Kandyce Burchiel doesn’t regret her method of parenting following backlash from Chatham-Kent Children’s Services (CKCS), who she says have called her technique “borderline mental abuse.”
On Sunday afternoon, Burchiel received numerous honks holding a sign saying, “It’s creative parenting, not mental abuse,” at the corner of Lacroix Street and Park Avenue, where she was joined by supporters and strangers.
Burchiel decided enough was enough when it came to her eight-year-old son Connor Rushlow’s rising bullying of other children at school. Recently, with a sign in hand, Rushlow stood on same corner as his mother outside of Sobey’s grocery store with a sign reading, “I’m a bully. Honk if you’re against bullying.”
“He thought it was funny at first and didn’t take it seriously until people started honking,” said Burchiel.
For every honk received, Burchiel says her son started to take his punishment seriously and realized what he was doing in school was not acceptable.
“They haven’t had a single problem with bullying from him since,” said Burchiel of her son’s behaviour.
After failing with numerous attempts and parenting techniques to discipline him, including grounding and taking away toys, Burchiel came up with the sign idea.
“Nothing seemed to work until this,” she explained.
Since then, Burchiel said she received an outpouring of support from many in the community, including thanks from some of the parents of the kids Connor bullied, saying they’ve noticed their kids have been much happier since.
However, a few others, including CKCS, have disagreed with her technique.
“They showed up here when he was holding his sign. They said it was mental abuse because he was embarrassed to stand on the corner,” she said. “It wasn’t until the end he was embarrassed and that’s when we left.”
Burchiel, who stood with her son on the day, said he was in no way forced into doing it.
“He realized what he was doing (bullying) was wrong and he thanked me for doing it,” she said of her son who since came up with the idea to write apology letters to those he had hurt.
One of the supporters who joined Burchiel on Sunday and held signs to denounce bullying was Holly Warren, who also brought her son.
“I don’t think what she did was wrong, and now she’s being bullied,” said Warren. “My son has been bullied before and I just want to support someone who is trying to prevent it.”
Warren thinks Burchiel’s idea was not a sign of bad parenting.
“There’s only so much you can do as a parent before you have to start doing something different that is going to get their attention.”