So, this happened. And it was only a matter of time, honestly. And it's sad, and horrible and words cannot describe the level of awful it is.
And I am not going to pile on the father who ended up on the internet scolding his daughter as he cut off all her hair. Yes, that was my first instinct, but honestly, without having seen the video (I can't/don't want to/it's gone/whatever), and giving the benefit of the doubt, I'm guessing that man is is a puddle of guilt-ridden grief right now. God forbid I or you or any one of us make the mistake of implementing a discipline method we think will really deter behavior only to lose our child forever because of our decision. My guess is that man is already just barely hanging on, if that. I don't want to add.
I'd like to make a generic list, though, outlining reasons why public internet shaming of kids is a really shitty idea (in case what has happened isn't proof enough). The internet, we forget, particularly social media, is still fairly new, and it's not just our kids we are teaching about how to navigate it safely and effectively and what the repercussions of viral can really be.
7) It shows your child at his worst. When did we become a society enamored with the darkest sides of our loved ones? Why would we want to save a moment that marks a low for the child we are supposedly raising? Isn't the point to get the best behaved, nicest, most polite child we can muster at any given time? Don't we want them to shine? Everyone gets a trophy, right? That's the new motto? So why on Earth are we starting to post up videos and photos of 5-14 year olds at their worst for anyone to gawk at? And not just at their worst, but lower than their worst because they're being punished for their wrongdoing, which is humiliating enough in private, if I recall correctly from my childhood.
6) It shows you at your worst. These videos, meant to showcase the bad behavior of the children being taped, inadvertantly show the bad behavior of the parents. Any parent who has to resort to mindful, purposeful humiliation of her child as a form of punishment is clearly no longer in control of her household and trying desperately, no-holds-barred, to get that control back. Is that the face you want to forward on your social media? Hi, friends, aquaintances, former bosses and strangers! Look at how I'm no longer able to manage my kid!
5) It airs your dirty laundry. That's a dated phrase my own mom used to use, but in this case, it's true enough. How many people on the internet need to know the intimate particulars of your squabbles with your kids? If you don't care about your child's privacy at all, what about your own? What about your household's? Are you still going to feel happy about this decision two weeks from now when whatever your kid did has blown over a bit? What about two months from now? Or two years? Or twenty? You are forever labeling your home life as tumultuous at best, and inviting others not only to laugh at your kid (cruel), but to laugh at your life. Good job, parent.
4) It's bullying. Yes, your kid did something very wrong. That's why you are disciplining them. And, yes, you think that filming this and sharing it is part of the discipline, but it's not. Remember back to when they were little. Using your big force to push around the little kid was bad. Enforcing natural consequences was good. It remains the same. Filming and sharing is using your power against that of the child. It's 'putting them in their place' in a mean-spirited way. Showing them who is the boss, who has control of their image, their life, their very being. It's bullying.
3) It lasts forever. If you change your mind about it, too bad. You can delete it all you want, it will still be there. Only one person out of all that saw it had to right-click save, and you're doomed. And if it goes big enough, there will be the articles about it that remain after the original source is gone. And even if it never gets that big, it still captures a moment in time that families outside of that stressful second would have forgotten about. But on the internet, it can be relived years from now. It will follow your child throughout his life.
2) Whatever the kid did wrong is not that big a deal. If you find yourself reaching for the camera, it's a good bet your emotions are running high enough that you are no longer seeing life in its correct perspective. I don't care what the kid did. Drinking, lying, theft, whatever the worst thing you can think of is. It seems like the end of the world at the time, like you must take strong steps to correct the behavior, but how will you feel about it five years from now? Chances are, without a video, you'll be laughing with Great Aunt Hilda about it next Thanksgiving. Because a mistake is a mistake, and caring families can get over that shit. A video poisons that family dynamic. Memory cannot make it fonder or lessen the impact. It's just there as it was in that twisted moment, forever.
1) It could have lasting consequences. At its most brutal, you could end up responsible for your child's death. Or you could put a splinter in your relationship with her that will never heal, the chasm only widening with time. You could forever change the way your child thinks about herself. You could have her believing that your love is a lie. You could introduce trust and boundary issues that plague her into adulthood.
This girl needed help. She needed support. She was obviously making poor choices, and her father was obviously at the end of his rope. But when that tough love happened, instead of straightening out, it extinguished her last line of hope in life, her last vestiges of belief in love or in herself.
Please don't humiliate your child. There are so many other ways to get them to do the right thing. Social media shaming is the worst form of discipline to come down the pike since the belt buckle.