A Facebook video featuring a 4 year-old boy being forced to run alongside, and ahead of, his dad’s car has gone viral, and not in a good way. On Monday morning’s edition of CNN’s New Day, co-anchors Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan brought in parenting expert, psychotherapist, author and BabyCenter contributor Dr. Robi Ludwig to discuss the story of 26 year old Brandon Yates, who forced his son, Clay Yates, to run alongside the car as he filmed him, in order to teach Clay a lesson about keeping his seatbelt on. Because taking your seatbelt off is dangerous.
In the video, the elder Yates films 4 year-old Clay running alongside the car as his dad shouts inspirational phrases like “Run or I’m going to run your ass over,” and occasionally checks his speedometer, even when the boy, after taking a seconds-ling break to clutch at his abdomen, is running directly in front of the car. Obviously, any good newsman would know the appropriate angle for this story: the perils of social media.
That’s the angle that KHOU took when they interviewed the dad, who complained about getting death threats on the internet (otherwise known as “being on the internet”), but also got some nice compliments. ” “I got a call saying I should be a special teams coach for the Texans,” he told KHOU.
New Day‘s expert Dr. Robi Ludwig took a similar tack, explaining that when she first heard about the story, it “seemed outrageous,” but “When I saw the video, it did not look as harsh to me. The child did not seem upset. The child was not crying.”
What Dr. Ludwig did find “striking” was the social media reaction to the clip. “The people who are most harsh tend to be homicidal, or direct this real aggressive rage towards parents,” she said, adding that “When it comes to parenting, many people are very judgmental,” and that “parenting is a gray area, what is right. There is no definitive right.”
“The question I have is, you know, does the punishment really, is it befitting, and does it teach the child a lesson?” Dr. Ludwig asked. “Does this child actually now know he needs to keep his safety belt on? Otherwise, you know, if you’re not teaching a lesson, then maybe you’re not being effective parent. But being effective and being abusive are two different things.”
Obviously, the social media angle is the news peg for this story, so it is not surprising that New Day would touch on it, but neither they nor KHOU bothered to inform the public that chasing a 4 year-old in your car is dangerous, instead focusing on the social media victimization of the dad.
Whether or not Dr. Ludwig thinks threatening to run your child over is “abusive,” chasing a 4 year-old at 10 miles per hour, while taking time out to film the speedometer, is very dangerous. Even with perfect, undivided attention, if the child had fallen in front of the car, we could very well be talking about “Texas Man Runs Over Child in Runaway Viral Video Hit.” That he was filming made it more dangerous, and diverting his attention to the speedometer was beyond reckless.
This is not a “gray area,” and there is a “definitive right”: you don’t chase your running child in your car. In fact, you don’t chase any running person in your car, unless you’re TJ Hooker. Exploring the hot social media peg is all well and good, but telling the public that potential vehicular assault is a parenting “gray area” is just irresponsible.
Here’s the clip, from New Day:
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