Public Shaming and the Suicide of a Child

Isabel Laxamana

Once again public shaming has reared its ugly head- this time with disastrous results.  The latest victim is 13-year-old Izabel Laxamana – a student at a Tacoma Washington middle school .

We seem to forget what it was like to be a child. I wasn’t a bad child but I did challenge my parents and was punished accordingly. As with most kids it ebbs and flows until the time comes when both parent and child “survive” this thing called parenthood.  I also had insecurities that are normal to most children.  13-year-olds (boys and girls) deal with issues such as weight, acne, clothing styles, the opposite sex, and yes- hair. They are entering the age of discovery and self-awareness.

So is it really a shock that a young beautiful girl with long thick flowing locks – in the beginning of discovering herself- would become devastated and suicidal after not only losing her hair, but having the event put in public display?

It truly begs the questions -why are parents so eager and willing to humiliate their children? Why has this become a new “tool” in parenting?  What are they trying to prove and to whom are they attempting to prove it to? How is this helping the child to correct behavior and more importantly, is the possible psychological and self-esteem damage worth the risk?

Apparently for Izabel Laxamana, the risk was far greater than the reward. Because we now live in an advanced technological society, her parents felt the best way to punish her was to chop off her hair and post it online.

This isn’t “punishment”- its cruelty.  It’s a form of cruelty that not every child can handle and I’m willing to guess that most children can’t handle it.  That is why this young girl -in the beginnings of her youth and self-discovery- climbed onto a bridge and without hesitation, jumped to her death.

There is no doubt that as her parents mourn her death, the “likes” and kudos are up ticking on YouTube and Facebook as yet another progressive salute to a great punishment strategy. So now I’m compelled to ask again, do you still think public humiliation/shaming is a good way to punish a child?  If you still feel this way, then shame on you.

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One thought on “Public Shaming and the Suicide of a Child

  1. Parents should never resort to abusive tactics like shaming. I understand they are angry but they are the adults. As to the why, I think it’s both simple and complex. Spanking, grounding, control of finances were the traditional parents toolbox for many many years. Spanking is now off limits, considered abusive, and can land a parent in court/jail. Refusing to pay for things like college used to be a very popular way to keep children on the straight and narrow but now that can also land a parent in court. You can’t ground a teenager with no physical means to enforce the punishment and most parents lack the time needed to enforce a grounding anyway soooo .. Our society has taken these things away from parents and since most parents have no idea what else to do and no time to learn alternatives, they fall to humiliation as an acceptable means of stopping what they view as bad behavior. Most parents today are clueless how to go about controlling, molding, disciplining their kids so they either do nothing and leave the kids with no direction whatsoever or they resort to negative things like shaming.

    I do not use humiliation with my children, life is hard enough and getting harder all the time from the time they were small we have approached parenting as a “we’re in this together” thing. I admit that my parenting was mostly winging it, but it seems to be working. I do not expect perfection and I am not perfect. We talk, a lot. We try to figure out ways to compromise on areas of disagreement and we try to build from our mistakes instead of allowing them to define us. By the time a young person is thirteen they should be allowed a real input into their life and decisions regarding it. Choices and the experience of real logical consequences to those choices are the key to growing up.

    I have ten kids, by the way. None of them have ever been in any real trouble, most of them are grown and through college. Treating your children like actual people and respecting their opinions enough to actually listen and consider their point of view really does work.

    If you find this comment to be too long, feel free to delete it. I know I got a little too into the subject matter.

    Liked by 1 person

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