Video of a father’s punishment uploaded to Facebook on Monday sparked a debate on social media about parenting and discipline after quickly going viral.

On Monday, Matt Cox uploaded a video showing his daughter walking along the side of the road. As the video begins, Cox can be heard explaining that his daughter had been kicked off the school bus for the second time after bullying another student and needed a ride to school. While slowly following behind his daughter in his vehicle, Cox adds, “Let me make this extremely clear: bullying is unacceptable, especially in my household.”

While driving, Cox describes what led up to the recording of the video, “She said ‘Daddy, you’re going to have to take me to school next week.” He went on to explain to viewers, “As you see this morning, she is learning otherwise,” and “today, my beautiful daughter is going to walk five miles to school in 36 degree weather.”

Cox’s video quickly went viral. With over 17 million views and over 368,000 shares, the video has amassed over 73,000 comments thus far. After the video spread across social media, Cox updated the caption on his post.

“UPDATE: lesson learned! Still has all her extremities intact is happy and healthy 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 #HOLDOURKIDSACOUNTABLE #STOPBULLYING”

Life lessons!!!!UPDATE: lesson learned! Still has all her extremities intact is happy and healthy 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 #HOLDOURKIDSACOUNTABLE #STOPBULLYING

Posted by Matt Cox on Monday, December 3, 2018

While many who commented on the video were supportive of Cox, others criticized the excessive nature of the punishment. Cox responded in an interview with WTVG that the punishment was divided up over the course of her three day suspension, and that last two miles of her punishment were completed on Wednesday.

For her part, Cox’s daughter Kirsten says she has learned her lesson, noting that she is familiar with how it feels to be the victim of bullying because “I was bullied many times by kids bigger than me.”

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, more than twenty percent of students have reported being a victim of bullying and one in three who reported being bullied indicated they experienced it at least once or twice a month.

The adverse consequences of bullying can be severe and, in some cases, even fatal. The CDC notes, “Students who experience bullying are at increased risk for poor school adjustment, sleep difficulties, anxiety, and depression.” Several studies have found a strong association between bullying and suicide.

Although the topic of bullying can be a hot button issue among parents, rarely, if ever, do people discuss its origins. Bullying is a learned behavior, often learned from an adult’s actions. In an article for Psychology Today, Dr. Nancy S. Buck notes:

“Too many people believe that children need to be controlled. This mistaken and commonly held belief comes from two predominate and erroneous misconceptions of the psychology of Freud and of behaviorism. When Freud described the id, the animal instincts of people driven to seek pleasure and avoid pain, society embraced this belief to describe children.”

Dr. Buck continues:

“A parent is not responsible for controlling his child. A parent is responsible for teaching her child how to control her own behavior. Let’s stop trying to control and change children’s behavior. Let’s stop bullying and abusing our children.”

The simple truth is that people who are hurt go on to hurt other people. Intervention from authority is not as effective as an individual intervening on behalf of the person being bullied. According to a Queen’s University study, 57% of bullying situations stop when a peer intervenes. A report from the Congressional Research Service found that school-based anti-bullying programs only decreased instances of bullying by twenty five percent.

Instead of judging other people’s parenting methods on social media and demanding more government involvement to stop bullying, Americans would be wise to take a look in the mirror and see how their own actions may be contributing to this growing problem. Only by developing better relationships with our children can we hope to create real and meaningful change.

“Let’s change our understanding, change the conversation, and begin peacefully and lovingly teach our children how to behave responsibly to meet their needs for survival, safety, love, power, fun and freedom.” ~Dr. Nancy S. Buck