lake City, UT
    May 23, 2013 10:58 a.m.

    DavidMiller.. I agree

    I believe there is a better way, which is to teach. I worry with articles like this that some parents will look at the face and accept rash decisions instead of well thought-out punishments. Teaching choices instead of fighting them is the right way. I believe for step-parents it is even more true.

    I wanted to clear that up as my last comment wasn't put very well. I believe the problem, or dilemma, is in the effecting a change. We can choose to approach it with that purpose in mind or we can choose to get even and satisfy ourselves. Unfortunately, many still choose to fight their children instead of parent them.

    Maudine.. I think Shimlau made the point very clear, but I want to add to it.

    Growing up, I knew a family that taught their children good principles yet half of them ended up making pretty bad decisions contrary to what their parents taught. While I wasn't taught such things in my own home, I was taught in THEIR home. I followed their example instead. Not only do we have agency, but mentors outside the home.

  • MormonSean Salt Lake City, UT
    May 23, 2013 10:41 a.m.

    I believe it is a Father and Mother's right to teach or punish their children according to their parental rights, excepting for abuse of course.

    I also believe that we should teach all to repent and forgive. The Savior has given us conditions of repentance, and retribution is never mentioned in them. The only mention of punishment is the bitterness the unrepentant consign themselves to, the cup they choose to drink from.

    Even those who will not accept these beliefs must surely realize the bigger problem here, the future of those who have done wrong.

    Children are far more likely to choose rebellion from a step-parent than a birth-parent. This is common knowledge that no step-parent is without. For them especially, being rash in punishment displays a willingness to welcome their likely rebellion, to serve one's own satisfaction to punish, rather than choosing what will best teach and effect a change.

    Again, it is the parent's right to rear. People can choose how they punish. They can even choose what they want to believe about their effectiveness. But they can't take away agency. They can nourish it or fight it.

  • CG Orem, UT
    May 23, 2013 10:31 a.m.

    Heart and Mind

    "She bought SEVERAL outfits from a thrift store for under $50 for her stepdaughter to wear to school."

    Kaylee wore two of those outfits to school.

  • Heart and Mind BUENA VISTA, VA
    May 23, 2013 9:57 a.m.

    $50 for a couple of outfits at a thrift store? What kind of lesson was she trying to teach? How about $15 for two outfits?

  • SLC gal Salt Lake City, UT
    May 23, 2013 9:17 a.m.

    It sounds like the little girl wore the clothes, learned her lesson, and life moves on. I don't get why it gets media coverage, but in the end, it worked! Isn't that what counts?

  • Strider303 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 23, 2013 8:42 a.m.

    I am glad the parent took action, I am not willing to criticize the action because I don't know all the emotions and conversation that took place in the process to correct unacceptable behavior. I do not agree with JaneB's lament of surely there must be a better way. What way? Moaning and groaning about an elusive "better way" results in inaction a perpetuation of the unacceptable behavior. Parents need to act swiftly, decisively to adjust behavior to accepted standards.

    The daughter was hurting someone else, and she got a dose of her own medicine. Was she hurt? Yes, did she learn something about this affair? Time will tell but it is the parent's job to step in and correct. Sometimes the parents overreact but at least they act.

    I am aware of a son mouthing off to his mother severely, only to find himself punched to the floor by his father and told if he did it again he would thrown out of the house. This little attitude adjustment seemed to work fine, the son realized he was not top dog and changed behavior. Parents and son now have a good relationship as adults.

  • DavidMiller Bountiful, UT
    May 23, 2013 8:27 a.m.

    I think one of the keys that makes this situation great with Ally and her step-daughter is that she didn't go straight to the embarrassing punishment. Ally talked first and gave her child the opportunity to change before resorting to the more creative approach. We don't know exactly what was said in the earlier discussion but I'd bet that Ally gained some insights in that conversation that led her to this particular solution - Ally was not just throwing a tantrum or trying to humiliate her (ex)bully-daughter. The fact that the approach worked is a testament that she did it right.

    This is one great score for engaged parenting.

  • Shimlau SAINT GEORGE, UT
    May 23, 2013 8:13 a.m.

    Maudine; Perhaps the child was taught correctly. We are allowed to make the decisions that we want to make in spite of or because of the way we are taught. I know of many families where siblings turn out very different, even though they were brought up with the same teachings. And to Jane B; How did the paper get this information, and were you standing next to the mother and listening to the entire discussion? How would you have handled this with one of your own children? And I'm being generous and letting you do it with a child you know and not a complete stranger.

  • Jane B Portland / Clackamas, OR
    May 23, 2013 6:29 a.m.

    I really don't like it when these situations become public knowledge. I wish parents would think twice before allowing private information about their children into the news! I feel for these kids. How would the parents feel if their mistakes were plastered all over the news???

    Secondly, I do not agree with this solution at all. Any punishment that is meant to humiliate the child is abuse. Surely there is a better way to teach the needed life lesson.

  • EdGrady Idaho Falls, ID
    May 22, 2013 11:32 p.m.

    I think the stepmom enjoyed embarrassing her stepdaughter. Anything to drive a wedge between father and daughter.

  • washcomom Beaverton, OR
    May 22, 2013 10:40 p.m.

    Parents can teach all they want to, but the child still has choices that they make. Whether or not the child will follow the example and lead of the parents is one thing. The child is still under peer pressure at school to follow his fellow peers, in taunting or doing other distressing acts.
    We can all see logic and flaws with this example, but let it be known. The child learned what she needed to learn. Each child learns differently. It's up to the parents to distinguish what is the best learning situation for their child.
    Mom did a great job, as the daughter did for walking in the shoes of another. They both "got it".

  • Maudine SLC, UT
    May 22, 2013 10:24 p.m.

    Perhaps if the parents had previously taught the child compassion and not taught her that the value of fellow human beings is tied to things such as clothing, this situation would never have occurred to begin with.

  • Sandy Salt Lake City, UT
    May 22, 2013 9:54 p.m.

    Couldn't disagree more with this parental strategy. The bullying child has been publicly humiliated now (a form of bullying). She seems sweet. The parents are fortunate that their approach hasn't backfired ... yet.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    May 22, 2013 9:32 p.m.

    The mother was good enough to take action, and the daughter was good enough to receive correction. Now an apology is in order.

  • Beaver Native Garland, UT
    May 22, 2013 8:06 p.m.

    I disagree with the title of the article. I don't think that the mother was using the method as punishment, but rather having her child walk in someone else's shoes for a while. The difference between punishment and teaching in this situation would be the attitude and approach of the mother. If the mother was doing it to punish the young woman, it would surely backfire and all the young woman would have learned is resentment. Instead, the mother seemed to be using it as an opportunity to teach the child compassion and empathy.

  • EnosEugenius Shenandoah, IA
    May 22, 2013 7:28 p.m.

    Bubble, you're absolutely correct in your general statement. But I don't see how it applies to this story. The girl who had to wear the ugly clothes wasn't bullied by her parents. As for the rest, too many children have very little respect for authority, including their parents. Teaching respect for parents is part of teaching respect for authority -- teachers, judges, police officers, etc. -- and society seems to be trying to teach our children the opposite, so we have an uphill battle to begin with. Parents should be able to discipline their children without society second-guessing their choices, just because they subjectively believe that another choice would have been better. Back in the olden days, this was called "correction," "punishment," or "discipline," not bullying.

    Dr. Goldsmith sounds like an overeducated elitist who grew up as an only child and has no children of his own; because otherwise, he would understand that the textbook answer doesn't work on some children, and the average parent -- who doesn't have a doctorate degree in child psychology -- has to improvise with what they think WILL work for THEIR specific child, at a moment's notice.

  • Granny Saint George, UT
    May 22, 2013 4:14 p.m.

    Per the article, Dr. Douglas Goldsmith of The Children’s Center in SLC said, "What happens with that is the person walks away at the end saying, ‘Now I’m really angry. That was humiliating, and I’m angry.’” He suggested teaching children empathy by having them participate in volunteer service activities.

    I WOULD HOPE SO, Dr. Goldsmith. Let the offending bully walk away angry, confused, humiliated, isolated, and all those other similar descriptions. That's precisely the intended result.

    The bully, however, doesn't have to endure the situation for their entire lives as is the case with some victims.

    Also, volunteering in meaningful service activities is TERRIFIC and should be a lifelong pursuit. However, again, the volunteering children will never know what it's like to be financial poor, homeless, neglected, etc. unless he/she has truly experienced it.

    That is why Kaylee's mom had the perfect solution. HATS OFF TO MOM!!!

  • Bubble SLC, UT
    May 22, 2013 3:47 p.m.

    Yes - the best way to teach a child not to be a bully is to bully them.

  • OlderGreg USA, CA
    May 22, 2013 3:39 p.m.

    Dr. Douglas Goldsmith with his school and licensing credentials soundly trumped by the creds of the functional relationship between Ally and Kaylee.

    Expert advice should be considered -- not blindly followed -- when making a decision.

  • JimInSLC Salt Lake City, UT
    May 22, 2013 3:33 p.m.

    Good for you Mom. I don't see it as a punishment, rather a learning lesson. What is the kid that sees their donated clothing on TV to think. "I wore that to school. Was I being punished?" We should always be grateful for what we have. The clothes do not make the person. Kaylee, you are the same good kid in whatever clothes you wore, and now you know a little better thanks to Mom. Bullying makes a beautiful person ugly, even if they are wearing fancy clothes.