CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The dog in the picture is the epitome of shame. His head is held low, brow tense and furrowed, eyes lowered. He is surrounded by a sea of white feathers. In front of him is a sign, "I eat feather pillows while Mom is at work."The photo is from a site called dogshaming.com that features snapshots of dogs that have been caught misbehaving. Most of the dogs look genuinely embarrassed, but nearly as many show little or no remorse.Much like many humans.There have been several stories in the news lately about parents who have taken somewhat extreme measures to punish their children for bad behavior. A Utah dad donned short shorts while running errands with the family in an attempt to teach his teenage daughter about modesty.
A Florida couple disciplined their 13-year-old daughter by having her stand at a busy intersection with a sign detailing her misdeeds. An Australian mom sold her daughter's concert tickets in an ad explaining it was punishment for lying and disrespectful behavior.Child psychologists say public shaming can be effective for teaching children what behavior to avoid in the future so that they don't suffer the same humiliating punishment, but they claim it causes children not to trust their parents, saying they need to feel safe and secure.That last part is what makes me go, "Neh." Safe and secure is nice and all, but in some instances, seems a bit overrated. While I strongly believe that you should never tell a child that they're bad, they need to know in a clear and definitive and memorable way when their actions are unacceptable. It would be great to find a form of punishment as effective as shaming can be, but there are times when a little humiliation can be exactly what's needed.
Earlier this month, more than 300 teenagers broke into a Stephentown, N.Y., house, and had themselves a party. The house, owned by former NFL player Brian Holloway, was badly damaged by partiers who urinated on the floors, broke windows and even stole a statue that was part of a memorial to Holloway's stillborn grandson.All throughout the party, the teenagers tweeted about what they were doing and posted pictures of themselves online.Yet Holloway's response was classy and kind. He created a website in an attempt to reach out to the teens and show them there are better ways to spend their time than drinking and vandalizing. He invited them to a picnic and gave them the opportunity to return to his home to help clean up the mess they'd left behind.Of the 300 who trashed his home, only one returned. The others? Their parents reacted by hiring lawyers to go after Holloway for reposting their children's pictures -- the same ones they initially posted on social media themselves -- on his website.Seems to me there are 299 teenagers and even more parents who need to be lined up for public humiliation. That something like this could happen and the parents not react with horror to what their children did is not only outrageous, it's frightening. What kind of monsters are we raising?Seems like we don't need less shaming, we need more. And not just for children, but for grown-ups as well.Someone should alert those who started the dogshaming site and let them know it's time to expand.Reach Karin Fuller via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.