For better or for worse, there seems to be a media driven trend towards shame punishments. First, we had Tommy Jordan who shot his daughter’s laptop. The girl had used it to publicly complain about being forced to do housework. Then, there was Denise Abbot who used Facebook to punish her daughter with the words “I do not know how to keep my [mouth shut]. I am no longer allowed on Facebook or my phone. Please ask why.” Now, we have Kaytlen Lopan, a 13 year old who cut off a 3 year old’s hair and was sentenced to 30 days in detention. She also received a $350 fine and 276 hours of community service. The judge offered to reduce her sentence by 150 hours if her mother agreed to cut off the girl’s pony tail in the presence of the court. The mother complied and is now filing a formal complaint.
As a parent, I find all 3 stories disgusting. I agree with Mr. Jordan that his daughter had misused the laptop and therefore, should no longer be allowed to use it. Videotaping his response and then firing bullets into the computer was both wasteful and self indulgent. What kind of example is that to set for your kids? His message would have been more profound if the girl was forced to donate her laptop to charity. The computer would go to someone more deserving and could then be used for its intended purpose.
When I heard about the Abbot’s facebook post, I thought of the profile picture she had posted of her 13 year old daughter with an x over her mouth. It sickened me. I began to imagine how many pedophiles found the image intriguing. The mother claims to have taken the photo down after receiving a slew of strange requests but but she had inadvertently put that girl in danger. While it would have been easy to change the profile to Facebook’s default image, I can’t grasp why she chose facebook to sentence the child in the first place. According to the story, the girl was mouthing off in the car. What does that have to do with Facebook? I think a detailed letter of apology and possible grounding would have been more to the point.
The praise these parents received for their actions completely escapes me. If your child fired bullets into a laptop or posted a picture of you with an x over your mouth, what feelings would that evoke? Outrage. It’s bullying. These parents are cyber bullying their children.
Notice, I did not lump Kaytlen Lopan in that group. In the case of Kaytlen Lopan, I tend to side a little more with the Judge. The 3 year old victim was publicly humiliated when Kaytlen cut off her hair at a McDonald’s. Miss Lopan’s mother was not forced to cut her daughter’s hair. It was a questionable offer put forth by the judge. I say questionable only because we rarely tend to support the eye for an eye notion at the court level. There was a similar case back in 2011 where 12 men were indicted in the forcible beard cuttings of the Ohio Amish. The maximum sentence for that act alone was 5 years in prison. If it proved to be a hate crime, the maximum sentence was life in prison. Kaytlen obviously is a child and her original sentence seems just in comparison. Frankly, I thought it was a kind gesture on the part of the judge to offer the deal in the first place.
Yes. Kaytlen would be serving time but her mother would most likely be the one carting her to and from these scheduled appearances. If Kaytlen put in 3 hours every day, it would be just over 3 months back and forth with Mom. I believe the mother accepted not for Kaytlen’s sake but simply for her own. I would have done the same but then again, if my daughter had done this to another child, I would have cut her hair as soon as we got home and insisted, she apologize. Why? Because, hopefully she would know how it feels and never do it again. I’m sure some of you would be outraged at the prospect but where is the outrage for Kaytlen’s actions? What makes a 13 year old attack a defenseless child? Either the time outs and discussions aren’t working or her parents are inconsistent with their discipline.
So at what point do you get serious? Discipline by definition is a an order necessary to instruct. Are your kids learning anything of value by the punishments you set forth? Is the punishment rational and in direct relation to the crime they commit? Are you consistent as a parent? If you said yes to all these things and your child still struggles, you may need to seek out professional help. If the answer was in anyway no, you may need a parenting class or two. The world is a different place from when we grew up and the punishments of the past are often no longer applicable. Good behavior and thoughtful gestures are timeless. I think we need to call our attention away from these fanatics and regroup. As parents, we work to shape the next generation. What kind of people will they become in the wake of vigilante justice and shame punishments?