Parents in Australia are up in arms after a mother made her ten-year-old son wear a sign in a public park that read “Do not trust me. I will steal from you as I am a thief.”
The single mother of three, now known Down Under as the “Tough Love Mum”, says her son has been shoplifting since he was seven years old and that she has done everything she can to get him to stop, including having him speak with police, taking him to counseling and taking him to visit a juvenile detention center. She decided to make him wear the sign after finding he had stolen some chocolates from a store. She made him stand in a busy area called The Strand for an hour, during which some passersby pointed and laughed at him.
Australia’s Herald Sun newspaper reports, “The mum’s actions made headlines, becoming the No.1 story on websites and dominating talkback radio from Melbourne to Townsville, where the family live. Her parenting style simultaneously appalled and inspired parents around the nation. A surprisingly large number of people praised her and called for the cane to be reintroduced. Many also sympathised with her.”
Yet some child psychologists say the public shaming was a mistake. The Townsville Bulletin, which first broke the story, quoted a local child psychologist, Nicole Pierotti, who said she was “… shocked that this form of punishment could be used. This gives the child the message they should be sneakier. He’s learning ‘don’t get caught’. It also makes you wonder what else goes on in the family.”
In a Herald Sun opinion piece, Melbourne talk radio host Steve Price also disagreed with the punishment, writing, “This family need help from experts, but the person who requires the most help is the mother who thought it acceptable to ridicule her flesh and blood in public. She should be embarrassed and maybe she’s the one who needs a sign hung around her neck. Instead of saying ‘I am a thief’ it could read ‘I am a bad mother’.”
So what do you think? Was this mom right to take drastic measures and make her son wear the sign so that he might learn his lesson? Or was this a big mistake, and will it only serve to hurt him even further?
Photo credit: The Daily Herald