Teaching Bullying is Wrong … By Bullying the Bully?

I came across a picture the other day that was praising a mom for good parenting. The mother had caught the child bullying via social media. To teach the girl a lesson, the mother made her sell her ipod and donate the money Beat Bullying, an organization that brings awareness about bullying.

The mother then made her daughter write down her info and punishment on a piece of poster board, that she was then forced to hold up so the mom could take a picture of her holding it – and the ipod –  and post the it online.

bully sell phone

The girl and her painful expression have been cut out of this picture. The original did not disguise the girl in any way.

The posterboard reads:

“My name is ********. I am a kind, caring, smart girl, but I make poor choices with social media. As punishment, I am selling my iPod and will be donating the money to the charity Beat Bullying in hopes of changing my behavior as well as bringing awareness to bullying. Because bullying is wrong.”

 

As you may realize, there are many who completely support the mom’s decision and actions and there are many who don’t.

I don’t.

Not completely anyway.

Punishments should fit the crime, I agree – but not when it goes so far as to treat the child the same way they were treated. Selling the ipod – excellent parenting. Donating money to Beat Bullying – excellent parenting. Both these things will teach her it’s not okay to bully.

Posting the picture on the internet for the world to see – horrible.

My question is, who’s the bully now?

“She’s getting a taste of her own medicine. She bullied someone, she should be bullied back.”

Well, my first thought is that we’re not told what the girl did when she bullied someone. No bullying is okay – ever – but at what point is expressing an opinion bullying? Perhaps she said something to someone who needs a thicker skin. What she did should be defined, but either way – bullying back isn’t right.

‘They did it to me so I’m going to do it to them….’ is the exact wrong frame of mind we have in this country. Okay, I guess when my kid breaks something of mine, I should break something of theirs.

Really?

Is this what we want to teach our kids? We want to teach them not to bully, not that it’s okay to bully when you’re in a parents bullyingposition of power.

This is child abuse. Child psychologists and psychiatrists agree. They have done studies and say that public shaming your children is emotional child abuse.
Emotionally abused children grow up feeling unloved, unwanted, and fearful. They develop self-doubt, depression and anxiety and they carry these same personality traits into adulthoodParents should provide their children with safety, protection, acceptance, understanding and empathy. Children of parents who provide those things grow up knowing their worth, they demand respect from others and from themselves.Child psychologists also say that emotional abuse causes children to lose respect for their parents and live with fear that carries into adulthood.

Not only is it abuse, it often – usually – has opposite the desired effect.

I left a comment on the thread where I first came upon the picture stating that posting a picture of just the note and ipod would have sufficed, or to take the picture and hang it in the home – on the fridge – for a reminder.

Someone, we’ll call “Gee” decided to attack me for it.

What would putting the picture up in the house do other than make her feel personally unloved?

This is a child we’re talking about, not an adult that understands the concepts. The child lacks empathy, so how do you expect to explain why she shouldn’t bully in a way she understands?

What Gee fails to do is read his own words. This isn’t an adult that understands these concepts – he’s right and that’s exactly my point. And how does bullying your child – in front of millions – teach them empathy?

It doesn’t.

Empathy isn’t that hard a concept anyway. If you bump or hurt yourself, a 2 year old will come comfort you – giving you empathy. If the girl is old enough to have an iPod and be on social media, she’s able to understand empathy without being publicly shamed.

Regardless, this girls mother has not taught her empathy. What she’s successfully done is:

  • Shown her daughter that using power and domination over others gets them to behave the way you want them to behave.
  • Assured that her daughter will, most likely, bully again, and that she best make sure to do it in such a way that doesn’t get caught.
  • Taught her daughter that it’s in her best interest to keep things from her parents.
  • Made her feel sorry for herself rather than empathy for those she may have hurt.

Putting the picture up, for a pre-arranged amount of time, reminds her that she lost her iPod and why. It doesn’t make her feel ‘personally unloved’ – her mother posting the picture on the internet did that.

She’s been cyber bulling people, she gets a small dose of her own medicine, and she’s been put in the very shoes of those she’s been bullying, and I bet she won’t be doing it again. She may even give a genuine apology and make friends with the person she bullied.

A small dose? Really Gee? Just one FB post alone it has been liked almost 350,000 times, shared almost 40,000 times and has over 20,000 comments on it. That’s not a “small dose”.

And she’s not ever going to make friends with the person who she bullied and further her shame and I highly doubt she’ll stop bullying. She’ll lash out more – now – because of the public humiliation. That’s why I suggested the picture remaining in the home – as a reminder. An annoyance, and shame should they have company, but not on a grandiose scale.

It’s the fact that it’s in the home that makes it worse. Online, it’s just out there, it’s just publicly known that she did something wrong. To put it up in the house is a constant reminder, and for however long it’s up it would be constant punishment and personalised shame that would make her uncomfortable in her own house. If you’re personally made to feel like an outcast in your own home, that’s just alienating and far too harsh. Online is just public.

It’s the difference between it being out there for others to see and it being within her comfort zone forced in there specifically for her to never be able to escape from her past actions, regardless of whether she learned her lesson or not. This image online isn’t going to be haunting her, she doesn’t have to see it every time she walks into the house as a reminder that she’s not allowed to move on yet. The intention for keeping it in the house would be obvious: Unlike seeing it online knowing it’s for others to see, having it up in the house isn’t for others to see, it’s specifically for HER to see to let her know she’s not allowed to move on from it… so she won’t see any point in trying.

Gee, clearly, has no children or any idea of how the parent/child relationship works. Being made feel an outcast in your home may put a divider up -within the home- for a time. Being made feel an outcast on social media is going to last a lifetime and is no different than what the child was doing when she bullied someone. Actually, it’s worse.

It’s the difference between the parent telling people she meets about it and having a personal go at the child every time she’s seen in the house. It’s the difference between having for people to see, and having it up for HER to see for the sole result of taking away her comfort zone. Putting it up in the home is just cruelty and I would have thought very damaging to a parent child relationship.

And this “having a personal go at the child” … I wonder what kind of home Gee grew up in. Having ‘a go at your child’ – about something he’s already been punished for is just as wrong. That’s applying guilt and is just as much emotional abuse as public humiliation is.

And taking her out of her comfort zone, at home, is wrong – but taking her out of her comfort zone, in the world, isn’t? I wouldn’t be surprised if this girl suffered depression – for a time, if not still – and didn’t want to leave the house. I’ve been there before, for other reasons.

Now the kid is going to get bullied because of the picture. Does the mom truly think she’s not going to bully back? Of course she is! Her mom just taught her that you are supposed to bully bullies!

The thing is, I believe there’s a difference in punishment and discipline.

Punishment is penalizing someone for past misdeeds.
1526269_10152171771434474_395135781_n Discipline is training in order to form maturity so someone makes better choices in the future.
Bullying is being cruel to or humiliating someone who is weaker than you.

To discipline, you give appropriate consequences for their actions to encourage a child to make better choices in the future.

The mom was spot on when she made her sell her iPod and donate the money. That was the girl’s consequence for bullying. Then the mom went a step further and punished her through bullying by posting her consequence on the web for the world to see.

If she’d gone on FB and told her friends about it – fine. But a picture? That lasts forever? How have adults not learned this yet? I mean, I know most of them didn’t have social media when they were teens or in college, but it’s been proven over and OVER – once it’s out there, it’s out there.

Words on a screen are too, but there’s a level of denial-ability with those. When someone says “I heard…” you can say “That’s someone else named …”

The difference here between just putting it up on the fridge for shame is that this isn’t a full on public shaming… I feel it would be rather harsh to have a full on “look what a **** this kid is”, but read the sign, it doesn’t say that, it’s saying she’s a nice girl that made a mistake, and is now redeeming herself for that mistake.

And why do we have to announce to the world that our kid made a mistake? Has the effects of Lindsey Lohan’s, Miley Cyrus’s, Justin Beiber’s mistakes being announced or shown to the world taught us nothing?

And here is where Gee confused me even more.

The differences are easy to see in people raised in two different ways. People raised with a pure punishment method such as yours is usually met with the response of “great, if I get caught then I’ll get punished and lectured, better keep this a secret”, leading to behind the back tactics, whereas those raised to act for forgiveness do just that and grow up honest. I was raised in that manner, if I did something wrong, rather than just being lectured and punished, it would be taken as a teaching opportunity. If I messed up, I would be simply asked how I plan to make up for it, and if I didn’t know I’d be taught, and I caught on very quickly.

Gee is confused – and – clearly doesn’t read my replies. Especially where I explained the difference in punishment and consequences.

He said “those raised to act for forgiveness … grow up honest”

I agree, but that’s not what was done here. Where was the forgiveness? There was none. Where was she ‘simply asked how [she] plan[ned] to make up for it’? She wasn’t. If she had been, she would have never agreed to public shaming. There was consequences, punishment and now hundreds of thousands of people are seeing and discussing it.

He also, wrongly, assumes that because you disagree with public shaming your children it means you use some ‘pure punishment method’ or that you over ‘lecture’ your children or that you and your children are ‘friends’ and you don’t discipline at all.

This is a practically anonymous display to raise awareness of bullying to redeem herself for her actions and have the whole thing as water under the bridge, really, what extra information does a face and a first name give?

This is not practically anonymous. If it were, what would be the point? It wouldn’t raise any awareness if it wasn’t seen. Gee is, again, contradicting himself.

What extra information can a face and first name give?

A lot.

Do a search of her first name with the words ‘bully’ and/or ‘iPod’ and you find the Facebook post. On that post, her mother commented stating:

“I am her mother. Let me address a few things,”

We now know her last name as well as what city she lives in. From her mother’s FB account – you can find hers.

Once Gee began to equate me with the mother, because I share pictures of my sons on my FB page, and using insults, I saw no reason to continue the conversation. I was taught not to have an intelligent conversation with an unarmed man… 😉

If interested, the entire conversation can be read here: Public Shaming

First thoughts or feelings about this post?
  • Awesome 
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