When I interviewed parents, educators, and a counselor for a separate post about this, responses were mixed: many parents sympathized with the parents, and found public shaming to be an acceptable, if last resort, form of discipline. Others, including the counselor, said it was both inappropriate and ineffective.
What shocked me, in my research, was the range of sins committed by kids that resulted in public shaming. As I delved deeper, I found that in some cases, I could totally understand the parents’ motives. In other situations, it seemed way over the line.
Is stealing a good reason to shame a teenager? How much do they have to steal for it to be appropriate? What if a grown-up steals? What if a grown-up steals from kids?
How young is too young for this type of punishment? Fifteen? Thirteen? One girl was eight.
Is it okay for kids but not for adults? Or okay for adults but not for kids? A woman convicted of embezzling over $10,000 from a local high school’s booster club was forced to wear a sign that said “I stole from kids” (plus two months’ jail time). Two other women agreed to wear signs saying “I stole from a 9-year-old on her birthday” to avoid jail time after being found guilty of using two Walmart cards they found in the store that the girl had misplaced.
Where should the line be drawn? Take a look at these examples. Which ones make sense to you?