A ten-year-old girl with a backpack shuffles along the right side of the road, including a theatrical stomp-limp that parents know all too well as an angry walk. The video shows Dad attentively following her at a slow pace in a vehicle.
The story is that an Ohio dad was angered by his daughter’s second three-day suspension from the school bus, but what set him off was her casually delivered demand that he simply drive her to school for the duration, and then pick her up. As the video reveals, the dad had a different idea: he made her walk to and from school each day for the suspension, an alleged five miles each way.
In the video, the dad acknowledges this will divide America—and it has. Probably, most parents generally agree that she needed some lesson learning here, but felt that maybe five miles each way was too much.
That same dad clarifies that he isn’t punishing her for assuming she could simply get a lift twice a day, but is demonstrating what it’s like to be humiliated: he’s very deliberate in citing the bullying as the offense, not the assumption that he’d cover for her.
The Czar isn’t sure where to find fault with this. The dad is totally right that she was wrong to bully, and that her assumption that this was a stupid inconvenience for her warranted additional penalties. Despite the obligatory and masturbatory journalism that conditions were “near freezing,” (they were only 36° and she was properly attired for an Ohio native), the dad is there at a close distance to block traffic, keep an eye on her safety, and be instantly on the scene if the hike proves physically impossible.
Trust the Czar: a 10-year-old can hike five miles in an hour and a half, with a backpack. And, with a school day of rest, walk the same distance back, especially in weather under 75°. The Czar has hiked a ridiculous number of miles with his Scouts, and knows what kids this age can do.
So the Czar was right at the tipping point: this is all plausible punishment, but is it a little dramatic? Is it a little over the top? Maybe a tad too strict?
But then the Czar wondered what her victim thought of the bullying.
What the victim thinks of the punishment is immaterial to the question: what did the victim think during the bullying?
Because here it is: the kid she bullied wasn’t a ten-year-old boy or girl of equal capabilities to the bully. That isn’t how bullying works. Instead, the victim was probably a smaller, younger child who was humiliated by this girl, made to cry, and warrant enough sympathy to make a grade-school school bus driver finally get fed up and issue the suspension. It must have been pretty bad.
The Czar wagers that if offered the victim a choice: walk to school five miles and back for three days, or sit on the bus for 30 minutes and be bullied by this girl, the victim might pick the three days of walking just to escape the torment.
That’s merely the egalitarian argument. The true measure of justice in this dad’s action was the walk itself and the posting of the video. The bully was humiliated by the punishment, and all of America can see it. Certainly all the kids on the bus have heard of it by now, and that’s the revenge. The bully now appreciates what it’s like to be humiliated in front of everybody by someone stronger, older, bigger, and more powerful than herself. Not just once, but day after day.
So the Czar is taking the dad’s side on this one.
Without revealing too much here, the Czar has consistently applied this measure with his own boys. They are not bullies, because they learned early: if you use your size, age, and strength to humiliate another kid, the Czar would immediately pounce and humiliate them in front of the victim so they can experience how embarrassing that is. Measure for measure: if the offense was an insult, the Czar delivered a worse one. If the bullying was physical, the Czar put the boy on the ground fast. Needless to say to some of you, this cured both our boys of any inclination to bully at a young age, after about two episodes each.
The older boy, in fact, has been lauded by a couple of his teachers over the years for standing up for younger and smaller kids, interceding when bullies are at work. “He’s frustrated by cruelty,” was a memorable phrase one of his teachers said when an incident got physical; the Czar’s boy was given a pass by disciplinarians for intimidating a bully in the midst of the latter’s work. The Czar doesn’t want to oversell this; it wasn’t a major event, but it showed he understood the severity of bullying.
Odds are great the girl in this story will likely switch to become a sheepdog as well.