Social media plays a huge role in the lives of individuals across the world. Unfortunately, it has become a common trend for parents to publicly shame their child on social media. For example, there are stories of parents publicly shaming their child or children on issues such as bad grades, breaking parental rules, ditching school, etc. just to name a few. In some of these viral videos parents appear livid because of their child’s offense, often seen berating that child, and at times using profanity or laughing while shaming. Because of the public shaming act, the child or children often lay helplessly on the ground, sobbing uncontrollably, terrified, humiliated, and in utter disbelief that the act of public shaming took place, is recorded and will be shared online. Was publicly shaming the child worth it? There are some parents who may state that it was worth it and it ‘served their child right!’ and the act of publicly shaming their child will serve as a deterrent from committing another offense.
However, there was a viral video about a father who refused to shame his son on social media for misbehaving in school because he believed that he, the father, committing an act of public shaming using social media on his son, will be far more emotionally and psychologically damaging to his son because his son views him as a protector. The father also stated that publishing a video of this nature and it lingering in cyberspace will ruin his son’s future when pursuing a higher education and employment. Instead, the father stated he rather have a heart to heart, face to face talk with his son about his behavior and discipline him by prohibiting video game privileges for a period of time-his son’s favorite activity.
In her article Shaming Children Is Emotionally Abusive, licensed marriage and family therapist, Karyl McBride, PhD states “Shaming and humiliating children is emotionally abusive. It is not ok to smack children physically or with words. Young people deserve and are entitled to reach out, attach and bond with their caretakers.” Furthermore, Dr. McBride states “Shaming and humiliation causes fear in children. This fear does not go away when they grow up. It becomes a barrier for a healthy emotional life and is difficult to eradicate. If these same children become parents, the possibility also exists that the fear and negativity can be unwittingly passed through the generations.”
In a society where social media is readily available for the next post by a tap of the finger; becoming familiar with the reporting policy of social networking sites is helpful and important in the event of witnessing inappropriate or abusive material. Contacting elected officials to address this issue could also end this trend and hold parents accountable for their actions. There are many resources available online on effective parenting and locating parent support groups.
Additional reading resource: Lauren M. Goldman, Trending Now: The Use of Social Media Websites In Public Shaming Punishments, American Criminal Law Review, 52 Am. Crim. Law. Rev. 415 (2015).
Reference: McBride, K. (2012, Sept 10) Shaming Children Is Emotionally Abusive. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-legacy-distorted-love/201209/shaming-children-is-emotionally-abusive
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Aneeta Pearson, MSW, MS
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