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Public Shaming and Punishment of a Child

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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?Public punishment

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?

Bill Cosby: Villain or Victim? A Different Point of View

Bill Cosby

 

There’s a resurgence of rape allegations against Dr. Bill Cosby—complete with a new ever-growing cast of victims. As the Black community builds a cocoon of support around him, there’s a disturbing backlash against his accusers—who happen to be white women. Rape (and other forms of sexual assault) is a seriously under-reported crime in the United States. Because of that, our response to these accusations must proceed with great caution and attempts to make this a racial issue should be restrained—at least for now.

Bill Cosby is not new to allegations of sexual assault. Andrea Constand –the only woman to file formal charges—came forward in 2005 alleging a 2004 sexual assault. In support of Ms. Constand, Barbara Bowman and 13 anonymous others came forward in 2005 with reports that they too, were assaulted by the actor/comedian/author/producer/activist. Although the DA did not have enough evidence to charge him in a criminal case, Bill Cosby settled out of court with her in 2006.

It’s extremely distressing (especially in the Black community) to think that our beloved “America’s Dad” could be capable of such repeated heinous acts. As a man who has accomplished a lifetime of accolades and who has been a beacon for Blacks both on screen and off, it’s hard for us to wrap our heads around these accusations. But as a responsible societal member, we must not be quick to vilify the women who’ve come forward.

I watched Don Lemon interview one of Cosby’s accuser’s, Joan Tarshis, on CNN (via YouTube) the other day. When asked why she did not come forward after the alleged assaults, she said: “Who’s going to believe me? Bill Cosby, the All American Dad, the All American Husband, Mr. Jell-O that everybody loves…who would believe me?” One YouTube commentator correctly noted that he didn’t do the Jell-O ads until 1974 and the Cosby show even later than that—in 1984. But this isn’t a chronological memory. This is an all-encompassing image of Bill Cosby that perhaps she, over the course of many years, struggled with while dealing with what allegedly happened to her. Put into perspective, there was a six-year passage of time between the supposed assault and his first Jell-O commercial. During this period, “Hey, Hey, Hey…It’s Fat Albert” ran as a primetime special (in 1969, the year of the alleged assault) and, later in 1972, “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” was becoming one of the best cartoons of the 70s. Cosby’s star was continually on the rise. One can’t help but wonder how many times over that 6-year period she wanted to say something to her own mother– who was crazy about this man. Sexual assault is not a cut and dry crime. Nor is the way victims respond to it.

According to the Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN), 60% of all rapes are NOT reported. Even more distressing 97% of abusers never see the inside of a prison. Deep shame and embarrassment are among reasons victims do not come forward. Some are so traumatized they bury the assault for years until something triggers flashbacks. Others, as in the case of Dr. Cosby’s accusers, are victims of people in power (whether perceived or real). It is not uncommon for people to come forward 10, 20, or 30 years after an assault.

It’s an insult and a disservice to victims everywhere when we insult and bully them in the media or any forum. There may very well be recent victims who are now terrified to come forward. Fifteen plus women alleging sexual assault can no longer be ignored. This is an unfortunate “lose-lose” situation for all involved and has already become a hot Black/White issue on social media.

He’s not the only TV dad to disappoint us. Actor Stephen Collins of 7th Heaven confessed to being a child molester to his wife—who recorded and released the confession to the media. Collins, a white, actor is also being destroyed in the media (rightly so since he verbally confessed!). Now some will say that there’s a clear difference between the two however, sexual abuse is still a forceful criminal act—both disgusting and disturbing. Collins admitted his crime verbally whereas Cosby could very well have admitted it by settling out of court with Ms. Constand.

Sexual predators have a type. For Collins it’s children. Perhaps for Cosby, it’s young and impressionable white women. Money is power and money talks and let’s face it, Bill Cosby has plenty of both. Remember the accusations lobbied against priests in the Catholic churches? Grown men in their 30s and 40s were among those who came forward to speak out about their sexual abusers. Their allegations were also well beyond the legal statutes of limitations. Are their claims less valid because they didn’t come forward immediately?

There are facts that cannot be disputed at this point. He paid Shawn Upshaw $100,000 to keep her quiet about an affair they had in the 70s. He settled a sexual abuse lawsuit with Andrea Constand. It begs the question “How many silences has he bought to protect his image?” Everyone has secrets and this man is no exception.

Is this a modern-day ‘lynching’ of Bill Cosby? I hope not. Has my opinion of him changed? I can’t look at him and not wonder. Before we give in to our urgent desire to defend Bill Cosby, my position is that we wait and see how the rest of this story unfolds before we yell racism. Why? Because there are thousands of unreported and late reported rapes every year and when these men, women, and children step forward, someone has to believe them.

©2014Kim R. Woods all rights reserved

Modern Day Orphans

There’s an unfortunate segment of parenting which creates what I call orphans.  The definition of orphan:  a child who has lost either parents through death, or, less commonly, one parent.  For the sake of this article, I speak of orphans created because both parents are alive and ABSCENT from their children’s lives on a daily basis. When I say “absent parenting” it means either the parent (mother and/or father) are either with the child on a daily basis but is not providing guidance and structure, or the child is living with relatives and neither parent is physically present on a daily basis to provide guidance and structure.

I personally know of at least 2 separate instances of this strange phenomenon in which both parents are not physically with their children.  In both cases the fathers are already not involved on a daily basis with the children because they have relationships and families; the mothers have left their children in the care of relatives and are living in another location—or out of state for weeks and months at a time.  Sometimes the siblings are living in separate homes as they wait for a parent to come back for them.  This is extremely detrimental to our communities.

A child needs attention, nurturing, and guidance every day from at least one consistent parent.  When both parents are gone through choices of their own, the child is left with painful unanswered questions.  One of which is “why doesn’t mom/dad want me?”   Now, some will say that the parents are away so they can find jobs and send for their children and that would be a reasonable response.  The problem with that is often even when one or both parents are physically present they fall into the other category of being ‘at home’ with the child but still not providing much needed guidance and structure.  Either way, it’s a lose-lose situation for the child.

They don’t provide the child with consistent rules: be home by 4, homework before play, chores, or bed time.  Children aren’t being taught values such as honesty, hard work, and respect. The result is a hurt, angry, and broken child who eventually becomes rebellious to the point of self-destruction which will eventually spill into the community.

Our children are the most precious commodity we can ever produce.  They don’t come with instructions, but with the wealth of information available at our fingertips today on the internet, parents today can do better.  Here are some common sense tips:

  • Don’t be selfish. Your life is no longer your—it’s the child’s.
  • Teach them their colors and ABC’s while they are still in diapers. They will be better prepared for school.
  • Hang up the party shoes. If you had a child in your teens (like I did), it’s a real bummer but again- it’s not about you  It took me a whole year to learn that one and unfortunately, there’re adults who still haven’t.
  • Give them guidance. Teach them respect.  Nail that and the rest will come easier
  • Give them structure. Bed time—as in a time they need to be in bed (with stories), curfews, and discipline (not abuse!!)
  • If you are the NON-custodial parent and distance is a problem, SPEAK TO YOUR CHILD DAILY. Even if it’s to say “good morning” and “good night, I love you”. Stay connected.
  • Don’t abandon them! They need to see and be with you EVERY DAY.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking that your extremely bright and gifted child is “mature” and “knows better”.  He/she needs you.

You may not realize it but when you leave your children for days and weeks at a time, you are neglecting their growth and development.  You’ve orphaned them. And that is truly selfish.

 

Babies In the Battlefield

Babies on the Battlefield

Babies in the battlefield

 

A war is ablaze within our midst destroying all that we hold dear

Bullets are flying everywhere, leaving imminent death and tears

Little casualties are unaware that they are caught in the quagmire

They have no captain to lead them and no guns with which to return fire

 

The casualties of this war are many – there are no bullet-proof shields

There is a clear and present danger for our babies on the battlefield

Not fully grown and yet their lives are diminished much too soon

Because of cowards who hide behind guns – full of anger all consuming

 

To them life has no meaning – they just aim and pull the trigger

When they miss their target, an innocent life goes out with a final flicker

Their assassins’ hearts are cold—with souls devoid of the capacity to feel

And then we are left with the lifeless bodies of our babies on the battlefield

 

After all, selling dope and making money is the most important thing

Shootouts to guard posse and turf outweighs the decimation they bring

They build empires off the flesh and blood of our dying communities

Then spend all the money and die without leaving an enduring legacy

 

The pain they cause just to prove affiliation to a group of spineless cowards

So weak minded they lack the mettle to fight without guns and crowds

Our children pay the ultimate price – they did not chose this life

But for gangs, drugs, and money, they get to pay the ultimate price

 

Our brave soldiers are sent overseas to fight for other lands’ rights to be free

But here at home the war intensifies and cowards are claiming our babies

Terrorism runs rampant and no one seems to be doing anything

People continue to die as dope lords become their puppet kings

 

Multimillion-dollar prisons are erected to fight the ‘war on drugs’

Instead of using it for education and preventing kids from becoming thugs

Who, then breed more generations of children who kill to achieve ‘juice’ status

As they slaughter each other on barren fields warring against enemy factions

 

Communities are held hostage because no one wants to be labeled a squealer

But they blame law enforcement because they can’t catch the killers and dealers

The tragedy of individual apathy is the reason our children are dying daily

Slamming doors to law enforcement only allows crime to thrive and prevail

 

The rate at which our babies perish is painfully surreal

Our own black men are killing babies on the battlefield

This plight will end when we stop pretending the solution is not in our hands

So stand up tall and make the call that will heal our bleeding lands

Communities will become strong, violence ends, and we can begin to heal

And no longer will our babies perish on the battlefield

 

 

©2012 Kim Rosemon-Woods

All rights reserved