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Shocking or Brilliant? 11 Examples of Public Shaming As Punishment

By joslyngray |

Public shaming of kids and teens has been all over the news lately, from a laptop-shooting dad to a mom frustrated by her son’s repeated criminal activity.

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?

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Parents, Courts Use Public Shaming as Discipline

Dad Forces 'Disrespectful' Teen to Wear Sign as Punishment for School Suspension

May 2012: North Carolina dad Donnell Bryant made his 15-year-old daughter Quandria carry a sign outside her school after being suspended for being disrespectful to her teachers. Mr. Bryant also had Quandria make a public apology to her teachers. The sign read “I have a bad attitude and am disrespectful to people who try to help me” and was easily visible by students leaving school by bus or on foot.
(Photo Credit: ABC News)

Read more from Joslyn at her blog stark. raving. mad. mommy. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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About joslyngray

joslyngray

joslyngray

Joslyn Gray is the mother of four children with a variety of challenges ranging from allergies to ADHD to Asperger Syndrome. She writes candidly and comedically about this and her generally hectic life on her light-hearted personal blog, stark. raving. mad. mommy.. Read bio and latest posts → Read joslyngray's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “Shocking or Brilliant? 11 Examples of Public Shaming As Punishment

  1. Lori Nicholas says:

    I haven’t gotten all the way through this yet but #2 is awesome!!

  2. Vincent Iannelli, MD says:

    Even if it ‘works,’ I can’t imagine that this is the best way to handle these issues. What is the long term effects for the child?

    It would be interesting to check in on all of these families in six months and a year and see how they are doing and compare them with 11 kids who did similar things and had more traditional discipline.

  3. Marge says:

    I certainly can’t judge other’s parenting choices. How many of us have endured the judgmental stares of others during public meltdowns? Until you walk in another parents shoes, you have no idea what their child and their life is like.

    Although, #2, I would have to say if you’re screaming profanities in an elementary school parking lot, I can probably guess why your 8 year old is out of control.

  4. Rosana says:

    I do not consider any of these cases (involving kids) child abuse. What puzzles me is what tactic did the parents use to make them stand outside holding a sign like that? I figure that a true disrespectful kid would have never agreed to do it.

  5. Marge says:

    Rosana, as a mother of a teen who went through two very bad years, I found ways to inflict consequences even during the most disrespectful times. We never did signs on street corners. We did hard labor. :) And she worked through the consequence. She balked but never refused.
    It is amazing how authority is maintained, Deep down, our children, even disrespectful teens, love their mothers. And when we say, “This is how we are going to make this situation right.” they understand. Especially when we’ve taken away their internet access, ipod, etc.

  6. mandym says:

    The only one a disagree with was the last one… Did the parents try tutoring, study time, designating a specific home work time each day? instead of having your kid work the corner wearing the sign, maybe you should have him work the library it will propably get better results without damaginf his self esteem or self worth.

  7. Typhanie says:

    I have an Oppositional Defiant child, parenting her is seemingly impossible. Society these days gives kids a full course on what their rights are without informing them what are their responsibilities. The fact that so many parents are choosing to use this as a consequence, speaks volumes to the fact that parents have no resources left to deal with their children’s out of control behaviour. I proudly stand behind each of these parents. I can completely understand the feeling of frustration, I am not sure yelling at the kids while wearing these signs adds any other bonus other than escalating frustration on both counts. I one hundred percent think that the kids standing with these signs, obliges them to accept responsibility for their own actions. And hey, if judges think it is acceptable, I really don’t see a problem. Their behaviour is the shameful act, why shouldn’t they be ashamed of what THEY have done? Enough with parents being frowned at and tsk tsked after being through the run with their child and they having to bear all the shame of their kids behaviour!

  8. Bonnie says:

    The only one I really have a problem with is the last one. However that is not knowing if the child has been put through evaluation to rule out disorders/disabilities that contribute to poor grades.

  9. Linda, T.O.O. says:

    I don’t find these “shocking” or “brilliant” just ugly and completely ignorant, the same as I find anyone who would support this kind of crap.

  10. Rosana says:

    That is exactly my point Marge. If parents were able to come together with their kids decide/implement the punishment, why couldn’t they do the same earlier to find out what is the kid going through. I think kids have reasons to misbehave (they do not just wake up on day and decide that they are going to get in trouble) If these kids were able to listen and agree to the punishment, I am sure there is an open channel for communication that needs to be used more often and for more positive reasons.

  11. jenny tries too hard says:

    I think it’s awful and counter-productive. Holding children up to public ridicule is just going to turn them into humiliated, self-loathing adults. People who can’t respect and like themselves are often the ones who continue to engage in behaviors that are bad for society and themselves. Embarrassment can be *part of* a consequence for bad behavior, if it occurs naturally as part of the logical consequence and making the other person whole…like, if a kid steals from a relative, requiring that the child apologize in person is embarrassing but necessary. But humiliation should never be the goal. I’d also be concerned that a kid could kind of lose the appropriate embarrassment response and stop caring about how others see him/her entirely.

  12. Jess says:

    Rosana obviously hasn’t raised a teenager.

  13. Danielle says:

    I love creative parenting! I would hope these signs were a last resort though.

  14. anon says:

    Way to go parents! It’s nice to see some parents teaching their kids to be responsible for their actions.

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