Day care worker bites child to show that biting is wrong

A biting incident got someone kicked out of a Cincinnati-area day care on Thursday. That someone was day care worker Robin Mullins, 56, who bit a young child "to teach him a lesson," according to court records. From

According to court documents, the 5-year-old bit another child at Andrew’s Friends Pre-School & Daycare, 9870 Pippin Road, Colerain Township.

He was taken to the office, where Mullins allegedly bit him on the arm… She left a mark on the boy and caused an injury, police said.

"Day-care worker accused of biting 5-year-old" (Thanks, Charles Pescovitz!)


  1. *smack* “Don’t hit!”

    Son, welcome to the wild world of adulthood. The cognitive dissonance and unfairness that you feel is natural. Unfortunately.

    1. Eh, I’d give it a little more credit than that: experiencing a negative outcome for yourself probably makes it considerably easier to understand why inflicting that outcome on others is forbidden, if you don’t already possess comparatively advanced theory of mind.

      Doesn’t mean that this particular worker shouldn’t be off looking for exciting opportunities in some other sector, or that the hypothetical ‘use of corporal punishment to discourage physical violence’ wouldn’t be dissonant; but I suspect that being bitten provides an otherwise unavailable perspective on why you aren’t supposed to bite people.

      1. Yeah…giving a little nip that doesn’t leave a mark BY THE PARENT might have been a good exercise.   

  2. Did the daycare worker have some sort of transmittable disease? More importantly, did the kid stop biting others? I feel like the synopsis left out the most important parts of the story.

    1. That’s the spirit – can’t let the cycle end. What do we do with the person with the 2×4?

    2. Lycanthropy or vampirism? Has popular culture taught you nothing? The kid is going to turn into a daycare worker.

  3. My nephew can be a bit of a handful at times. Once, when he wouldn’t stop pinching people hard and thinking it was a game even when told in no uncertain terms not to, I pinched him back hard enough to make him cry. To be fair, he was probably about 9 at the time, and is quite sensitive – I don’t think I pinched him particularly hard, just hard enough to be unpleasant.

    I don’t really regret it, more that I had to do it. He had to see what it was like for other people.

    1. It may disqualify you from ‘hero of nonviolent passive resistance’ status; but just about anything you do as a direct response to being done-unto enjoys at least some automatic moral elevation… And 9 isn’t exactly ‘helpless uncomprehending baby’ age. You are almost a real person by that point…

      1. Damn it. No no no, you’re supposed to say:
        “An eye for an eye. I see nothing wrong with this.”

        And then someone else is supposed to reply:
        “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”
        Mahatma Gandhi, (attributed)
        Indian political and spiritual leader (1869 – 1948)

      2. Tit for tat. I see nothing wrong with this.

        One word and one word only comes to mind:  Hammurabi.

        1. For those who don’t know history: Hammurabi was proposing that a penalty be *no greater* than the crime. E.g., a serf who steals a loaf of bread is fined equivalent cost, NOT lose his hands or life.   That said, I’m deeply saddened to see that, even on BB, in 2013, so many people think that committing violence against a child does anything other than teach the child that (1) violence is OK , at least if you’re an adult, and (2) next time commit greater violence and don’t get caught.

  4. I was a biter when I was a kid, and my mother finally put a stop to it by biting me. But I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have been happy if some other adult had bitten me. Maybe the kid should have been sent home with an assignment to have his mother bite him.

    1. my roomate’s sister-in-law makes $77/hour on the internet. She has been out of a job for 7 months but last month her income was $21126 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read more on  Jive8.c­om

      1. my sister-in-laws brother’s roomate’s cousin makes $78.50 an hour biting people on the internet. They has been in this job  for 3 months but last week their income was $73947 just biting on the internet for a few showers. Dear god lets please never read more on this again…

    2.  My mom did the same exact thing when I wouldn’t stop biting my sister (I was 2-3 at the time). And guess what? I never bit my sister again.

      But, yeah, if someone ELSE had bitten me? Hell hath no fury like my mom when one of her cubs is in danger.

    3. Maybe the kid should have been sent home with an assignment to have his mother bite him.

      Ha-ha — lots of kids come home from school with a message for their parents that says “bite me,” it’s just not usually meant to be taken literally.

  5. up to I saw the check four $9562, I didnt believe that…my… neighbours mother was actualie earning money in there spare time on their computer.. there neighbour has been doing this less than six months and at present cleared the mortgage on their place and purchased a new Lancia. I went here……. ZOO80.ℂom

    1.  I’m an adult,  I have four healthy wisdom teeth, and I’m keepin’ ’em.  You’ll have to pull them out of my cold, dead mouth.

  6. My dad (a veterinarian) always said that when you have a kitten/puppy that bites, you should bite its ear immediately. I’ve done it and it works very well, also with startled expressions from the beast. I don’t see why it should be any different with kids. No, I don’t have kids, why do you ask ?!?

  7. I too was a biter when I was a kid. And this is EXACTLY what made me stop. I was bitten by a daycare worker. She told my mother she had done it too. I stopped biting people after that. 

  8. Why do we ̶k̶̶i̶̶l̶̶l̶ bite people who ̶k̶̶i̶̶l̶̶l̶ bite people to show people that ̶k̶̶i̶̶l̶̶l̶̶i̶̶n̶̶g̶ biting people is wrong?

    1. No, we (uh, we in the abstract, I avoid kids) are biting kids so that the stupid little savage understands that external forces can inflict pain via biting, and that it shouldn’t do that or be surprised when people act pissed off after getting bitten.

      The idea isn’t to punish.  The idea is to instruct the little savages on the nature of reality.  Before getting bitten, a child can fail to grasp that biting others hurts them.  Bite a kid that was just biting someone else, and suddenly they realize that, shit, biting hurts.

      If the little monster is struggling to wrap its undeveloped mind around the idea that it is inflicting pain on other people and that this is bad, it is safe to assume the little savage isn’t going to be swayed by an appeal to its non-existent ethics.  It also isn’t going to notice or be outraged by any sort of  potential hypocrisy.

      1.  Pity that this kind of cause-effect thinking and empathic response is cognitively impossible for kids who are biting at the typical biting age (about 2-3).  Discipline needs to be developmentally appropriate or it’s useless. 

        1. They’re too young to understand directly how painful biting is without being told. Unfortunately, it’s the most effective method available. Question is, how much actual harm was caused? If no permanent damage has been done, and the lesson is effective (see: fast), then I”d say it’s completely okay. No need to get all offended that someone else is teaching your child important life lessons, if you have a problem with that you shouldn’t leave your children in the hands of others. It’s irresponsible to sit by idly while a child  continues developing antisocial skills.

    2.  The important thing here is that the little biter is not aware of the consequences of his actions… Not in that they may cause retaliation (as in punishment), but that they cause something called pain to others (as in empathy).
      By biting the biter punishment is not the most important thing (in fact excessive pain can be counter-productive), but sensitization to pain of others. “This is how I feel if you bite me.” At that point in development children have a very fuzzy sense of self vs other and by biting back you very effectively socialize the child “By biting you cause pain in the world and since you are a part of it you will feel that pain too.”
      The cause of most evil in the world are little biters who are not aware of this, who have either not been bitten back or have been bitten too hard which caused them to create what is called “armoring” in psychology.

  9. The only thing that bothers me here is the fact it wasn’t done by the parent, other than that it seems like a rather straightforward approach to teaching the child what it feels like to be on the other end of what they are doing.

    1. What’s the difference. If the parents are going to leave their kids in the care of another adult all day, the adult should be able to give whichever punishment the parent would give. Otherwise, rules are inconsistent and the child will have trouble understanding what the rules and consequences are. This is the big problem for teachers. They are supposed to keep the kids under control but can’t do anything to discipline them. If you don’t want someone else disciplining the child, don’t ask them to look after your kid.

  10. Yeah, this gets a big ol’ meh from me.  I don’t really see the problem with biting your child to show them that biting hurts.  Don’t break skin or anything, but enough to send the message of “oh shit, I didn’t like that!”  It seems like a pretty straightforward strategy to explain to a dumb kid that they are hurting people.

    The only thing that makes this sketchy is that it wasn’t the kids parent.  So yeah, this is poor behavior from a caregiver, but if this is the worst thing this guy has ever done to go a kid, it barely even deserves mention.  This is more poor taste and a lack of professionalism than a OMFGTHECHILDREN moment.

    1.  “This is more poor taste and a lack of professionalism”. So, only bite the tasty-looking kids, yes?

      1. Have you ever been around 5 year old children?  The are uniformly vile.  Unless you are a crazy old man who believes in magic and has taken a vow of celibacy  no 5 year old child looks tasty.  

  11. Merely the latest sign of the Zombie Apocalypse.  

    Nothing to see here people, move along.

  12. my mom used this punishment on me when i was a toddler because I kept bitting other kids.  I remember the incident and I never bit another kid again, I think feeling what I was inflicting on others really brought it home. 

    BUT! that was my mom and if a teacher or caregiver had taken it upon his/herself to administer the same punishment she would have been royally pissed

    1. “I think feeling what I was inflicting on others really brought it home. ”

      Exactly, this is not about “punishment” but about developing empathy which is also something that has to be learned. At that stage children mostly don’t even understand the concept of punishment – to them parents, grownups are gods and the world is a magical place where the rules of cause and effect haven’t solidified yet. By “punishing” a child that small you just teach it that the world is an evil magical place where it has no real control over the appearance of pain; instead of making the child “more responsible” you potentially do exactly the opposite. It is a fine line, but small children do not think like adults, they have different mental arsenal and what seems like “just” punishment may look as something completely different to the little rug rat. Small children need to be shown the consequences of their actions rather than being punished for them. They simply don’t have the mental tools to understand the concept of punishment yet.

  13. Eh. Dumb politically, but not ineffective.

    Because mirror neurons work. We learn both by direct and vicarious experience in the same (reasonably) harmless moment.

  14. My twins were at that stage at one point in time. 4 or 5 times I got calls from the school that my daughter bit someone.. The last time they told me she wasn’t allowed back until she stopped biting. I was at my wits end.  Then she did the unthinkable. She bit her sister hard enough to draw blood. I had to stop it. So I took her to the bathroom, got on her level and told her that biting HURTS. And bit the crap out of her hand.  She screamed bloody murder, and miraculously, she never bit someone again.  Funny how that works. ((I felt so guilty it wasn’t funny and to this day I didn’t think it would work, but I didn’t have any other alternative))

  15. I lived with a couple where the woman encouraged biting to her child. What a wacko she is…

    1. I have to say that when someone twice your size tries to hurt you, a deep face bite is a pretty effective weapon.

  16. Whilst not doubting that being bitten by parents has “cured” biting behaviour in the cases quoted, I wonder about the mechanism. Children of a young and bitey age lack empathy. They may or may not already be aware that biting hurts (I’d guess many are). The issue is that they just don’t care whether or not it hurts others. I propose the theory that the biting cures work because the child simply doesn’t want to their parent to bite them again. Not because they have somehow become sympathetic to their own victims’ plight. That comes later.

    1. Either empathy just magically appears one day or it is learned.  If it is learned, this seems as plausible a mechanism as any.  Unless you have a better idea.

  17. This is a non story.  Why is it in Boing Boing? Of course the worker should be sacked. Biting a child is gross incompetance.  Firstly biting a child does not teach them that biting another child is wrong and does not stop them biting.  It just shows them it hurts.  Just as hitting a child does not stop them from hitting other children.  There is absolutely no evidence that biting children stops them biting.  I train people to identify non-accidental injuries in children and bites from adults are often part of child sex abuse.  If you see adult bit marks on a child get on the phone to Social Services and report this straight away.  This is not a silly story but one that shows how people are preapred to leave their children with badly trained incompetant staff.

    1. How did you get from “non story” to the importance of reporting in one paragraph?

      1.  By exiting the freeway and then doing a surprise 180 on the off ramp:

        This is a non story.  Why is it in Boing Boing? Of course the worker should be sacked. Biting a child is gross incompetance.

        “Argh!  This is a non-story about which I have very strong opinions!”

    2.  Firstly biting a child does not teach them that biting another child is wrong and does not stop them biting.

      Well, a bunch of other posters here are testifying that it *did* stop them from biting.

      Now, it would be nice to have a moral framework to understand why biting is bad, but lacking that, I suspect many parents will do with second-best (third-best?) solution.  Likewise, as a child I wasn’t required to have a thorough understanding of my own mortality and car-human physics.  I just needed to know that running onto the street produced immediate, unpleasant consequences.

      Of course, the alternate solution might be to isolate a child from all other children for a few years until such time as they have built that moral framework, or in the case of the street, refuse to let children into a potentially hazardous environment without being tethered to an adult.

      However, in either case, it seems more a case of catering to a parent’s wish not to descend to second-best solutions over the over-all welfare of the child. 

      (My personal experience was trying to persuade my 5-year old not to shove children bigger than himself, occasionally knocking them over.  Many lectures, and the occasional early return home from the park failed to make a difference.  A big shove back by an annoyed 10 year old that sent him flying into the grass put an immediate, permanent end to that.  A few years later, he learned that big people were people too, but at that time, he learned what he was capable of learning – don’t do that!)

      1. Well, a bunch of other posters here are testifying that it *did* stop them from biting.

        Quite a few people throughout history have also testified that the mere smelling of basil caused a scorpion to grow in their brains, imbalancing their bodily humors.

  18. One of only four or five Kindergarten memories that are still with me, I was standing with a fellow student while another kid walked casually by, and my friend gave me a piece of street-wise advice:  “Watch out with that boy, he’s a biter”.

  19. Tit for tat, I am old school and not into tats like the younger crowd, but sounds like a fair trade.

  20. I’m kind of irked by the prevelrnce of people above me stating that this is only a problem because a non-parent did it.

    If your child needs disciplining and you’re not there to do it then they will be disciplined by someone else. In fact im pretty sure there was a thread here in the past couple days of people pointing out this attitude is a serious social issue of our times (parents thinking it somehow inappropriate for others to interact with their children in anything other than a coochy coo capacity) . If your shit is being a shit then they’ll be told they’re a shit. I couldn’t give a rats arse if I’m their parent or not. You brought them into the world, but we have to deal with them.

    1. On the one hand, who the hell is anybody to lay their hands (or teeth) on my child?

      On the other, if my child is insouciant with “third-parties” as they often are “in the comfort zone” with mom and dad, “third parties” will teach him/her a lesson, their way.  The older one gets, the world teaches lessons (reacts) in more brutal ways, better smaller ones now than huge ones later.

      1. Don’t get me wrong, I get it – it’s actually a perfectly natural response. It’s just something we should call ourselves out on, rather than use as the basis for argument.

        It doesn’t matter how old someone is, if they need putting in their place their next of kin should be irrelevant.

        Ok, so maybe biting isn’t the best example… but hopefully you know what I mean.

        1. Don’t get me wrong, I get it

          I’m agreeing with you, but also expressing the emotional dichotomy involved, first the gut reaction, then a bit of reasoned thinking.  The tragedy is that many parents never get to that second part.

        2. There is an implicit (and sometimes explicit) agreement with day care workers that their discipline will NOT be any more physical than it needs to be. If biting is an ongoing problem, they should be talking to the parents to deal with it, and if that doesn’t work, ask them to stop coming. But it is in NO WAY acceptable for a random daycare worker to /bite a child/, no matter what “good reason” they might have.

          You don’t walk up to a random misbehaving child in public and slap them, and this is no better.

          1. If you approve of the learning method then it shouldn’t matter who administers it.

            I wouldn’t smack a random child, no, but if that child received regular smacks from its parents I’d assume that they approve of it – so why would it matter who did it?

            That’s what I find entitled – not the wish from parents for people not to attack their children – but the perspective that it’s fine as long as they’re doing it.

    2. If your shit is being a shit then they’ll be told they’re a shit. I
      couldn’t give a rats arse if I’m their parent or not. You brought them
      into the world, but we have to deal with them.

      As opposed to, “if your child is being a shit then they’ll be assaulted”?

      I’m kind of irked by the prevalence of people above me who think it’s OK for a 56-year-old childcare worker to bite a child in her care, for any reason. I expect that she, and the daycare, will get the shit sued out of them.

      1. A lot of people hate children, although they won’t admit it. England and Germany, I’m looking at you.

        1. England and Germany, I’m looking at you.

          I can only think what your reaction would be to anyone else here making national, racial, or gender generalizations of the same scope.

          Doing so with the moderator tag prominently displayed may well give the impression to readers that making gross generalizations about group characteristics is fully acceptable here.

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