Florida mom Melany Joyce Alexander’s shaming punishment backfired. Alexander sent her bruised child to school wearing a shirt bragging up the “good woopin” received, reported the Washington Post Feb. 24. The kid’s crime? Poor grades. Mom objected to an F grade point average. Alexander was arrested and charged with child abuse.
The child (whose age and gender aren’t being released to protect his/her privacy) arrived with bruises on the neck, arms and back. Alexander’s intention was to beat and humiliate the child into academic improvement. Police say Alexander used a belt with metal on it to “woop” the child.
The T-shirt, written in juvenile handwriting, sub-literate grammar and flawed punctuation, was apparently made by one of the parents. It read:
“My name is [redacted for privacy]. I currently have all F’s in all of my classes. I am not aloud to have a boyfriend no time soon. So back off before I get another good woopin like I got last night. Also I can no longer have any friends until all of my F’s are all brought up to C’s and up!!!”
The back of the T-shirt reads: “So unless you are helping me with this goal … back off!!! My eating French fries and being a social butterfly is over because I know why my parents send me to school. I now know the IMPORTANCE of my education. I will learn. I will listen to my teachers and be respectful, at all times. I will do these things because I am failing [redacted] due to my social life. Want to be my friend : ) Help me by not!!!”
The T-shirt itself set up red flags with school officials. Parents publicly shaming kids into good behavior is becoming increasingly popular, especially with the advent of the internet. The high visibility gives humiliation maximum exposure. Parents try to outdo each other with more outre embarrassments: wearing signs, standing on street corners, dads shooting laptops and other attention-seeking tactics.
But educators cast a dubious eye on such behavior. Public humiliation is sometimes more parent posturing that correction. It rarely improves behavior. It disrupts the classroom. Parents should consider goals and consequences carefully before they attempt shaming children. They should get family and school on board and only use in drastic situations. Most of all, parents should consider the example they’re setting.
The beating was obviously a parenting fail. But if Alexander wants her kid to improve grades, she should set a good example and improve her own English grammar. The child’s teacher should red pencil T-shirt errors and send it back to Alexander for correction!
What’s your take on public humiliation of kids? Effective, or just silly?