Punishment by YouTube
A recent trend on YouTube are kids filming themselves punishing their children. In one of these videos, a father filmed his daughter walking to school from his car. He explains, at the start of the video, that she had been bullying other kids on the school bus and therefore had been kicked off the bus, for the second time in one week.
The daughter seems to be unaware that she’s being filmed, and the father is giving the camera a monologue about how unacceptable bullying is, and how he’s against kids thinking they’re entitled to things, like being able to ride the bus in the morning.
This is not the only video I’ve seen like this. Usually in these videos, the parents are making some kind of statement to other parents. A suggestion, perhaps, to other parents about what they should be doing to take responsibility in teaching their child discipline.
But I believe this kind of video can backfire.
In the video of the girl walking to school instead of taking the bus, the consequence of her actions was already delivered. Since she couldn’t handle herself on the bus, she now had to walk to school. With the father driving behind her, filming her, and telling the entire world about her misdeeds, he might be making a point about parenting, but at the expense of publicly shaming his child.
Children make mistakes, and there should be consequences. As a teacher, we were taught to deliver logical consequences (if you break something out of anger, you’re responsible for fixing or replacing it, for example)… or natural consequences (if you’re fighting your friend and you both fall and hurt yourself on the pavement, you’ve already experienced the negative consequences of your action and no further intervention is required).
In this case, the bus driver had given this girl a logical consequence: if you can’t be cordial on the bus, you don’t get to ride. The only thing this parent was doing was publicly shaming his child and trying to position himself as some discipline authority. What he was really doing was riding on the back of someone else’s consequence as if it was his own method of dealing with the problem.
Or perhaps he was embarrassed by his daughter and needed to prove to the world that she didn’t learn bullying behavior from him.
But either way, the habit we’re getting into of publicly shaming our kids on the internet when a normal consequence would do may curb their behavior, but only so that they don’t end up being publicly shamed. It doesn’t teach the bully about the feelings of the person they’re bullying. It also opens up a girl’s chosen punishment to input from the rest of the world. And we definitely don’t need any of that.
Videos like this go viral and are promoted by USA Today, but since every child is different and every situation is different, they add very little value.