Online Child Shaming: Discipline or Abuse?

Online Child Shaming Discipline or Abuse

Online child shaming is a relatively new to social media, but it’s been garnering a lot of attention and sparking plenty of controversy. The videos are popping up everywhere. In fact, if you search for “child shaming video” on YouTube, you’ll find more than 30,000 matches!  But is the public shaming of children effective, tough-love parenting or is it a form of abuse?

Parenting isn’t easy. It’s stressful business and sometimes it’s difficult to know what to do when a child misbehaves. We love our kids but when they exhibit destructive behavior, we want to stop it….quickly.  In reality, parenting is a long-term game and there are no instant solutions to rectify a child’s bad conduct. Shaming is often a last ditch effort for exasperated parents who have tried numerous other ways to curb bad behavior without success.

Much like other forms of abuse, shaming is generational. Rarely does it occur out of the blue. Parents who have been raised with shame will often incorporate the same techniques into their own parenting style. They know it’s humiliating, but sadly, it’s also familiar. They misconstrue shaming as a form of discipline but in actuality, it’s unhealthy and psychologically abusive. Parents are supposed to be their child’s protector, not their tormenter.

Most experts agree that online shaming causes far more problems than it solves.  While the parents who engage in shaming may believe it fixes the problem in the short-term, the lasting effects can be devastating. Online child shaming often results in:

  • Increased resentment and anger toward the parents
  • Erosion of trust
  • Insecurity
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety, depression and suicidal tendencies

Instead of posting shaming videos, experts say parents should implement the following constructive means to deal with problem behaviors in children:

  • Use positive reinforcement to praise good conduct.
  • Talk with your children on regular basis. Listen to them, spend time with them and tell them you love them.
  • Explain how you feel about the bad behavior and create consequences for it.
  • If the destructive behaviors continue or escalate, talk to your child’s pediatrician. He or she can provide additional strategies for resolution or refer you to a child psychologist.


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