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Punishing Kids Publicly Is Just Creepy!

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Ronda Kaysen: When I read about the dad who put a picture of his daughter in the local newspaper and offered her babysitting services for free because she broke her curfew, it made me sick.

A recap: Texas dad Robert Rausch woke to find his 16-year-old daughter, Kirstin, up at 2:30 AM -- with a bunch of friends over. (The house rule: No friends over after 11 PM.) Keep in mind that Kirstin was home when she broke her curfew. No alcohol was involved. And she's an honor student.

"My friend was over one night, and we said, 'What should we do?' And we said we should invite people over after 11 -- not my smartest idea," Kirstin told "The Early Show."

Kirstin's father told CBS's Harry Smith that he was so angry, his first thought was, "I'm going to kill her." Instead, the enraged dad decided to turn his daughter's transgression into what he calls a "teachable moment."

I beg to differ. I think posting an ad selling your daughter's babysitting services in the local paper -- followed by a national publicity blitz to prove your point -- is more along the lines of public shaming.

The ad that Robert ran included a large picture of his teenage daughter. Below it, the text read: "I'm in big trouble for missing my curfew and my parents are making me provide 30 hours of free babysitting as punishment. My pain is your gain, so call."

So far, Kirstin's fulfilled about half of her penance -- babysitting in the homes of perfect strangers, no less.

I find this whole episode totally creepy. Kirstin seems sheepish and embarrassed to be paraded on television with her dad. Meanwhile, her father seems oblivious to the reality of what he's done -- which is to splash his child's name, face and home number all over television, newspapers and the Internet ... as "punishment."

One day, when Kirstin looks for a job, applies to college or goes on a date, someone who doing a simple Google search will find this totally humiliating experience all over the Web. And she'll have to live with it. 

Talk about the punishment not fitting the crime.

next: Betrayal, Disconnection and Deception: Tiger's Tale
37 comments so far | Post a comment now
Robert Rausch August 25, 2010, 11:55 AM

Oh please, Ronda…

The “large picture” that we ran is smaller than your thumbnail; the “total strangers” are folks that live in our community who we personally meet to ensure that everyone is comfortable with Kirstin babysitting; and the “national media blitz” has been caused by news outlets interested in providing a lighthearted look at parenting.

Our family sees this as a funny story that we’ll tell for years. Can you imagine anything funnier than getting busted by your dad as a teenager and ending up on national TV? AND having a ton of strangers making fun of your silly bow?

Imagine what my grandkids are gonna hear when THEY bust curfew…

Danielle August 25, 2010, 12:09 PM

I think this was a great idea. I think it just got out of hand with the national publicity. Just think of all the possible paying babysitting jobs she cold end up with after this is all said and done.

Sara August 25, 2010, 12:12 PM

She sure got a lot of positive attention for breaking the rules. Sounded like the whole thing’s been a fun ride. Not that bad itself.

I do wonder what type of person would hire a babysitter that was babysitting because they were being punished.

Monica August 25, 2010, 12:20 PM

If a potential employer decides not to give this girl a job 10 years later after seeing her on Google because her dad was teaching her a lesson then obviously that employer is not worth working for in the first place. Who basis their whole judgment on what they see on google? That would be absurd. Beside she didn’t commit a crime and she’s a teenager. If am employer basis your ability to do a job off of a teenage experience then like I said move on and quickly because thats not someone I would want to work for anyway.

Anonymous August 25, 2010, 12:31 PM

Have fun raising your self-entitled, spoiled, brats who will be walking all over you Rhonda

Anonymous August 25, 2010, 12:32 PM

Seriously, since when is being ashamed of your bad actions a bad thing?

Robert Rausch August 25, 2010, 12:43 PM

Dang it! Sara reminded me of another comment that I wanted to make.

A number of folks have noted that they wouldn’t hire a babysitter who was simply “working off a punishment.” That’s actually a really good point AND one we never considered…

All I can say, is that when someone answers the ad, I personally speak with them and Wendy, Kirstin and I physically visit their home. We meet the parents & kids and the other parents & kids meet us. If anyone’s uncomfortable for any reason, we simply say goodbye.

BTW, they’re running a poll at my office asking who had the worst look: My suspenders or her bow?

UGH! Was it really THAT bad?

Wendy August 25, 2010, 12:54 PM

I’m not really sure how I feel about this. I think the punishment, as originally (seemingly) intended, was not a bad idea. It actually seems like a rather creative punishment to me, very innovative in a world in which traditional punishments no longer seem to have the intended effect.

I do think that all the publicity makes it rather embarrassing, and that I don’t agree with. I have never believed that publicly humiliating my children is an effective way of getting them to realize what they’ve done wrong and not repeat the behavior. However, I don’t believe this parent did this with the intention of creating all this publicity and humiliating his child. If he did, then he’s wrong. But I can’t really see that that was his intention.

Cindi Schultz August 25, 2010, 1:10 PM

Robert, a lot of people agree the punishment was clever-but that you putting it in the paper was immature. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t ‘that bad’. Your daughter has handled this with grace. Of course we don’t know your family relationship so we can all laugh at our armchair psychology too-here’s mine: your backhanded comments about your daughter’s bow are a little telling about what she hears from you about how you think of her. Put some faith in her, she appears to be an extremely good kid who deserves to have a few friends over.

Anon August 25, 2010, 1:34 PM

Robert quit googling yourself. Your 15 minutes are over.

Kim S. August 25, 2010, 7:42 PM

That is awful! So what, she had some friends over….oh well! Give the kid some freedom! And then shaming her her in the paper?! That’s disturbing and wrong. Show some respect to your child and perhaps she will learn by your example.

anna August 26, 2010, 5:24 AM

“Show some respect to your child and perhaps she will learn by your example.”
And the quote above tells what is wrong with parents today - what happened to kids just being expected to RESPECT adults and EARN adults respect? Now it’s reversed and parents have to earn the kids respect? Insane.

This parent putting the ad in the paper has done an valuable service to his child. She won’t be up to the same antics again! Perhaps if people had a bit more public shame our kids wouldn’t turn out to be the spoiled, over-indulged brats that are expecting the world to bend over backwards for them. Kids wouldn’t turn out to be the drug addicts and lazy 10-year college students that we are producing.

michelle August 27, 2010, 12:12 PM

I agree with Kim. The father’s overreaction was totally out of proportion to the “crime.” That IS a bad example he’s setting. Being a grownup is all about keeping your cool and your perspective, and making sure punishments both fit the crime and actually teach your child something. To recap, the daughter is an A student who was HOME the whole time. Clearly she’s a good kid. So, ok, her friends stayed over too late. For that I would take away privileges or assign extra household tasks. But the father “wanted to kill her” for this? Seriously? That is just a scary red flag to me. I bet he’s one of those road-ragers with anger issues who will chase someone for 10 miles because they cut him off.

Jennifer August 28, 2010, 1:53 PM

This is disturbing on so many levels. Most of my friends who post pictures of their kids online make sure to never include their last name or contact info- but this guy proudly lists her name and phone number? I wonder how many perverts have taken note of this info. to use in the future. This so called punishment is way too overzealous, I get chills thinking what the punishment would be for a “big” offense, probably tar and feather her. Poor kid.

Anonymous August 30, 2010, 6:39 AM

I love the parents who are saying “poor kid” - hope you enjoy raising your teen daughter/son’s children while they are off partying and doing whatever they want just because they get As in school. Or hope you’re all able to “earn” your childrens’ respect!

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Miss Mynx November 22, 2010, 3:57 PM

The punishment in no way fits the crime. What does bbsitting & her public embarrassment have to do w teaching a lesson? Then even more disturbing he wanted to kill her for that? Where is the mother bc dad needs a mood pill. Sometimes we as parents have to recognize our own stupidity, when trying to show them how not to be. 1 more thing my parents never went to bed b4 I did, what were they doing sleep at 11 knowing that the daughter was up w guests?

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