Missouri's North Kansas City School District has apologized after officials there punished a blind student by replacing his cane with a swimming pool noodle.
The student, 8-year-old Dakota Nafzinger, reportedly hit someone with his cane during a bus ride Monday, prompting school staff to take the district-owned cane and give him a pool noodle to use for two weeks instead.
In an interview with local news outlet Fox4, the child's shocked parents said the punishment was humiliating and inappropriate.
"Why would you do that? Why would you take the one thing that he's supposed to use all the time? That's his eyes," Dakota's mother, Rachel, told the station. "He’s gone through so much in his life already -- 8 years, 8 years -- and I just don’t like someone else putting my son in that position."
Following outrage over the punishment, the district returned the cane, issued an apology Wednesday on Facebook and pledged "to ensure a safe learning environment for all students."
Experts regularly caution against punishments that shame or otherwise embarrass children. Not only are they ineffective, but humiliating punishments may also lead to increased anxiety, depression and aggression.
"The research is pretty clear that it's never appropriate to shame a child, or to make a child feel degraded or diminished," Andy Grogan-Kaylor, an associate professor of social work at the University of Michigan, told MyHealthNewsDaily.