BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico family is trying to teach their troubled son a lesson, by making the 16-year-old stay in a tent in their yard. Now neighbors are reporting the family to law enforcement.

Is making your 16-year-old son live in a tent in the backyard an appropriate punishment? It depends who you ask.

“That’s a terrible thing,” said a neighbor.

“I don’t see anything that is abuse or negligent,” said Valencia County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Gary Hall.

The boy’s parents, Jacob and Angela Boggus, say they’re out of options.

“We’re not doing anything wrong here. We’re simply trying to teach our child a lesson,” said Angela Boggus.

“If he doesn’t learn that now, it’s gonna be the whole world’s problem, not just ours, in a couple of years,” said Jacob Boggus.

The couple says their son keeps stealing from them. They say they’ve tried everything to straighten him out, so it was time for a new approach.

“Or we let him run all over and then he’s in your backyard taking stuff,” said Jacob Boggus.

The Boggus’ say while the teen stays in the tent during the day, he’s fed, has all the water he needs and can use the bathroom in the house. He also goes inside at nine p.m. each night to sleep.

“We are trying to do the best that we can,” said Angela Boggus.

But some see the punishment as excessive. Neighbors have reported the family to the Valencia County Sheriff’s Department and CYFD. Deputies say they’ve been out to the home three times in the past few weeks, including a visit Friday, and don’t see anything illegal regarding the punishment.

“It’s not like he’s been banished out to the mesa a hundred miles away from civilization,” said Chief Deputy Gary Hall.

It may not be illegal but the court of public opinion is divided on the punishment.

“It’s an awful thing to do to a human being,” said a neighbor.

“If you do something wrong there are consequences. There’s cause and there’s effect,” said Neighbor Jonathan Cox.

If you’re judging the parents, they say they’re open to suggestions.

“Anybody who wants to talk some sense into him is more than welcome. We’re not trying to hide from this,” said Jacob Boggus.

The teen has been living in the tent for the past two weeks. His parents say the punishment will last a month, unless he completes five book reports, meant to teach him about being a respectable man.

CYFD says they can’t comment on this specific case but the Sheriff’s Office says CYFD has not ordered deputies to take any action.