Japanese Boy Missing After Parents Leave Him in Forest as Punishment

I admit that my husband and I used to threaten to drop our boys off at Boys’ Village (a residential home for young men with severe behavioral issues) when they misbehaved. Most parents, in a moment of frustration, have resorted to such threats (“so help me, if I have to pull this car over, I’m going to leave you on the side of the road…”). But everyone knows you’re not supposed to … you know … actually go through with it. Apparently some parents in Japan didn’t get that memo. From ABC News:

A 7-year-old boy is missing in a forest in northern Japan after his parents made him get out of their car as punishment for misbehaving.

About 150 rescue workers searched Monday in a wooded area on Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s four main islands. The boy, identified as Yamato Tanooka, has been missing since late Saturday afternoon.

Hokkaido police said the parents initially told authorities that their son had disappeared while they were picking wild vegetables, but then admitted they made him get out of the car and then left him behind “as discipline.” Police said the father returned to the site a few minutes later but the boy was gone.

The parents told police that they were punishing the boy for throwing rocks at people and cars while playing at a river earlier in the day, according to Japanese media.

The father said he was embarrassed about the massive search that was underway for his son, who was missing as a result of the punishment, so he initially lied about the circumstances surrounding the boy’s disappearance. “I regret what I did to my child,” he said in an interview with public broadcaster NHK.

Police have not yet determined whether the parents will be charged with child abandonment.

The child is without food and water and a heavy rain fell overnight in an area that is known to be populated by bears. It’s heartbreaking to think about that tiny boy, terrified and alone in the forest. Let’s pray that he’s ok and that rescuers locate him quickly!