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Should Parents Use Public Humiliation as Discipline?

Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

 The Root's contributing editor Demetria L. Lucas, in a piece at Essence, contemplates the effectiveness of embarrassing teens to punish their missteps.

… A slideshow on the Chron news site depicts various children with brown hands holding signs announcing they were rude to their teachers, had participated in bullying, had stolen from family members and more. Some of the images had been posted on social media, while others were photographs of the children in public settings.

Of course, this form of discipline is not without its detractors. Some of the comments on the Chron story about this issue refer to this type of punishment as "cruel," "bizarre" and "scarring." Actually, it's brilliant.

Unsurprisingly, most teenagers are acutely aware of how they are perceived by their peers and in public, and what the outside world thinks is cool and cute often matters more than what their parents think. Public humiliation, especially on social media, hits teens where it hurts, and without actually hitting them.

I grew up in a pre-social media era (thank God), so posting pictures for the world to see wasn't an option for my parents, tech-savvy folk who surely would have used this method. For those more basic times of my adolescence, my parents met complaints from my teachers that I talked back or talked too much in class with a threat — or, as my father would say, a promise — of coming to sit in my classroom. Being embarrassed in front of my friends put the fear of God in me, and I regained my good sense and straightened up so they wouldn't show up.


Read Demetria L. Lucas' entire piece at Essence.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

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