Public Shaming of Our Children

bigstock-trust-family-hands-of-child-so-27258686This is one of those things I feel very strongly about. Public shaming of children, in my opinion, is nothing other than publicity gathering by parents or caregivers who seek widespread approval for their parenting style.

People screw up make mistakes, that is a simple fact of life. Many of us had the blessing of growing up in a time when there was no internet. The Internet can be such a blessing curse. It allows us to network with people from around the world; it allows us access to accurate information as well as complete garbage. If you have been on the ‘inter webs’ I am sure you have seen the click-bait ’20 most shocking photos from the past’ etc. Along with the access to information which has made science fair so much easier for parents kids, we have to admit a darker side. Where kids, once upon a time, had  news of their screw ups not go much further than their neighborhood, it can now be spread via viral news all over the world. And some parents/caregivers think that this is a marvelous idea. Insta fame for parents, who publicly shame their kid not only with a cardboard sign of the deed but also an uploaded video to share far and wide. And in some cases this is even then picked up by news stations, sometimes even national ones to share and crow over.

Now don’t get me wrong, children should experience unpleasant consequences for their actions. But they should experience those in the frame of their family or immediate community, essentially within in the scope of the deed. I cannot imagine any deed short of murder which would deserve public shaming of a child. And even then, the faces aren’t shown and the child protected to some extent. A boy in my daughter’s high school  class committed fratricide early this summer. The community did not spread the image of the boy far and wide, so why would we do this when a child racks up a large telephone bill or doesn’t clean up her room?

I was about five years old when I took some candy from my neighbor’s candy jar without permission. My mother made me go and confess to our neighbor and the consequences of my actions were that I had to babysit entertain her six month old daughter for an hour every afternoon for a week or something like that. The scope of the ‘publicity’ went as far as the people involved. When my neighbor’s child reached through my fence and stole some tulips and daffodils some years ago, there were no consequences for the child of a preacher. The mother came to me and told me why the child did it (to bring her flowers), but that was it. The child never apologized to me, there were no consequences. A parenting fail in my opinion. Would I, however, have preferred a public shaming? Absolutely not!

We must allow our children the security of knowing that they can learn about their world, their responsibilities, and relationships, within the privacy and safety of their home and family. Children deserve the ability to make mistakes within the safety net of their home and family, and in my opinion, publicly shaming kids leads to nothing other than a painful breach of trust which possibly could never heal.

When we raise kids we will come across the situations where we feel at wits end. The child has again and again shown poor judgement and ignored our words. But a public spectacle will only teach the child one thing. To not trust you, to avoid confiding in you, and to avoid you at all possible cost. What worse thing could possibly happen?

Put that camera away, and start parenting the old fashioned way. Be involved. And remember that parenting and teaching our children about cause and effect start when they are toddlers. If you try and start that when they are troublesome challenging teens, you have already lost the war, let alone the battle. No matter how challenging your teen, remember this, if they have strong roots thanks to involved, loving, and good parenting, they will come back to that. I promise….


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