Despicable Discipline: Girl, 9, Dies After Being Forced To Run For Three Hours

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savannah hardinAs punishment for eating a candy bar and lying about it, a 9-year-old’s grandmother and stepmother forced her to run for three hours straight. The little girl, Savannah Hardin, became severely dehydrated, had a seizure and died three days later.

Now her grandmother and stepmother are facing murder charges – as they  should. Because I don’t care what the circumstance: no child should be disciplined in such a cruel manner. This is child abuse no matter how you slice it, and it is just heart-wrenching to know that a little girl has died so needlessly.

One witness, a neighbor named Roger Simpson, said he saw a little girl running at around 4 p.m. but didn’t see anybody chasing or coercing her, and so he didn’t think it was anything out of the ordinary. At 6:45 p.m., Savannah’s stepmother, 27-year-old Jessica Mae Hardin, called police to say Savannah was having a seizure. She died in hospital days later.

In an unusual twist, Jessica – the stepmom – gave birth to a baby just hours after she was arrested. According to reports, the Alabama Department of Human Resources has been called in to create a safety plan for Jessica’s newborn, as well as her 3-year-old son. The boy has been placed with a relative, and the plan is for the newborn to be given to the same relative when it leaves the hospital.

Savannah’s father, Robert Hardin, works as a contractor with the U.S. State Department. He immediately flew home to Alabama when he heard that his daughter was in hospital, and ultimately made the difficult decision to pull her off life support.

This tale is just tragic on so many levels, the biggest one being that such a ridiculous punishment is what led to Savannah’s death. The grandmother, by the way, is 46-year-old Joyce Hardin Garrard – and she is Robert Hardin’s mother. Can you imagine what Robert must be feeling? The whole thing is sickening, and I hope these women get what they deserve.




  1. Lindsay Cross

    February 23, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    This story just makes me want to cry.

  2. priscila valdez

    February 24, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    The keyword here is Step, That is what’s happening all over the world, Boyfriends, Step parents are the ones that are killing infants, toddlers, molesting them, beating them. I am so sick of hearing about it in the news and newspapers. When will these woman and men open their eyes, Does a piece of ass mean more than your kids? The worst part is they are probably being abused as well and still staying. No self esteem or just low life people.

    • Patricia

      February 27, 2012 at 8:51 am

      Seriously? Seriously? And riddle me this, the grandmother, was she a “step” something? Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t mothers directly related to their children? Wasn’t Joyce hardin directedly related to Robert Hardin? Curious and curiouser.

      So much for your theory.

    • Julie

      February 29, 2012 at 8:42 pm

      I think your’e both right, honestly. Significant others that aren’t the child’s blood relative are often to blame for cruelty towards children. I could be biased being that I was raised in a home with an abusive stepfather and for a long time I DID feel that he was more important to our mother than our safety- her 3 children. It took almost a decade for her to “open her eyes” and see what was really happening. BUT, it’s true that it’s heard in the news quite often and a lot of times it’s because the boyfriend/girlfriend/step-parent feels the child is getting in the way of their relationship. And it’s sad.

      But Patricia is right too- there was a paternal grandmother involved here. It’s not only step parents that can be abusive. Parents, teachers, grandparents- they’re all culprits. Anyone can abuse a child, it’s just a question of that persons ethics/morals and how virtuous they are that leads to whether or not they actually do it. No one is immune.

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      November 13, 2013 at 8:36 am

      Guys I’m sorry, can we please stop branding us step-parents like this?
      We’re not all that bad.
      It is f*****g awful what happened this poor girl, but to tar all step-parents with cruelty is ridiculous.
      I was raised with a loving mother AND a loving step-mother.
      I am now a stepmother of 5, the three youngest being all under 13.

      I would never ever dream of treating the kids cruelly. Yes we’ve had our arguments, yes I’ve had to discipline them but that does NOT mean, because I am a step-parent, that I am going to abuse or mistreat my kids.

      I get so many people saying O well, it’s not like they’re yours- four years with them in my life, yes, it is like they’re mine!

      I love these kids with all my heart and it really bugs me when people crack jokes about the Wicked Stepmother- I’m a 23 year old woman who has a wonderful partner and a wonderful family.
      A lot of people think O well their Dad is in charge- not so, they know I have an equal say as much as Dad does.

      Please, not all step-parents are evil, cruel or manipulative.

      Some of us are quite nice =)

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