Friday, 2 November 2012

The Shirt of Shame.

Image source: The Ellen DeGeneres Show facebook page
Sometimes it's really hard, when you come across a picture that's been shared more than 30,000 times on facebook. 30,000 times that other people were in on a joke I'm certain isn't funny. What we have here, is no better than spanking.

Now, I'm aware in its country of origin it's perfectly acceptable to smack/spank your kids, and if that's acceptable, then what's on this picture certainly won't have a lot of people stand up and explain how this form of punishment a)won't work long term, and b) will create long term problems. That those who do are asking to be ridiculed and scoffed at. Told they have no sense of humour, or worse, be informed that they'll be raising a pack of hellions unfit for society, because "that's what happens when we don't instil a fear of punishment into our kids."

Another quote that's doing the rounds though, in many different forms, is one that says:
Most People are Only Alive Because it's Illegal to Shoot Them.
And it's the one that came immediately to mind when I saw the photo of those two little children in the shirt of shame. Not because I thought their parents needed shooting (let's get that clear, because I assume a lot of people thought that was where I was going) but because one is as ridiculous as the other.

I can safely say that NO person is alive today solely because I thought I might get in trouble if I shot them. I also believe that the threat of jail time isn't going to stop a person who sincerely wants to shoot another. It could make them do it in private, however.

Now, these kids are clearly being punished for pissing off one or both of their parents. Not because they weren't getting along, but because their squabbles were annoying.

How do I know this?

Well, because when people we love aren't getting along, and we care about that, we try to mediate and resolve the issue, don't we? If our friends are having a dispute, do we talk things through with them, or do we just ensure they shut up until we're not around? And these friends, we assume, are people who have already learned about resolving their own disputes growing up. The only reason we'd tell them to shut up until we weren't around would be because we both didn't care about the outcome and felt discomfort with the dispute.

So doesn't it make sense, that if the parents both didn't care about the outcome, and also felt discomfort with the dispute, that they wouldn't try to help resolve an issue that these kids were having trouble resolving themselves, but just get them to shut up about it?

Is it any different to this?

image source
If your children were having trouble understanding something at school, would you prefer them to be given extra help, or to be stuck in a dunce cap (shirt, whatever) for not getting it right? Does this form of shaming make them smarter people, or just resentful of the enforcers? Does it build their confidence and interpersonal skills, or does it make them feel small and helpless and stupid and unlovable?

A lot of comments on the "We Will Get Along" picture were to the effect of: Look how unhappy the girl is - it must be working ahahahaha. Of course she's unhappy. She's just been humiliated by one of the people who she should be able to trust more than anyone else. Humiliated, shamed, laughed at by the world, and not helped with her conflict difficulties in the slightest little bit.

Poor kids.

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