Police say a Minnesota mother and her husband shaved the head of her 12-year-old daughter, then forced the girl to run around in a diaper in public as punishment for a failing grade on her report card.
The child’s 38-year-old mother and the woman’s 34-year-old husband were charged on Wednesday with malicious punishment of a child, a gross misdemeanor, according to Lt. Mike Monsrud with the Fridley Police Department. The offense is punishable up to a year in jail and or a $3,000 fine.
"Parental discipline is one thing, but intentional humiliation of a child is abuse no matter what," Monsrud told msnbc.com.
Msnbc.com is not identifying the family.
Officers arrested the couple Monday evening after a neighbor called police, saying a crowd of about 50 people, mostly men and boys, had gathered outside to watch the child, clad in a diaper and a tank top, begging to be allowed inside the family’s townhouse in Fridley, just north of Minneapolis, Monsrud said.
"When the officer found her, she was crying and hysterical and inconsolable," Monsrud said. He said while officers were escorting the girl to the patrol car, a neighbor took a baby blanket from her own infant and wrapped it around the girl, whose hair clippings were still clinging to her neck, chest and tank top.
According to a criminal complaint, the couple had warned the child repeatedly that she would be placed on “diaper duty” if she failed her classes.
"They told her if she didn't get good grades, they would shave her head and put her on 'diaper duty,' which I guess meant running up and down the street and cleaning up trash as a form of public humiliation,” Monsrud said.
A crowd started to gather shortly after the girl first emerged from her home after 7 p.m. Monday, Monsrud said. The girl was forced outside and told to repeatedly sprint back and forth, according to the criminal complaint.
"One of her classmates from school saw [the girl] and was calling her name while she was running but [the girl] told him to leave her alone," the complaint stated.
The Police Department received two calls during the time the girl was outside, which lasted about 30 minutes, he said.
"What is perhaps the most disturbing is that all the way up to the jail, the couple was laughing and joking, not believing they were involved in anything inappropriate," Monsrud said. "They questioned police involvement. They believed it was their decision as parents to discipline the girl."
Monsrud said the girl and three other children in the family have been placed in foster care.
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