Does Public Shaming Teach Kids or Scar Them?

Some parents think public discipline works when other methods fail, but many feel public shaming is just parental bullying. What do you think?

Patch file photo
Patch file photo

A 12-year-old boy in Spring, TX, is the latest child to gain unwanted attention from unique punishments.

Dylan had to stand on a street corner in a Houston suburb for three hours with a sign that read, “I was suspended from school for cussing out my teacher," USA Today reported Friday.

A close family friend said the punishment was because Dylan had cussed at two teachers on two separate occasions. She made the sign with the blessing of the boy’s mother and then sent him to stand on the street corner for three hours.

USA cataloged several other instances of children being publicly disciplined—from an 8-year-old girl who had to wear a shirt that read “I steal” to a 15-year-old who had to hold a sign that said she sneaks out with boys.

But many parents are appalled by such public shaming. On Tuesday, blogger Heidi Stone described watching an acquaintance who “ranted and railed in a fit of maternal frustration and helplessness” at her teenaged son. Stone said she resolved at that moment to never shame her public in child again. 

“Public shaming is awful and is nothing less than societally sanctioned parental bullying,” she wrote. “Especially harmful to the young people against whom it is used as a weapon, the ramifications will resonate throughout their lives. They aren't as tough as we pretend we are.”

Patch wants to know what you think. Does public shaming teach recalcitrant children lessons when other methods fail? Or is it just bullying that leaves emotional scars? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Mike B. January 21, 2014 at 11:03 AM
Public shaming is an equally good idea for adult criminals as well... in addition to jail/prison time.
Donald Lee January 21, 2014 at 12:22 PM
Ultimately, we are social creatures. There are few incentives more powerful than the urge to be accepted. We all want the approval of those around us, and will go to great lengths to get it. "Public shaming" can take many forms, and some are so clumsy as to be terribly misguided, but there is no doubt that the approval of others is a powerful motivator.
Roy Roscoe January 21, 2014 at 02:39 PM
Parenting is, in part, walking a tightrope between building pride, confidence and self esteem on one side and tearing down haughtiness and arrogance on the other. It's not accomplished with one event but a process with many examples.
Donald Lee January 21, 2014 at 03:03 PM
Well put. This is one reason "advice" is often so bad. You can recommend actions, but often the spirit and tone of the actions are more important, and those are often hard to describe, much less teach.
Eric Anondson January 26, 2014 at 12:55 PM
Parenting is about preparing your kids for the world, not protecting them from it. There is a difference between shaming and bullying. When it I crosses to bullying it I has crossed a bright red line, but not all shaming is bullying. Not being able to see this distinction is a bad thing for a parent, seeing all shaming as bullying, and seeing nothing wrong with bullying their child, both equally harmful to kids.


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