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 age of public humiliation — Has it really come to this?

A few hundred years ago, thieves, vandals, and other petty criminals were publicly humiliated by being put in the stocks (picture below) where they were passers-by pelted them with eggs and rotten vegetables. And of course there’s Hester Pryne, the adulteress in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, who was forced to wear a red A on her dress to announce her crime to everyone who saw her.

But a full decade into the 21st century, we’re back to publicly humiliating people.

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