When clever discipline becomes child abuse

Remember the story a few months ago about the 15-year old  girl who was forced to get up in front of the whole school and announce that she was pregnant? Or the 14-year old boy whose parents forced him to stand on the street with a sign declaring that he’d receive Fs on his report card?

New research is just now confirming what most sane parents already knew: humiliating punishments actually do more harm than good. And that’s certainly the case with the newest entries into the “it-seemed-like-a-clever-idea-at-the-time” category of parental stupidity.

Child sitting in a corner

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The bully pulpit

This whole bullying thing is out of control. Every day thousands of kids in the US cut school because they’re afraid of bullies. Tens of thousands more are literally sick over it, with symptoms like stomach problems, anxiety, and depression, just to name a few. And some—you’ve probably read about the cases—have actually committed suicide.

Statistics on how many kids are bullied are hard to pin down for several reasons. First, it’s hard to define. Is teasing someone “bullying”? A kindergartener in New Jersey was the subject of a bullying investigation after he said that another child had cooties. To call that bullying diminishes the seriousness of the problem.
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We really need to do something to stop bullies

Remember not all that long ago when people would talk about how bullies are just acting out or that they themselves were the victims of someone else’s bullying? Turns out that isn’t true. Some kids (not mine, of course, or yours) are just mean.

With kids spending more and more time online, it’s increasingly hard to protect them from bullies. It used to be that bullies would have to be in same place as their victims. But no longer. I’m sure you’ve read the tragic stories about kids who’ve committed suicide after being bullied online.

Even if you trust our children completely, you can’t control for what other people are going to do. A few years back, one my daughters–an incredibly responsible, clear-thinking girl–was being bullied through Facebook and a few other places. We eventually figured out who was doing it and came down hard (not hard enough, in my view–that little punk should have gone to jail). But it was still a traumatic experience.

A recent article from the Birmingham Patch (Michigan) cites stats from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Safe and Drug-Free Schools: more than 13 million American kids will be bullied this year, making it the most common form of violence experienced by young people in the United States.

More info and some excellent resources here: http://birmingham.patch.com/articles/panel-urges-parents-educators-and-kids-to-stand-up-against-bullying