teen punishmentPicture this: a 13-year-old girl named Kaytlen Lopan was playing in one of those McDonald’s play spaces in Utah along with an 11-year-old friend. They ended up chatting with a little 3-year-old, who had long blonde hair down to the middle of her back. For some reason, Kaytlen and her buddy thought it would be a good idea to cut the girl’s hair, so she asked a server if they could borrow a pair of scissors. When the server refused, the pair headed to a nearby dollar store to buy a pair. Then they returned to McDonald’s and proceeded to chop of the little girl’s hair.

Well, you can just imagine the drama that ensued! The 3-year-old’s mother was rightfully pissed. So much so that she charged Kaytlen with assault and took her to court. It was here that Judge Scott Johansen decided on an eye-for-an-eye of punishment rarely seen in court these days. He told Kaytlen’s mother, Valerie Bruno, that he’d reduce her daughter’s sentence if she cut off the teen’s own ponytail right there before him. (The choice was to chop her hair or have the teen spend an extra 150 hours in detention.)

Bruno opted for the haircut. She pretty much chopped her daughter’s ponytail off, at which point the judge asked the 3-year-old’s mother, Mindy Moss, if it was short enough for her liking. When Moss responded no, the judge ordered Bruno to keep cutting. No Bruno is angry, and she’s filed an official complaint against the judge. Oy, the drama!

Obviously I feel for the little girl. She was taken advantage of and I’m sure the whole thing was traumatizing for her. Of course, like many moms out there, I picture my own little 3-year-old befriending the older kids everywhere he goes, and I’d also freak out if any one of them threatened him or tried to hurt him in any way.

That said, I also think that Kaytlen has some major issues, and I doubt this bizarre punishment will teach her a thing. In fact, the ruling seems like more of an exercise in public shaming than anything else, really. Kaytlen has reportedly been charged in another case involving eight months of phone calls she made to a Colorado teen that included threats of rape and mutilation. This is serious stuff, to say the least, and it shows that Kaytlen is clearly troubled. It sounds like she needs some serious help, which is why this whole courtroom incident saddens me.

By no means am I defending Kaytlen’s actions – I think she deserves to be punished for what she did to that little girl – but it’s sad that she’s not getting the help she so clearly needs.

(Photo: c12/Shutterstock)