There seems to be a new way of punishing children publicly that is deeply disturbing to me. It’s called Public Humiliation or Public Shaming and it goes beyond having a child stand on a street corner holding a sign that describes their transgression. Children are being filmed getting their hair chopped off, being “spanked” for “acting grown”… the list is endless. When children act out, I agree that there needs to be punishment and consequences for the action. However, I believe that publicly shaming a child is humiliating and sets them up to be bullied; it creates a digital footprint which can come up later in adulthood- therefore violating their privacy; and it’s self-serving on behalf of the parents who seem to have something to prove.
Parents have the right to raise and discipline their child however they see fit. That being said, even with the best intentions in mind, posting the punishment on Facebook and YouTube only serves to deepen their embarrassment. Although it may deter the child from repeating the action they committed, they now have to deal with being teased and worse bullied at school. This damages the child’s already fragile self-esteem and awkwardness. Sure, the lesson was learned, but at what cost?
The ripple effect of these videos will be felt beyond their childhood. EVERYTHING that is posted on the web STAYS ON THE WEB—forever. Once it goes ‘viral’ after your friends and family share it, it’s out of your child’s hands. What you thought was a punishment is now a life sentence to remind them over and over again what a bad child they were (or are). My parents had seven children and we got our behinds spanked often enough. My siblings and I sit around and tell our kids some of the most outrageous things we did and described those spankings. The best thing about that is we can share them privately, laugh, and teach a lesson at the same time. Children who are ‘virally’ punished do not have that option. Their professors and employers may stumble across those videos one day and thereby strip away the professional demeanor that kid(now grown) cultivated through hard work. Their privacy is gone and now their colleagues will look at them differently.
I admit that I used to think that it was creative and innovative to have a child holding a sign as punishment but now, I’m not so sure if that or any form of public punishment is a good idea. So, the child did a bad thing and they need to be punished. WHY DOES THE WORLD NEED TO SEE IT? I’m not convinced that there’s a pure motive here. The child is humiliated, it’s posted on social media and all of a sudden, the likes, shares, and comments explode through the WebSphere. The parent gets the kudos—the “atta boys”—for being a great progressive parent and they swell with pride. They’ve showed their child who is boss and now the world knows that he/she is the best parent ever because he/she “don’t take no mess.” Mom or Dad gets to show complete irrelevant strangers that they don’t care what anyone thinks because THIS is how they “handle my parental business.” It’s a bit of an oxymoron because they posted it, therefore they actually do care what others think. They’re just hoping that the ‘likes’ and comments ‘for’ will outweigh the naysayers. That makes it a selfish form of child abuse.
It is far better to drill into children how the Internet works. Just as important as ABC’s, today’s children (and parents) must also learn that anything posted on the web will follow them for the rest of their lives. It doesn’t matter if it’s been deleted from your social network accounts. Once it’s out there and someone else copies and shares it, there is no taking it back. Children have a right to privacy and an embarrassment-free future. Their punishment should not be a degrading life sentence.
Reference – common YouTube searches of extreme punishment:
“Mom catches daughter having sex, beats her…”
“Father whoops on daughter dressed like Beyoncé …”
“Mother Jacks Her Son’s Hair Up For Acting Bad In School!”
Question: Is this a healthy way to raise a child? Why or why not?
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