When I was growing up, there was a form of discipline that every child I knew dreaded. It trumped being grounded, yelled at or even spanked. It was the threat of being hit by your parents in front of your peers. Long after the pain stopped stinging and bruises healed, the story of said child getting hit and dragged down a crowded school hallway would last and last – shared amid laughs, giggles and pointed fingers for weeks. The extra layer of humiliation and embarrassment made those kinds of punishments infinitely more dreadful, especially to children who value acceptance from their peers.

Parents are tapping into that fear of embarrassment with a new form of punishment: public humiliation. In the age of social media, it’s remarkably easy to punish children on a platform that exposes them to their peers, other adults and even strangers.

After author Reshonda Tate Billingsley’s daughter posted a picture of herself holding her father’s bottle of liquor along with the caption: “Wish I could drink this Vodka,” her punishment was public humiliation. The crying daughter was photographed holding a sign that read: “Since I want to post photos of me holding liquor, I am obviously not ready for social media and will be taking a hiatus until I learn what I should and should not post. Bye-Bye.” Her mother then published that picture on her Facebook page. It went viral.

Demetria Lucas claims the phenomenon is becoming increasingly popular among African-American parents on Essence.com: “Billingsley isn’t alone among African-American parents. A slideshow on the Chron news site depicts various children with brown hands holding signs announcing they were rude to their teachers, had participated in bullying, had stolen from family members and more. Some of the images had been posted on social media, while others were photographs of the children in public settings.”

While public humiliation may be effective, there are other ways to punish children without turning them into a spectacle.

Public humiliation is scarring, especially in cases when images go viral. It may stop children from repeating bad behavior, but the shame also plagues them long after they’ve learned their lesson and the family has moved on from the incident. To other adults and children who’ve witnessed the punishment, the offending child becomes that “kid who took a photo with his father’s bottle” or “the girl who snuck out at 3AM.” That label could stick for years, especially in small towns.

It’s also callous. What if adult transgressions — infidelity, poor money management, drug abuse to name a few — were plastered for everyone to see? Imagine the degradation and shame that we would feel, and how much harder it would be to better ourselves with the world watching and judging. That’s the kind of ordeal that publicly humiliated children go through at the most impressionable time in their lives. I’m sure the kids who were ridiculed in front of thousands of strangers would take a spanking over shame any day.

  • __A

    I think public humiliation on a local level in your town is perfectly fine (shame is needed to keep folks in line), but I think putting it all over the internet is a problem. Children are irresponsible and don’t think at that age. They should be punished, but I don’t think you should put something out there that will forever be on the web about something they did when they were an irresponsible child.

  • Billy Paul


    Billy is delighted to be the first to say “yes”. Further, you should shame your child before society shames you and your child.

    Carry on, Family.

  • Lorra

    Spanking doesn’t always work and many parents don’t believe in it. If you break the rules you MUST learn to deal with the consequences! Those same adults who do wrong also still face ridicule. For example when Hugh Grant (actor) dies his obituary will always make mention that he received a blow job from a hooker.

  • http://gravatar.com/missinformation7 Ms. Information

    Please don’t start that lower caste, Mediatakeout esque “first” bs….pleassseee.

  • Sasha


  • Mimi

    LOL. whenever you are publicly embarrassed, you make it a point NEVER to do it again. Discipline is not meant to be “pleasant” or “forgettable”.

  • Yb

    The girl “Jasmine” who snuck boys into her parents house at 3 am needs to be put on full blast. No sympathy here. And show should the little thieves.

  • Starla

    I personally would not do it because that relationship is a lifetime relationship. Furthermore, parents do not own their children. You are a guide in their life and through your life experience and hopefully wisdom you help them chart the course of life until they can chart it on their own. Along the way they will make mistakes, great and small. Shaming will stop the bad behaviour, but it will drive a wedge between you and your child. The last thing a parent should want is child who is emotionally disconnected from them. Who wants a Stepford child?

    My parents made so many mistakes in our home that if I was to publicly put them on blast it would be very disgraceful. However, I am old enough to know that people make mistakes, and I almost pity parents because their is no manual, you’re pretty much on your own, and most people just become a reflection of their own parents.

  • Maia

    “What if adult transgressions — infidelity, poor money management, drug abuse to name a few — were plastered for everyone to see? Imagine the degradation and shame that we would feel, and how much harder it would be to better ourselves with the world watching and judging.”

    Isn’t this what social media does to celebs/reality stars EVERY SINGLE DAY? And no one remotely cares how they feel. They manage to survive with the whole world knowing their shortcomings, even when the knowledge is acquired by going thru their trash or using a high-powered photo lens to catch them from afar. The average person won’t have their business as a nightly news topic or on the cover of a tabloid. They should be fine too.

  • LadyP

    I agree with you YB!

    I read the article in its entirety, but the girl who snuck boys into her PARENT’S house..period. At 3AM, though? I think by the time I was finished with her, she would not have wanted to go back out until she was 18ish. I would not have Creflo Dollar-ed her, but I would have made sure she wouldn’t repeat that behavior.

    I cringed when I heard that news the other day. I think it depends on the nature of the child in which punishment to administer. It is usually beneficial to take things away from them that matters the most. I don’t support holding up a sign. Other kids will try to humiliate and laugh at them for a long time which will have an effect on their self-esteem.

  • EST. 1986

    *Nods head in agreement*

  • EST. 1986

    I don’t agree with public shaming as a form of discipline. As I said on the other article – You never forget what your parents have done, said to you, and how they made you feel.

  • dee

    I’d like to say yes but I’m not really sure. I know if you embarrass your kid enough it’s not going to happen again, but there has got to be something else

  • http://www.myblackfriendsays.com myblackfriendsays

    It doesn’t surprise me that these parents would make a poor decision to embarrass their children on the internet. I’m sure their earlier poor parenting decisions contributed greatly to their children doing things like stealing, sneaking boys in, etc.

    All human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. It doesn’t matter if it’s a parent/child relationship, boyfriend/girlfriend, political opponents–whatever. The sooner we learn this, the better off we will all be.

  • MimiLuvs

    IMO, using a public forum to humilate a child, and claiming that it is a discipline a child, can backfire on a parent. Not only can the event could affect the parent-child relationship, but it also allows the public to judge the parent’s parental skills. For example, I know a woman who humiliated her daughter, because her daughter was failing her classes, by ditching classes. The mother humiliated her daughter by posting FB statuses about her daughter’s grades. Instead of receiving “digital high fives” from other people. People asked the mother “What was she doing during this period of time? Did she attend PTA meetings? Set up tutoring sessions? Talk to her daughter? Make sure that she didn’t have a learning disability?” Long story short, the daughter had gone to live with her paternal grandmother after this situation occurred. Turns out, the daughter did have dyslexia. Her grandmother took the time to have a conversation with the child and learn that she exhibited signs of dyslexia and had the girl tested.
    IMO, if a parent wants to public humiliate a child, be prepared to look like a fool yourself.

  • http://www.myblackfriendsays.com myblackfriendsays

    I disagree with this. Adult celebrities are not the same as teens/preteens whose brains are still developing. Additionally, celebrities are rewarded with money and fame (that they have usually been seeking for may years.) Any celebrity would eventually be left alone if they moved out of Hollywood and stopped trying to be in the public eye.

  • Blue

    Not a parent but I can’t knock these parents for using this method. If you can’t spank them, taking away the phone or tv doesn’t work, what do you have left to teach them a lesson? The bigger shame would be if the child gets lock up or pregnant because they wanted to be grown..I’m sure that’s the route the parents don’t want for there children.

  • Keepitreal

    Shame is a very powerful tool, I for one, am glad it’s making a come back.

  • http://twitter.com/JumpJunkieJoe Geechee Goddess (@JumpJunkieJoe)

    I think this is a great idea. It’s teaching children more than a few lessons. Today’s society parents aren’t allowed to spank their children, this is a way of putting their children in check without breaking any laws. It also teaches these kids the lesson that once something is on the internet it will be there forever.

  • Seriously?

    You still have young stars that’s doing it like willow smith for example so it still applies.

  • Nicoline

    The girl in your picture looks like a girl I know who goes to Spellman!!

  • http://www.geekmommarants GeekMommaRants

    Shaming is not the same as violence. Shaming is the actual consequence of an action. We can be shamed by our own actions. IMO this is a very effective tool for parents. Those who feel entitled to act out. Will by their own actions or that of a parent really learn to error of their ways. If the choice to shame or beat, shaming should always win.

  • Shell

    We live in a time where people especially pre teens and teens like to display every minute of their lives for everyone to see y not? They like being on display why not help them out.

  • http://gravatar.com/ravsmith78 Ravi

    It seems as though that criticism would have been better placed in reference to the author’s initial comparison to adult behavior. The above comment was responding to the author’s suggestion that adults aren’t similarly shamed. They are, and not just celebrities. Many people that commit crimes are put on display to the public by the media. Get caught robbing the bank and see how quickly your picture is spread throughout the media.

    If the comparison wasn’t appropriate, then that should be an issue for the author. She asked what if adult transgressions were plastered for everyone to see and they already are.

  • Rochelle

    This might work. Parents need to be more creative about how they discipline their children. I don’t have any children but if I do I would be very stern on how I would handle them. Especially if they are males. Males naturally need more beatings when they are younger, but that is another story. For example, if your teen or pre teen wants to get angry and slam their room door, you take the door off the hinges. Your child wants to talk back to a teacher, they run a mile on the treadmill. Your son wants to cause a mess in the bathroom, you now have to go to the gas station bathroom or the one in the cold cellar untill you learn not to pee on the seat. You have to be creative!

  • EST. 1986

    We are already living in a world where boys and men are socialized to handle conflict physically. You don’t at least think that ‘beating’ male children more will only enforce that problem?

    Everything that you have listed as a form of discipline just seems inappropriate. Like, I could just see those tactics causing a lot of resentment.

  • EST. 1986

    The more I think about the options you listed, the more I see that it is not discipline but rather vindictiveness.

  • cupcakes and shiraz

    Um so what is the parent supposed to do then? Let them continue to make mistakes that prevent them from becoming productive members of society and perhaps even land them in jail one day? Parents are not your friends, and sometimes they have to do shyt that will have the child resenting them. That’s life.

  • cupcakes and shiraz

    I gotta say, I am glad I am not a parent in modern times. You’re damned if you punish or in this case “shame” them and damned if you let them run around wild in the street. Now if these children were being abused and/or beaten, then yes, there is a need to intervene. But the most these kids will face is a little humiliation.

    If these armchair critics want to raise everyone else’s kids, then by all means do so…But otherwise, stfu and let parents raise their kids as they see fit.

  • http://gravatar.com/stardancer2008 stardancer2008

    On the resentment angle; children are going to resent their parents from time to time no matter what they do. Why are today’s parents so concerned about feelings? My mother didn’t care one bit if I resented her for disciplining me when I was wrong. Parents are trying so hard to be their children’s friends and that’s what is wrong with these relationships today. You can be friends with your child when they are grown and out of your house. If my son was stupid enough to be caught doing something he knows not to do, it will be on his Facebook page for all to see. When he graduates high school and goes out on his own, he will be in control of himself.

  • Rochelle

    How is it not discipline? What do you think they do in boot camp. That is the problem with parents of today. They give their children too many choice and baby them too much. Children are not suppose to have many choices. It confuses them. If they mess up, you take away the option. You want to slam doors in my ouse, you won’t have any more doors. I don’t see the problem with that. What do you suggest in how to deal with a teenager? Coddle them? Hopefully, if you do your job right, you wont have to deal with any sass from a teen.
    Sometimes teen boys can be wild. You have to tame them early. Not exactly beatings but sterness. That is my point.

  • http://cityarcade.blogspot.com/ srcoop44

    There is a huge difference between punishment and discipline. Punishment is simply punitive, while discipline is more corrective. I have a very serious problem with parents who seem to get a rise out of publicly embarrassing their child(ren). What would motivate a parent to subject their child to “public disgrace” is beyond me. I think it’s (mental, emotional and psychological) “CHILD-ABUSE”. That’s NOT tough love as much as it is MENTAL ANGUISH. Tough love is doing what is necessary to PROTECT your child and to save them from hurt, harm and danger, which I believe should be a private matter between parents and their children. Discipline should be immediate, consistent, and go to the root of the problem, but more importantly, it should remain very private. Regardless to what our children’s wrong doings are/were, we as parents we have a major responsibility to protect and defend their honor, as well as their dignity. This is why children are very rebellious today! There’s a multitude of effective and intellectual ways to correct our kids, but due to the fact that we have more babies raising babies today, our children will continue to rebel, and go on the repeat the same vicious cycle with their children.

  • http://gravatar.com/jadenoellesblog Jade Noelle

    I’m quite sure that those who claim these parents can find other methods will be the first to complain if their kids were beaten instead or if the parents did not do anything at all. If your kid is drinking a “stern talking to” is not going to do the trick. Shaming is a good idea.

  • mEE

    I probably wouldn’t do it but I’m not going to fault those who do since I don’t have a better solution. I’m a teacher who works with students with severe emotional issues. I’ve been trained in so many crisis management and “discipline” oriented protocols. but I FEAR that with my future child, I just won’t have the patience…

  • Kema

    I have boys and I do not beat them. I feel that teaches them to deal with conflict with violence. I agree with your idea about creative punishments. When my boys fight I make them run around the block. This gives them a way to release their aggression. Other times I have them write something that gives their side of the story. Most importantly I treat them as individuals and decide what punishment to use based on that.

  • http://gravatar.com/jadenoellesblog Jade Noelle

    *giving your kids a stern talking to

  • http://gravatar.com/mimiandy1683 MimiLuvs

    But then again, you have to think of the after-effects of using a social media outlet as a form of disciplinary action. It might work for a temporary amount of time, but what will happen if the child has another problem?

  • http://gravatar.com/mimiandy1683 MimiLuvs

    Reading this article, reminds me of the Waters boy.
    For those who don’t know who he is, he is the kid whose uncle decided to punish him for posting gang-affiliated statuses on his Facebook page.

  • Mademoiselle

    @thetruth You read my mind

  • Mademoiselle

    I think teaching kids what shame feels like is a valuable tool to help them make decisions on their own as adults. There are so many adults who do some ruthless things because they have no sense of shame, and I believe some of these parents who are using social media shaming are instilling that sense in their kids. The kids will eventually get over it, but that feeling will be what they draw on later in life when they’re deciding whether to do something that will reflect poorly on themselves without needing their parents to tell them it will. I think the young girl who posted pictures of alcohol was appropriately disciplined with both the shaming and the internet restrictions. I think that was a good lesson in “everything you put on the internet has the potential to bite you in the butt, so next time you decide to post something because you think your friends will find it ‘cool’, think about whether or not you would be ashamed if that same post to made its way beyond your circle.”

    The one problem I do have is this type of discipline becoming a “trend”, meaning parents who are using this technique to get kudos (and, let’s be honest, laughs) from their FB friends while parenting at the lowest level. The person who posted about the friend shaming her kid about grades is right — your kid’s academic performance is partly your responsibility, so don’t go acting all high & mighty when your kid shows you how badly you’ve dropped the ball. That’s an example of parenting at the lowest level. You can’t just blindly apply punishment without regard to the crime. Shame only works in cases where the kid needs to learn their own intrinsic value (self-pride), not when the kid is slacking on responsibilities (self-motivation).

  • kamille

    Not quite sure how to feel about it. I mean..we all remember those days when mom would gossip about us between aunts/uncles/grandmas and the church folk saying..”This child here…”. And it especially stung because of course you want to feel like a perfect little angel in front of everyone else, especially grandma. But like another commenter mentioned, sometimes it would backfire on her and that’s when it went from 0-1 to 1-1 (lol). I kid, I kid.

    But one must examine these methods of public humiliation whether it’s gossiping or using social media to hurt them. And not all discipline forms work for every kid. You may have kids that are more sensitive than others, and can’t handle being teased at school due to social media. And THAT could lead to emotional problems-stress, vulnerability, and could be considered abuse on your part. So I say tread lightly. A little shame does one good, but instead of sharing it with the whole world-maybe just keep it in the family. Have a family member talk to the kid, or maybe a roundtable discussion. It’s different if a kid is being ‘shamed’ by their favorite cool aunt/uncle versus their plain old mom, ya know? Remember it takes a village to raise a child.

  • http://gravatar.com/chanela17 chanela17

    hey miss jada pinkett! how you doin? lol

  • http://gravatar.com/chanela17 chanela17

    dont parents embarrass their kids anyway simply by existing?

    every movie pr with a teenager the ungrateful spoiled degenerate is always like “omg mom ur embarrassing me!”. so oh welll! lol

  • http://gravatar.com/chanela17 chanela17

    right! on FB typing away talking bad about HER child, when she could have been having a conversation with the child or trying to figure out what was going on. plus that’s between YOU and your family, why must the whole world know about your failure as a parent to make sure your kids are doing okay in school. SMH

  • http://gravatar.com/chanela17 chanela17

    watch it be a law or considered child abuse soon though.. smh

  • kamille

    I keep posting my comments and they don’t show up, wtf clutch!?

  • http://gravatar.com/chanela17 chanela17

    right!! and if they ARE shamed for their horrible behavior then people accuse them of being “haters” or being judgmental *rolls eyes*

    especially if that person does terrible things and are rich/celebrities. it will immediately be seen as jealousy and people would say “they have a whole album about rape and violence but make yo money boo! can’t hate on them making the paper!”

  • cupcakes and shiraz

    Um so what do you suggest besides criticism?

  • Rochelle

    the truth….sometimes parents have to use unconventional methods to discipline their children. Some parents beat their children for forgeting their homework at schoo or failing a class. Does the punishment match the crime? Not in my opinion. does it work? Sometimes. So like I said you have to be creative.
    Children are going to resent their parents for one thing or the other. Then they grow up and get over it. Its life.

    Children and teens need to know who is the boss. You can’t not beat or punish them for fear they will get their feelings hurt. That is the problem, trying to get your children to “like” you and be your friend. In my opinion my children liking me is not my concern. I am here to protect and teach them. Point Blank Period.

  • EST. 1986

    “Why are today’s parents so concerned about feelings?”

    Should a parent not be concerned about their child’s feelings?

  • EST. 1986

    If your child doesn’t even like you, why would they care about you wanting them to act right?

  • Mademoiselle

    Rochelle, I don’t think thetruth was saying you shouldn’t get creative, it just seemed like your examples got increasingly cruel and detached from the actual offense. The first 2 weren’t so alarming, but sending your kid to a gas station to pee? Maybe I’m a little hypersensitive because of the kid in FL that just got killed, but sending your kid out of the house to some random location for a punishment could be dangerous. At the very least, wouldn’t it look suspicious to the gas station attendant to have a kid on foot frequenting the establishment just for the bathroom and never buying anything? I just think the punishment should make sense and not pose its own set of hazards to the child.

  • binks

    Personally I like the “shame” ideal if a kid is cutting on up social media (sadly like many kids are starting to do) like the photo above with the girl who had the picture of her with alcohol personally I think that is a good tactic. Everything else, is “meh” if it works, personally I don’t see how this tactic would work for the image of the girl who sneaks boys into her parents house at 3am. Personally, I’ am not against any type of punishment for kids as long as it is not extreme or abusive. Of course public shaming isn’t going to work in EVERY situation. I think punishments should be tailored to the child. If a kid is big on public image and not wanting to look like a fool than shaming maybe is a good tactic but for another kid it probably wouldn’t be. For people who are oppose to this…what do you think mug shots are…it is a form of public shaming so the kids that was stealing I kind of see how this form of punishments can correlate to deter that behavior. At the end of the day, it is all about the parent knowing their kid(s) and what is effective for them to do to correct behavior. Again, everything isn’t for everybody and that is okay! It seems like these days if you don’t agree with one form of child rearing than you are automatically a bad parent when it is really the case of different strokes for different folks.

  • Rochelle

    @ Madam. I am obviously not talking about sending a child out alone to the gas station. I am speaking of a mid to late teenager. I see nothing wrong with what I stated. Sometimes you have to be cruel with your punishments in order for some children to get the lesson. I figure I deal with my children with a strict hand or the police will. You get it?

  • I got sense!

    Right because everything a minor does is the parents fault.

  • Shay

    I am not in favor of humiliating children in public. What if the child refuses to overcome the humiliation, they might go through a phase of disgrace and succumb to extreme measures.

  • JNoire

    @cupcakes and shiraz I wholeheartedly agree. Parents are not your friends! The problem with people today is that they have no shame!

    My parents and teachers made it clear to me that I will not do anything to shame them, myself, my family, my school, or my people. Check your kids before they become a problem to society.

  • Uncontainable Spirit

    As a parent you know your child. You know what works for your child. You should use whatever works for your child to get them to NOT do that which they shouldn’t be doing. Public shaming, corporal punishment, timeouts, grounding etc… whatever works for your child is what you do.

    At the end of the day there are more prisons being built than there are schools. It’s your job as a parent to make sure that your child doesn’t end up in prison. if public humiliation works then that’s what you do.

  • JNoire


  • http://addassamari.edublogs.org/ Gail

    I am a single parent of two boys and when it comes to discipline I am a strict mamma. I am not raising future citizens for the penitentiary system. My goal was and remains to raise sons to be responsible men who have self-discipline, self-respect as well as respect for other.

    I honestly believe that where a child contravene the rules that is when and where discipline should take place.

    That being said, humiliation is not discipline. There are much more effective ways for handling each of the incidents depicted in the photos. Discipline is meant to allow a child to understand what was done wrong, help the parent understand the child’s thinking at the time, and reinforce the proper and acceptable behavior. Discipline build self-esteem, self-worth, and self-efficacy; humiliation destroys those things.

    There is never any cause for humiliating any one and certainly never a child. These disciplinary measures reflected poorly on the parents and may have well have detrimental effect on the parent-child relationship.

  • http://addassamari.edublogs.org/ Gail

    Correction: These disciplinary measures reflected poorly on the parents and may well have detrimental effect on the parent-child relationship.

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