In an era where physical punishments are frowned upon and verbal punishments are often ignored, parents are having to come up with new and innovative ways to punish their children. A Milwaukee mother, Lorraine Walls, with an unruly daughter has taken to Facebook, using a video of her scolding her child in order to discipline the 12-year-old girl. The video, as videos of this nature are wont to do, went viral, prompting criticisms of the strange tactic. Indeed, at first glance and without backstory, the action that Walls took in order to punish her daughter, but after some explanation, this punishment seems quite fitting for the crime, so to speak.
According to Walls, her daughter was using Facebook to organize fights with both her peers from school and from other schools. She was also lying about her age and using the social networking site to talk to older boys, apparently looking for a boyfriend, as her mother specifically makes her repeat that she is not allowed to have one in the video.
The 12 year old was suspended from school for fighting, which prompted her mother to punish her in this unique method. When confronted about the video, Walls said that her concern was with saving this generation of children from becoming teenage mothers or becoming involved in gang violence, as so many kids before them have fallen victim to. The choice to do it on Facebook was simply because Facebook was the medium her daughter was using to get into trouble, so it only made sense to discipline her by posting the video there.
This is an interesting, innovative alternative way to take control of the situation. While, in the video, Walls threatens her daughter with physical violence if she goes online again, in response to the criticism she received from that comment, she assured everyone that her daughter was not actually in danger of being hurt. The video was a way to avoid physical punishment, and the threat was just to emphasize the seriousness of the situation.
This could be the start of a new wave of parenting: social media discipline. Social media has taken over every aspect of the lives of most people, so this would not be a surprising next step. It is interesting to consider, however many parents may not want to be put under the spotlight if their video berating their misbehaving child ends up going viral.
Forced public humiliation, often called “public shaming,” is becoming a popular form of non-violent punishment, and other parents have been publicly humiliating their children on social media for quite some time now. For example, the Tumblr blog called Reasons My Son Is Crying showcases parents’ photos of their toddlers crying and stating the ridiculous reasons for the tears of their young sons and daughters. The reasons range from understandable causes for tears, like being denied candy, to more absurd tearjerkers, like being told to bring their toys to the table to play with them while they eat. While this blog is for parents to come together and laugh at the silly things that their kids will cry over rather than to punish them, the latter isn’t a far stretch.
The Facebook video may be the next medium used for public humiliation-based discipline, as demonstrated by Lorraine Walls’s action to punish her daughter. While there is potential for the videos to go unexpectedly viral, like this one, the video will also serve its purpose by broadcasting scoldings to the friends and family of the child, making the punishment that much more effective.
By Robin Syrenne