Stop Publicly Shaming Your Kids To 'Teach Them A Lesson'

by Valerie Williams
Originally Published: 
Image via Facebook

A dad filmed his daughter walking to school as punishment for her bullying, and now it’s viral

In a viral video that’s now been viewed over 16 million times, a dad documents his 10-year-old daughter’s 5-mile walk to school in 36 degree temps. He explains that the walk is punishment after being kicked off the school bus for bullying. Which, fair.

What’s unfair? Posting the video to Facebook and making sure the whole world got to see his child “learning a lesson.”

It’s strange in this age of social media where we spend so much time driving the point home to our kids that the internet is forever that a parent would showcase something as private as discipline in the public sphere, available for anyone to comment. But that’s exactly what Matt Cox did when his daughter bullied other students and lost her privilege to ride the school bus as a result. He made her walk to school, and filmed his own commentary while she shuffled along, and now, millions of strangers have weighed in on the dad’s choice of punishment.

And he’s definitely not the only parent to do something like this. This social shaming has become a depressing trend in recent years.

“Let me make this extremely clear: Bullying is unacceptable, especially in my household,” Cox said, as he kind of proceeds to do exactly that.

Let’s make a few things clear. There’s nothing wrong with a child walking in the cold, so long as they’re properly dressed. There’s everything right with a child who torments other children in any fashion facing serious punishment. There’s everything wrong with broadcasting that punishment on the internet for all to see. She’s 10 years old. This could now follow her forever.

When parents congratulate themselves for punishing their children for bullying by making sure millions of people watch their punishment in real time, that only makes the argument that humiliation is an acceptable way to make a point. He could’ve had her walk to school and not told a single soul. That would’ve made the same point, right?

If you want your kids to be kind and respectful, show your kids kindness and respect. Once again, she’s 10 years old. My 11-year-old makes some extremely baffling life choices, but that’s because she’s still learning to be a human. It’s my job as a parent to instruct her and show her the error of her ways — not humiliate her into “behaving” the way she needs to. Commenters point out that kids not facing this type of harsh punishment are the reason KIDS HAVE NO RESPECT THESE DAYS, but I’d argue that respect is learned. And earned.

I would never expect my child to respect me if I pulled a stunt like this. Because seeing her rub a peer’s face in a mistake like they’re a dog who peed on the kitchen floor is nothing I would ever be proud to have taught.

If this is something people find commendable, they need to imagine their boss at work punishing them by filming the corrective action for a mistake, sharing it on the internet, and pointing out how great they are for teaching them a lesson. If it’s not cool to do to an adult, it’s definitely not OK for a kid either.

Cox updated his post with the result of his punishment and claims his daughter has seen the error of her ways. He writes that she “still has all her extremities intact is happy and healthy and seems to have a new outlook on bullying as well as a new appreciation for some of the simple things in life she used to take for granted.”

While that all may be true, it’s hard to imagine that she’s any too pleased with her tough lesson becoming fodder for the whole internet to comment on.

He concludes, “So children if you’re watching this, please understand that bullying is unacceptable — everywhere.”


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