The Sign of Shame, Yay or Nay?


A few weeks back there was an article on social media that caught my eye. A desperate mother had her son stand on a street corner holding a sign reading, “I like to bully handicapped kids.” She felt the sign of shame would be enough to smarten him up.

After all, what’s a mother to do?

I read the article in which the mother had tried everything. She had taken away the electronics, grounded him, and taken away allowance money, all to no avail. My mom would have done the same as well as tanned our hides, if the first round of discipline didn’t work … but, that action nowadays results in authorities shaming you with cuffs and a court appearance.

Ahhh, the good ol’ days, when parents had the upper hand on discipline. It’s now but a fading memory.

In my 17 yrs of working with youth, I’ve had my fair share of little “Angels”. Each were special in their own way, of course.

You try everything you are required by law to do.

  • You explain the consequences of their actions.
  • You try to have them realize that bullying is not a proper action to be doing to fellow classmates, regardless of handicaps, race, creed etc.
  • You ask the parents to help relay the message at home, in hopes that the child sees the way and ends the bullying.

My classroom was a family and, even though family members have difference of opinions and we might not see eye to eye, at the end of the day, we never mistreated or disrespected a member of our family.

I did anti-bullying activities with them and, in fact, the school that I worked at took up the initiative throughout the entire school. It was a huge success.

There was no bullying and everyone treated each other with respect. Parents even praised the great job we had accomplished.

Maybe I should put my Anti Bullying materials together and create a program that can be incorporated into the school boards and classrooms. Because, it seems, the current curriculum is not working.

Tons of money is spent each year on mental health initiatives and anti-bullying campaigns, but it boils right down to the environment in which the child is being raised.

I don’t know the whole story about the teen on the corner, only what I read in the article. If she is honest in what she has said, that she had tried everything and nothing worked, then I can understand her last resort to having her son stand on the corner holding his sign.

I do ask myself, though, had she really sat down to figure out why he was doing the bullying in the first place?

Had she sat with the school authorities and asked the questions?

Had the school suggested meetings to discuss the situation, or did they just send notes home and make phone calls?

Had there been any sort of collaboration on both parties to get to the bottom of the situation?

Was there any in-depth communication at all?

The latest follow up article was that the Children’s Aid Society was now involved.

Oh don’t get me started on the CAS. They are good for some instances, but in the majority of cases, I find they enable children to misbehave.

The CAS seem to have an ideology that all are perfect children, when some clearly have serious mental and behavioural issues going on. I find that the CAS likes to point the finger at the parent instead of clearly trying to understand the whole situation.

Every case is different. There are no two alike. One cookie cutter solution usually doesn’t work for all.

Sometimes, I feel they do more harm than good, when it comes to families.

I hope, in this case, they don’t ridicule the mother and actually look at why the child is the way he is. I truly hope they do a good deed here, and try to help both the parent and the child with a workable solution.

Like I said, I’m only speculating on what I read from the mother’s side of the story. I’m not an insider to this situation.

Do I feel the child is going to be scarred for life standing on a street corner holding the Sign of Shame? Hell no … he’s darn lucky he’s living in 2017 and not in the 1970’s when I was a child and the belt would hit your backside for doing such nonsense at school.

Standing on the street corner with a sign would have been the cat’s meow compared to back in the day. God, I’m starting to sound old.

Anyway, just my 5 cents worth. I have to round-up now, seeing we no longer have pennies in Canada.

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About the Author

Heather Burton

Heather is a contributing writer to the Square Media Group. Her articles reflect her insightful and witty personality on events from politics to everyday living. Heather has called the Windsor area “home” for over 35yrs.
Email Heather Burton