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Parents Make Daughter Live in Tent for Eating a Pop-Tart

Sumter County Sheriff's Office

The Short of It

The parents of a South Carolina teenager forced the girl to live in a wooded area a quarter-mile from her home with little food as punishment for eating a Pop Tart without permission.

The Lowdown

This week the Sumter County Sheriff's Office in South Carolina arrested James Driggers, 33, and his wife, Crystal Driggers, 36, for refusing their 14-year-old daughter entrance into the family's home for two days.

The couple claims their daughter ate a Pop Tart without permission, and her punishment was to set up a tent in the forest near their home and live outside for one week with only a roll of toilet paper, flashlight, whistle and watch.

She was allowed to go to a fence at the edge of the property at specific times each day to receive food. Her brother brought her an open can of Spaghetti-Os with a plastic spoon for one of the meals.

The child was left alone to navigate the wooded area, which is known to have wild hogs, and fend for herself during severe thunderstorms and triple-digit summer temperatures.

The teen's grandmother discovered she was being kept outdoors, brought her back to her home and called the police. The police eventually took the teen back to her parent's house, but after they left, the teen was again forced to live outside in the tent.

During a follow-up visit the next day, the police took action. Four other children living in the home were sent to their grandparents house and the 14-year-old daughter is now in custody of the South Carolina Department of Social Services.

As the investigation continued, police learned that the teen had previously been ordered to vacate the home every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and was not allowed to return for any reason, including meals or to use the bathroom. Both parents have been charged with a single count of unlawful neglect of a child. More charges are pending.

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

The Upshot

Every parent has moments of frustration when raising a teenager, but this punishment goes way over the line. I hope the investigation looks at the treatment of all five of the children in the home and they have the courage to speak up about their daily care (or lack thereof!) so they can get the help they need to lead healthy, productive lives.

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