Do you think publicly embarrassing kids is a good way to keep them in line? Research suggests putting children on blast may actually do more harm than good.
When I was a teacher, I witnessed one of my seventh graders get pimp slapped in front of the class by his father. It was the last period of the day and I was tired of him being disruptive, so I called his parents, which usually got most kids in line (albeit briefly). That day, I hoped my student’s parents would deal with him and hopefully convince him to change his behavior, but I wasn’t expecting him to get slapped in the middle of the classroom…in front of everyone.
I was stunned, he was mortified, but his behavior didn’t change.
I dunno about you, but I would have been DEVASTATED had that happened to me. I would have withdrawn, been pissed off at my parents, and maybe stopped talking all together….but it had the opposite effect on my student. Instead of getting himself together because he’d been embarrassed in front of his friends, he kept talking, kept being disruptive, and kept trying to prove he wasn’t a punk because his dad smacked him down in front of the class.
I was reminded of this incident after hearing a Florida mom was arrested earlier this week after her daughter showed up at school sporting a white t-shirt with a message about her failing grades scrawled across the front. According to officials, the middle schooler also had visible bruises from an “excessive” beating by her mother, Melany Alexander, and a threat for more if she didn’t get her act together.
Alexander is being held without bond, but her form of “discipline” isn’t unique.
Publicly shaming children, especially on social media, is nothing new. If you’re on Facebook you’ve probably seen a picture of a young boy with his hair cut to look like an old man’s receding hairline. The message? Stop acting grown.
Back in 2012, a North Carolina dad made national news when he filmed himself pumping bullets into his daughter’s laptop after the teen went on an expletive-filled Facebook rant about her parents. Last year, a video of dad viciously beating his teen daughter for allegedly running away to hang out with boys went viral. Many gave the dad props for teaching the young woman a lesson, but between the hair pulling and name-calling, all I saw was abuse.
As a parent, I understand why some attempt to shame their children into acting right. Many times they’re frustrated and embarrassed by their children’s actions. And sometimes they just don’t know what else to do.
At times, parenting feels impossibly hard, but using shame as a discipline tactic just doesn’t work either.