Punishing Your Children By Publicly Humiliating Them

Longtime readers know that I do not have any children (that I know of), and never plan to ever have children. So I know that in the eyes of many that automatically invalidates any opinion that I have on the issue of child-rearing, including the punishment of children. And, hey, I can see some truth of that. It is easy for me to say what you should or should not do, when it’s not something that I’ve ever faced.

But, on the other hand, while I have not ever raised a child, I have been a child. I’ve been punished as a child, so I know what did and didn’t work on me. Doesn’t that experience count for something?

I generally avoid getting into debates or arguments about things like the topic of spanking. People get very passionate about the issue, be they pro-spanking or anti-spanking. Personally, all I’ll say is that I’m not comfortable with the practice, it seems barbaric to me, and therefore I really don’t think I could spank my child if I ever had one (which I won’t). But I won’t say definitively that it’s wrong.

But I’ll tell you what I definitely think is wrong: public humiliation. Some parents will deliberately embarrass their children, as punishment. And that’s just cruel.

I thought of this as I’ve recently seen two examples of this. This first was a woman I know, who has a son around 12 or 13. I saw her post a picture on Instagram of her son at a barbershop getting a haircut. And in the caption, she wrote that she was having his head shaved as punishment for him “talking back” to her. She even gleefully reported that he started crying after the picture was taken.

Now, many of y’all know that I shave my head, because I happen to like that look. But clearly, her son doesn’t llike it. So for her to force him to walk around like that, knowing he’s crying about it? That’s just not cool.

Then even more recently another female friend posted a picture of her daughter, around that same age, standing up against a wall, with her nose to the wall. And she captioned that this was her daughter’s punishment for talking back. Now, being forced to stand against a wall is not as a bad as getting your head forcibly shaved, and it’s fine if that’s how you want to punish them in your own home, but still, why did she have to post this on Instagram, for all of her friends to see? This is not our business.

I didn’t comment on either picture, but I was really appalled by both instances. Again, I’m not a parent, I don’t know exactly what it’s like to have a child who’s “talking back” to me, yeah, I get that. But I was a child. I was spanked by my parents. I also experienced several instances of public humiliation. And those are the instances that stick with you. Physical pain passes a lot easier than mental pain. I remember being spanked a few times, but I don’t remember how it felt. But I remember what it felt like to get laughed at. Those times still sting. I’m a grown man, and sometimes I’ll have a quick random flashback to something like getting my shorts pulled down in gym class when I was 14, and that still hurts.

But at least that’s just something that I remember. There aren’t any pictures of it. Embarrassing your kids and putting that on the internet, that can last forever! I know in the grand scheme of things, the internet, and social media, is still relatively “new.” And I think a lot of parents aren’t really thinking of the long term effects of sharing so much of their children’s lives online. You’re making choices for them, which could impact their lives much later, in ways which we can’t currently predict. So THINK before you POST.


  1. Public humilation of students is definitely nothing new. i can’t recall of any incident where i was publicly humilated however I do recall a boy when I was in fourth grade who had his father come up and beat him with a belt in each of his classes for cutting school. That was back in the 80s, had that been today it wouldn’t happen because that would be a call for Child Protection Services. Can you imagine if we had cell phone with camera and video capabilities back then? So, yeah what has changed is the social media aspect of posting such incidents so they will be viewable in perpetuity.


    • I am also old enough to remember when kids could be spanked at school. In my first elementary school, for 1st and 2nd grade, it would be the Principle who did it (with a paddle).


      • haha… in my K-2 school the principal had the “golden ruler” for anyone who did something bad. Luckily I didn’t get caught doing anything cuz what I witnessed with others treated to the golden ruler was horrifying. She asked you to hold out your hands and…WHACK! Still get chills thinking about it.


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