September 9-15 is Suicide Prevention Week. I wrote the following poem to talk about the elephant in the room — the stigma attached to mental illness.
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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