(Photo credit: AngryCommGuy/Imgur)Dunce caps seem like a harsh and antiquated way of making kids behave, but the public arena otherwise known as the Internet is bringing public shaming back into vogue as a means of discipline. On Sunday, a redditor called AngryCommGuy posted a picture titled "Mom Catches Daughter Cyberbullying," he says it was posted by a "surburban mom" on Facebook.
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The image shows a girl, who appears to be in her early teens, holding a sign and an iPod. The sign reads: "My name is Hailey. I am a kind, caring, smart girl, but I make poor choices with social media. As a punishment, I am selling my iPod and will be donating the money to the charity Beat Bullying, in hopes of changing my behavior as well as bringing awareness to Bullying. Because bullying is wrong."
In an era when even some judges are sentencing people to wear humiliating signs to atone for their crimes, this is only one of many incidents picked up by the media of parents using online shaming notes to reprimand their children. And apparently, it can be a powerfully aversive tool. In 2012, a Texas mom posted a photo of her 12-year-old daughter holding a shaming sign on Instagram as a punishment for displaying a selfie holding a bottle of vodka. The mother told ABC News, "She actually asked for a spanking instead; she begged for a spanking."
The redditor did not respond to Yahoo Shine's request for comment, but on the social sharing site, he further explained that the reaction to the photo on Facebook was "high fives all around." An argument can be made that the girl's mother is teaching her daughter a valuable lesson — and one that she will never forget — by showing her precisely what it feels like to be humiliated online. "Parenting! *Fist bump freeze in the air*" wrote one commenter. Another recalled, "When I was 6, my mom caught me bullying a kid for being poor/dirty. Made me wear the same unwashed outfit for a week. BAM! Empathy learned."
However, many other commenters are calling out the mom for cyberbullying herself. One asked, "How to teach your kid to not be a cyberbully: post a judgmental photo of her on the Internet so people can see how bad she is." Another added, "I think shaming your kids is horrific parenting and all the 'parenting: doing it right' replies [that] this kind of submission gets is very sad."
While the mother may have had good intentions, family therapist and parenting expert Karen Ruskin is concerned that by doing to the daughter what she did to another child, the cycle will continue. She tells Yahoo Shine that a parent is right to take action—she sees many parents who have a "not my kid" attitude when it comes to bullying—but she feels this kind of punishment both perpetuates the problem and doesn't teach a kid about real empathy. "Cyberbullying is psychologically hurting someone using social media. Now you are putting your daughter in a position where she is being shamed."
Ruskin says it would be more beneficial for everyone if the daughter went to the victim's house and apologized face-to-face: "Standing there with a note doesn't help the other person." While Ruskin feels that parents who use this type of punishment may mean well, they won't get the outcome they seek since they are contradicting their own message. "And giving her iPod to charity? I'd rather see her donate her time. One day, I'm certain, the daughter is going to get another iPod."
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