Kauai father explains why he made his son walk a mile home

Photo: Robert De Mond

A Kauai man is speaking out after he was sentenced and fined for making his son walk a mile home from school.

Kilauea resident Robert De Mond pleaded no contest to endangering the welfare of a minor.

But, he told KHON2, all he was trying to do was discipline his son.

De Mond said when he picked up his eight-year-old son from A-plus at Kilauea Elementary School, he noticed his son was on a time-out. On their way home, De Mond asked his son what happened.

“He answered, ‘I don’t know,’ and I go, ‘You need to take responsibility for your actions. Why were you in time out?’ He kept saying ‘I don’t know,” De Mond said.

About a mile from home, De Mond stopped the car along Kuhio Hwy. and told his son to walk home, he said.

“(I told him) basically think about what you did in A-plus to put you in time out,” he said. De Mond continued home with his two other sons.

What people are saying:

“I’ve got to say, I’ve walked a lot further for a lot less, so I don’t think it’s that harsh to be honest with you. Most of us could use a little bit more walking in our lives.” — Warren Daubert

“It depends on the maturity of the child. It depends on the safety of the route. It depends on the age of the child. If it was through a neighborhood, my seven-year-old, I would feel completely comfortable if it was a safe path to school.” — Perry Howell

When De Mond went back roughly five minutes later, his son was gone, De Mond said.

Turns out, a bystander saw him crying, brought him back to the school and called police.

“As we went there, we picked up my son. I wasn’t able to see my son. I was put under arrest,” he said.

A judge sentenced De Mond to one year of probation and a $200 fine, calling his actions “old school punishment” that wasn’t appropriate. He also has to take parenting classes.

De Mond told KHON2 he initially wanted to go to trial and try to prove to a jury that he didn’t do anything wrong, but his attorney, a public defender, advised against it.

“All I was trying to do is have my son think about his actions and there was no intention at all that I wanted to harm my son. I just wanted him to walk home and think about what he did by the time he got home,” he said.

So why was his son on a time-out? According to De Mond, he was caught name-calling at school.

A family attorney questioned why De Mond was even charged when Hawaii law allows parents to discipline children by spanking them.

“It seems odd to me that he would have knowingly endangered the child’s mental and physical welfare. He obviously was not expecting his child to be run over or absconded with or whatever,” said attorney Brad Coates.

But child psychologist Suzanne Gelb pointed out that punishment out of anger is never good for the child. She said it’s better to give the child a choice and let him know what will happen if he doesn’t obey.

“So the purpose of the consequence is not to make the child feel bad, it’s to let him know that you need to respond a certain way or you’re gonna have to forfeit a privilege and that’s a wonderful teaching tool — no punishment, no anger, just matter of fact,” Gelb said.

De Mond says he will probably handle it differently the next time he wants to discipline any of his three sons.

If he stays out of trouble during his one year probation, his record will be wiped clean.

Kilauea Elementary School

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