herald

Saturday 17 November 2018

Amanda Brunker: 'Parents who shame their children online are ultimate bullies'

Home Alone
Home Alone

I have a love/hate relationship with social media, but when it comes to parents shaming their children for bad behaviour online, I 100pc hate it.

While I constantly battle with the dilemma of whether or not I should share photos of my children online and whether it is appropriate to ever let them appear on TV with me, I'm very clear where I lie on this front. The bandwagon of trying to publicly humiliate your children for naughty acts is something I will never jump on.

Regular readers will know my views on discipline. I'd like to think I'm fair but firm; I'm a big believer in the word, 'no,' and try to encourage other parents to use it more. We don't need to be best friends with our children, so don't fear occasionally upsetting them.

It's inevitable our children will disappoint us and be bold. It's part of growing up and learning what boundaries can be pushed. And while its important to push back, metaphorically speaking of course, you should never film them doing their penance in the hope that their pain will turn viral.

Firstly, you could be leaving yourself open to a court case - children have been known to sue their parents in the last couple of decades. There was the 11-year-old in America who divorced his parents to seek happiness with another family. Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin and Ariel Winters of Modern Family also sued their parents after they had squandered their money. And while I'm yet to hear of a child suing their mum or dad for mental anguish caused by an embarrassing social-media post, it could well happen.

There's about 35,000 child-shaming videos on YouTube. Indeed, endless hours of kids having their heads shaved, wearing embarrassing signs around their necks, and who could forget the infamous clip of a seven-year-old being made drink hot sauce by his mother? Thankfully, that mother got picked up by the police. What she did was pure bullying. Actually, it's worse than that, it was abuse. It was the equivalent of hitting her child. It was a psychological smack. And on top of that, she threw in some hot sauce for good measure.

It's not rocket science to understand that children will respect those who respect them. Bullying parents who publicly shame their kids, whether online or in front of crowds of people in public areas, must know that their humiliation causes fear, anxiety and hatred, not to mention self-loathing.

We all know the saying, 'Two wrongs don't make a right', well yes, it's a cliché, but a good one to live your life by. So when you feel the urge to expose your child to public displays of punishment, stop yourself. Be the adult, use your brain and not your camera phone to teach life lessons.

As the mother of two feisty boys, my patience is constantly tested. Since puberty has arrived, the dramas and arguments come thick and fast. But while our kids won't always do what they're asked - even when they're celebrating their 18th birthday, their 25th or about to turn 44! - they all still have the ability to cause their parents sleepless nights. Sorry mums, but mortifying your child online so that others can pass judgement and ridicule them is never acceptable.

This might sound far-fetched but it's happening. Don't be that tormentor on Twitter.

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