Dunce caps seem like a harsh and antiquated way of making kids behave, but in the public arena otherwise known as the Internet, some parents are resorting to a similar means of discipline, albeit with shaming notes and photographs. On Sunday, a redditor called AngryCommGuy posted a picture titled "Mom Catches Daughter Cyberbullying" he says he found posted by a "surburban mom" on Facebook.
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The image shows a girl, who appears to be in her early teens, holding a sign and an IPod. The sign reads: "My name is Hailey. I am a kind, caring, smart girl, but I make poor choices with social media. As a punishment, I am selling my IPod and will be donating the money to the charity Beat Bullying, in hopes of changing my behavior as well as bringing awareness to Bullying. Because bullying is wrong."
In an era when even some judges are sentencing people to wear humiliating signs to atone for their crimes, this is only one of many incidents picked up by the media of parents using online shaming notes to reprimand their children. And apparently, it can be a powerfully aversive tool. In 2012, when a Texas mom posted a photo of her 12 year-old daughter on Instagram as a punishment for displaying the her own selfie holding a bottle of vodka, the mother told ABC News that, "She actually asked for a spanking instead; she begged for a spanking."
The redditor did not respond to Yahoo Shine's request for comment, but on the social sharing site, he further explained that the reaction to the photo on Facebook was "high fives all around." An argument can be made that the girl's mother is teaching her daughter a valuable lesson-and one that she will never forget-by showing her precisely what it feels like to be humiliated online. "Parenting! *Fist bump freeze in the air*" wrote one commentor. Another recalled, "When I was 6, my mom caught me bullying a kid for being poor/dirty. Made me wear the same unwashed outfit for a week. BAM! Empathy learned."
However, many other commentors are calling out the mom for cyberbullying herself. One asked, "How to teach your kid to not be a cyber bully: post a judgmental photo of her on the Internet so people can see how bad she is." Another added, "I think shaming your kids is horrific parenting and all the 'parenting: doing it right' replies [that] this kind of submission gets is very sad."
Family therapist and parenting expert Karen Ruskin praises the mom for taking action at all and says she sees many parents who have a "not my kid" attitude when it comes to bullying-but she feels this kind of punishment both perpetuates the problem and doesn't teach a kid about real empathy. "Without realizing it, the mother is actually doing what her daughter did to another child," she tells Yahoo Shine. "Cyberbullying is psychologically hurting someone using social media. Now you are putting your daughter in a position where she is being shamed." Ruskin says it would be more beneficial for the daughter-and her victim-for her to go to the other child's house and apologize face-to-face. "Standing there with a note doesn't help the other person." While Ruskin feels that parents who use this type of punishment may mean well, they won't get the outcome they seek since they are contradicting their own message. "And a giving her IPod to charity? I'd rather see her donate her time. One day, I'm certain, the daughter is going to get another IPod."
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