October is National Bullying Prevention month. If you have stories you’d like to see Patch cover, let us know in the comments.
Over this past week, there’s been a lot of talk about a father who punished his 9-year-old son for bullying by forcing him to stand by the side of a busy road with a large sign that read “I Am A Bully. Honk If You Hate Bullies.” In defending this parenting technique, the father, Jose Lagares, argued, “bullying is also a form of public humiliation. Maybe he understands that when he humiliates someone publicly that doesn't feel good.” Photos of the boy holding the sign have been splashed all over the Internet, after which thousands of parents LOL’d and Liked the humiliation on Facebook.
Lagares' story went viral, and so did the recent one about a mom who made her daughter wear a similar sign by the roadside for the offense of twerking at a school dance, and the story of a mom who updated her daughter’s Facebook page with the message “I do not know how to keep my [mouth shut]. I am no longer allowed on Facebook or my phone. Please ask why." And the father from North Carolina who put a bullet through his daughter’s laptop after she disrespected him on Facebook, and uploaded the episode to YouTube, ended up on national television.
Admittedly, these are extreme examples of public chastisement. But any parent who has ever posted a story about a child’s misdeeds and/or punishment on Facebook for the amusement of their friends should take note: studies reveal “that children whose parents used humiliation to discipline them grew up to be less confident and more prone to mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.” This sounds sadly similar to the impact bullying can have on a child. This toddler, whose head was shorn by her mom as a punishment for cutting her own bangs short, will probably be on Facebook one day too. (Or whatever follows Facebook.) The message being sent from her mom here is that it’s okay to broadcast the foibles of others for a laugh. It will probably be too late to unteach that lesson when she’s 13.
Where do you think the line should be drawn on using public humiliation as a punishment for kids? Tell us about it in the comments or in a blog post.