Parents force 14-year-old daughter to live in the woods as punishment

Jul 7, 2015 at 10:30 a.m. ET
Image: Getty Images/Douglas Sacha/Royalty-Free

When it comes to extreme parenting and "tough love," where do you draw the line? The parents of this teen girl thought it was actually OK to force a minor outdoors without adequate shelter and food.

Crystal and James Driggers have been arrested and charged with a single count of child neglect after police discovered they banished their daughter to live in the woods. NBC News reports the 14-year-old was told to live in a tent as punishment for eating a Pop-Tart without permission. The parents denied their daughter entrance into their home for two days — with hopes she would remain in solitude for one week.

Sent more than a quarter-mile away from the family's residence, the teen was given a flashlight, whistle, roll of toilet paper and a watch. If she wanted to eat, her parents told her to walk to the property line fence at specific times for her meals. Authorities claim the girl's brother provided her with a spoon and can of Spaghetti-Os.

The teen's grandmother alerted police after hearing about the incident. Rushing to the woods to save her, she took her granddaughter to her home before authorities returned her to her parents. After an initial discussion with the Driggers, police later discovered the parents once again forced their daughter outside.

"We feel very confident that the parents were overstepping their bounds," said police spokesperson Braden Bunch. "From trying to correct a child's behavior to true criminal punishment."

Investigators reveal the teen was turned away from the home between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. just a month before this occurrence. "She couldn't return for any reason," adds Bunch. "Not to get a drink, not to use the bathroom, nothing."

Crystal and James Driggers have five other children who are now in the custody of their grandparents. Their 14-year-old daughter remains with South Carolina Department of Social Services.

I understand children might require "tough love" at times, but this is deplorable. In addition to living alone without everyday needs, this teenager had to endure the elements — including severe thunderstorms and heat advisories — while in a tent. WFMY 2 News also reports the woods where she had to stay contained wild hogs.

Sadly, another heartbreaking story of "extreme parenting" is also making the news -- this one with devastating consequences. A 9-year-old boy died after he was beaten and handcuffed for eating a piece of cake. A piece of cake!

When will people realize this is a form of child abuse that can — and very likely will — end in tragedy? Sure, there's a back-and-forth debate about spanking and whether or not it's OK, but this goes beyond a smack on the hand or butt.

There are so many people in the world who would love to have children and unfortunately can't.

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