Public Shaming Isn't the Worst Way to Discipline a Kid


Shrek EarsIn Australia people are outraged because a mother made her pilfering 10-year-old son wear a pair of Shrek ears and a sign that read, "Do not trust me. I will steal from you as I am a thief." Passersby were shocked; one even called the child safety hot line because the boy looked so embarrassed.

Diane Mayers, the woman who made the call, told The Telegraph, "A lot of people walked past and were laughing at him, including boys who would have been his age." And that warrants cries of abuse? Not in my book. While the Shrek ears are a bit strange, and it's not something that should be a first resort for discipline, if nothing else is working, I don't think public shaming is the worst thing a parent can do. Some judges have implemented similar techniques, and it's definitely more responsible than just ignoring the behavior when it won't stop.

According to the report, this mother, who hasn't been named, had tried everything to curb her son's thieving ways that have persisted for three years, even taking him to the police station and having them show him the cells and where he could one day wind up. When he recently stole some chocolate from a store, she said she decided to use the signs as a last resort.

I can't imagine getting to such a desperate place with one of my children. I like to think I never would, but if I did, I can't say I wouldn't do the same, or do almost anything to keep him or her from a life of crime. Sometimes time-outs and sweet, rationale reasoning just don't work, and if a little public humiliation does the trick, then I'd much rather see my kid suffer through that than visit them in prison someday. Some kids really need a tough wake-up call to make significant changes.

One comment Mayers overheard the mother making to the boy about the ears was disturbing. "Put them back on or I'll smack your head in," she reportedly told him, and that certainly raises some red flags about this particular case and perhaps speaks to why he's a repeat offender. But in general, if Shrek ears and a sign might help keep my thief of a kid from a life of crime, then let the humiliation begin.

If your kid was repeatedly stealing and nothing else worked, would you ever attempt public shaming as a discipline technique?

Image via nickstone333/Flickr


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Gigan... GigantaursMommy

I don't think public shaming is that terrible for older kids. Like you said, sometimes it's the only thing that's going to work.

momaof8 momaof8

I think it is wierd but not abuse

Iviemg Iviemg

WAY TO GO MOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Frogking Konfections

Absolutely. That is why when my four yr old took candy from a store, I march him to the manager, have him explain what he did, have him apologize and pay. I would, not doubt, use the sign and humilation on a kid who repeatedly did it and nothing else worked.

chris... chrismom0306

We are having serious problems with my step son. NOTHING is getting through to this kid. We even took him to police station also and the cop put him in the cell for 15 minutes and still NOTHING has changed!! Maybe I should buy some Shrek ears!! This Mom sounds like she was at the end of her rope and I totally understand!! I think her idea was a great and No i dont think it was child abuse!

tMariecW tMariecW

I think there is nothing wrong with this!!. I'm sure he will think twice about doing it again now that he has seen the punishment. Some kids need this.. not just kids but adults as well!


Megan Molina

I think kids have it bad enough with their peers & bullying, & I feel public shaming is just bullying from the parents, whatever the reason may be... Our job as the parent isn't to cause embarrassment for our kids, but protect them from that. I understand that the OP said nothing she had tried was working, but I'm sure this won't either. Abuse, not physically, but even MENTAL abuse is abuse. & that is what this is.

Brandy Putnam Popelka

I think she did the right thing. And just because she said she would smack his head in doesn't mean she would otherwise he wouldn't be wearing the Shrek ears and a sign saying I'm a theif. I definatly would and have used public humiliation. When you have talked till your blue in the face and done all the groundings you possibly could. SURE, PUBLIC HUMILIATION HERE I COME. I'm gonna tell you from my experience of using it IT WORKS WONDERS! My 15 yr old daughter has ended up learning more then one lesson that way when nothing else worked. YOU GO SHREK MOM

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