Punishing children on the Internet can have a lasting effect

By Caitlin Piper

On Jan. 5, a redditor known only as AngryCommGuy posted a photo of a frowning teenage girl holding up a sign and an iPod, claiming it had been taken by her mother. Among other things, the sign relayed that the girl was a cyberbully and that she had to sell her beloved iPod and donate the money to an anti-bullying organization as punishment.

This is only the most recent of a rapidly developing trend on the Internet: public shaming of misbehaving children through social media.

An Ohio mother recently posted a photo of her daughter alongside a brief paragraph instructing readers to ask the girl why she was banned from all forms of social media, and we’ve all seen the video of the father who was less than pleased with his daughter’s disrespectful posts on her Facebook page, shooting her laptop with his gun several times on camera and posting it online.

Public shaming is certainly nothing new. Humiliating signs existed long before the Internet, and dunce caps haven’t become a cliche for nothing.

However, the Internet has made it easy for information to spread quickly. While posting a humiliating photo may seem like a good idea at the time, these parents don’t seem to realize just how far-reaching the world wide web has become.

They say nothing is ever truly gone from the Internet. This is especially unfortunate for the children subjected to this type of punishment, as these photos and videos will continue to circulate long after the child has supposedly learned their lesson. They can even cost them a job or lower their chances of being accepted into the college of their choice.

While shame can be used to instill empathy or obedience in a misbehaving child, public shaming — especially on the Internet — does them more harm than good.

It is not about teaching the child a lesson, but about upholding their mother or father’s reputation. The fact that these parents seem so proud of their actions when these stories go viral is proof enough.

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