Parents posting videos of kids being disciplined is extremely harmful
By Jessica Berget, Opinions Editor
There are plenty of ways to discipline your child, some healthier than others. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), some healthy discipline strategies are to set limits, give consequences, encourage good behaviour, or even just talk to your kids about what is right and wrong. What I didn’t find on the list, however, even though I’ve seen multiple videos of it, is public shaming or filming your children as you punish them.
It’s a depressing trend I’ve noticed on social media—parents discipling their kids for bad behaviour by filming their punishment and posting it on the Internet. Moreover, some of the punishments they carry out are horrifyingly cruel. Some parents destroy their child’s electronics or force them to do it, cut their hair, or make them walk to school as they follow in the car filming them.
There is a reason the AAP does not list humiliation in its healthy discipline strategies. Publicly shaming your kid is basically bullying and it can be extremely damaging to them.
Punishing your kids reasonably for misbehaviour is perfectly normal but publishing a video of their punishment is probably a humiliating and traumatizing experience for them. As parents, you are supposed to be their caregivers and, I believe, set an example of how they should treat themselves and how they let others treat them. In airing your disciplinary actions to the public, I believe you are essentially showing them that they can’t trust you and this can push them into isolation—among other consequences.
Public shaming is not a good way to punish kids as it can lead to mental health problems in the future. In a Psychology Today Canada article by Dr. Krystine Batcho, she summarized why shame can be a damaging discipline strategy. “Even in cases where shame successfully diminishes a behavior, one should ask, ‘at what price?’” she wrote. “Shame can become internalized, and the shamed person begins to view him or herself in ways consistent with the disapproval. […] The individual becomes both the judged and the judge and experiences self-criticism and feelings of inadequacy. When shame is internalized and becomes pervasive and enduring, a person can be at risk for developing unhealthy conditions such as depression or social anxiety disorder, the fear of being scrutinized and the avoidance of social events that evoke such fear.”
This trend of public shame videos needs to stop. Apart from being extremely inappropriate, it’s psychologically damaging to your children. Public shaming is not going to teach them why their behaviour is bad or how to correct it. It only serves to humiliate and torment them.