Father punishes son with public humiliation


On Tuesday a 16-year-old boy caught vandalizing at Wilson Classical High School in Long Beach, CA walked the streets for five hours with a sandwich board that read "I have wasted your tax money with dumb acts of vandalism in the public schools." His father made him wear the sandwich board.

Baltimore, Sr., found out about the vandalism Monday, when his son's school called him and told him the damages would cost $875. He said his son was trying to get attention when he tagged a fictitious gang logo on school property.

Baltimore, Jr., was suspended for four days, and ordered by the school to spend several days of his holiday vacation doing community service on Wilson's campus. He will be painting over graffiti and doing other chores.

Father Punishes Son with Public Humiliation


  1. My father did that to me many years ago when I was a kid. Suffice to say that I never, repeat NEVER, vandalized someone else’s property again.

  2. you know those photos of people’s licenses you see in liquor stores or mini-marts, the ones for people who used fake checks or bounced checks? they just don’t go back to those stores again…

  3. This is step one in good parenting. The next step is, after the kid spends the day getting humiliated, you take him out for ice cream, tell him you love him, that you’re proud he paid his dues, and say, “If you ever do that again, I’ll fucking kill you. Seriously.”

    Generally I’m against humiliation as a consequence. Too many have been scarred for life and the resulting rage gets directed onto others. Still, it does work when used rarely, intelligently, and lovingly.

  4. Not too long ago 3 youths got caught egging cars on my cul-de-sac. The police were called then their parents. The first parent to arrive scolded his son, then had him come over and listen to each of us tell him what a pain in the ass this was going to be. Then he was told to apologize and that if he was going to do things like this, he needed to understand the consequences. THEN he had to wash our cars at 3am.

    The other parents came, grabbed their kids, said nothing and left.

    I’m pretty sure 1 of the 3 might turn out alright but 2 won’t.

  5. Why not humiliate the kid? I’m sure it was rather humiliating for the parent to get that call about the idiot child.

    This is a lesson the kid WILL remember.

    Good job, dad. Seriously.

  6. Public humiliation is so *not* the way to handle this, not for a 16-year old. This is a time of life where *everything* revolves around face and peer pressure. This guy has just made his son every school bully’s (and even the bullies-in-training’s) punch for the rest of his high school career. He’s gonna start strangling cats, and then people.

    Yes he needs punishment. Perhaps sell his video games and ‘puter to raise the $875 (or his baseball equipment, bike, whatever he has). Perhaps ground him and have him paint the house. Community service, without doubt. Humiliation at the age of 16–no way. I’m guessing here, but do any of the “go humiliation” posters above actually *have* any teenagers at home?

  7. That’s bullshit. I did way worse than that when I was his age. I was never publicly humiliated. I turned out fine.

  8. Hopefully this will work for the teen and he won’t simply get angrier and distance himself from his family and school.

    And I hope he got ice cream.

  9. ..tagged a fictitious gang logo..

    Surely, the moment he tagged it, it became his “gang logo”. I mean, the tag didn’t come with a description of a fictitious gang, as part of a pretense. He tagged a thing, and now his crew is “fictitious”.. sheesh.

    Kid can’t catch a break.

  10. That is called being a parent. Well done.

    That’s some awfully childish parenting if you ask me.

    This is step one in good parenting. The next step is, after the kid spends the day getting humiliated, you take him out for ice cream, tell him you love him, that you’re proud he paid his dues, and say, “If you ever do that again, I’ll fucking kill you. Seriously.”

    What that teaches your child is that you enjoy manipulating people’s emotions.

    Just as George Bluth taught his kids “lessons”.

    What ever happened to parents being the mature ones?

  11. My sister taught high school English a few years back. Someone tagged the school with KKK crap. Later, they found out who did it, turns out the kid was running for Homecoming queen. They decided to remove her from the election as punishment.

    Of course, the parents sued the school (or perhaps threatened to sue) because they were wrecking her life by not letting her be the homecoming queen. The school relented, it was publicized, and the dumb kid lost.

    In reality, the dumb kid lost before she even ran. With parents like that, she really had no chance from the moment she was born.

    I know that #14 has a point, but the larger issue is letting your kid know and learn the consequences of their actions. Perhaps public humiliation isn’t the answer. But I’m glad to see that the parent has taken action as well. When I was growing up, ANYTHING the school did to me was irrelevant. What really mattered was what my folks would do – one hour of detention? Oh, I’ll spend it reading a book or something. BFD. But when my folks found out about it, I was royally screwed. Unless I had photographic evidence that the school screwed up and was wrong, they were going to take the school’s side on any issue, and even with evidence they would probably still take the school’s side just to be safe.

    I have a 12 year-old daughter, and three more younger boys hot on her heels. I know it’s going to be a rough decade or so…

  12. I’d say the father demonstrated quite clearly why his kid is a delinquent.

    That kind of theatrical eccentricity is the polar opposite of good parenting. Bottom line is that the father (more adolescent than his son) was clearly humiliated by his child’s actions. Father and son are both acting out. The difference between the two is that the boy is 16 and the father has no excuse for his “tagging.”

  13. Intelligent manipulation of emotion and mind is the responsibility of being a parent. I always thought so, anyways.

  14. Working in a library I’ve caught kids vandalizing from time to time. Parents react with everything from “Just tell me how much it costs” to “Next time, have him arrested.” The kids who’ve actually learned a lesson are the ones whose parents took it seriously, gave them a reasonable punishment (volunteering to do grunt work like sort book trucks or scrape gum from under tables) and did not over-react.

    A girl I caught stealing pages from a magazine (cutting pictures for homework) and called her mother. The woman was screaming from the second she laid eyes on her daughter, berating her and screeching about jail and prison. The kid was terrified. I finally had enough and said “Ma’am, the magazine is 6 dollars, make it seven with the tattle tape and processing. No one was hurt, the damage was minor and your daughter has been very apologetic. Please stop yelling at her.”

    Suddenly, she had a new person to yell at.

  15. Most of us are lucky enough to be allowed to forget the stupid stuff we did when we were kids.
    Sure there should be a consequence for property damage but unfortunately for this kid, his high school dumbassery has been immortalised on the internet.

  16. Dave367 @ #14 said, “Public humiliation is so *not* the way to handle this, not for a 16-year old. This is a time of life where *everything* revolves around face and peer pressure.”

    I’m not sure I agree with you, Dave. Perhaps this is the best time to “humiliate” the kid, precisely because his entire “economy,” such as it is, is defined by popularity, face, and peer pressure. This is the most immediate way to impress upon the kid the painful consequences of his actions, and it is no more agonizing than making the dad cough up $875 for his son’s poor. Plus, as you note, at this age everything revolves around face and peer pressure, which means that every adolescent experiences shame and humiliation at some point, if not regularly; most do not grow into sociopaths or hopeless neurotics.

    I also prefer “shame” to “humiliate” since the former concept still has some positive connotations.

    The potential problems I can see with using this technique include doing it regularly, doing it with the wrong motivation (e.g., to pay him back for your own embarrassment.), or doing it without also communicating the continuing love and support of the parent. That’s why poster #8 (Themiddleroad) mentioned doing it “rarely, intelligently, and lovingly.”

  17. This would work, if the kids’ name was on the board, and people remembered this kind of thing.

    The kid will eventually figure out – or be told – that no-one will remember his face in two years, and it will be ineffectual.

  18. as a parent, and someone who believes in personal responsibility, I like it.

    Yeah yeah, theatrics, whatever. That kid will NOT do it again.

    I very much agree with #8. After, ya gotta talk with kid, remind ’em ya love him, but that action is unacceptable.

  19. This seems like a dangerous thing for a father to do to the son who’ll be picking out his nursing home someday.

  20. When I was a teenager my Dad told me something that has stuck with me ever since: “If you think you are adult enough to get into trouble, you’re adult enough to get out of it on your own. Don’t call us (my parents) if you get your ass thrown in jail because we won’t bail you out.”

    Some people may think that’s harsh, but kids need to know that they have to be responsible for their actions and accept the consequences. An adult is someone who doesn’t run from the consequences they face.

  21. Good parenting… won’t guarantee the kid never does it again but at least the old dude is trying…

    Trying and doing it wrong can make him worse, you know.

    Imagine if I said:

    Good doctoring… won’t guarantee the patient heals, but at least he tried some drugs on him.”

    Parents would be wise to remember the same “do no harm” oath.

    Intelligent manipulation of emotion and mind is the responsibility of being a parent. I always thought so, anyways.

    You’re confusing parenting with evil again.

  22. When I was a teenager my Dad told me something that has stuck with me ever since: “If you think you are adult enough to get into trouble, you’re adult enough to get out of it on your own. Don’t call us (my parents) if you get your ass thrown in jail because we won’t bail you out.”

    Some people may think that’s harsh, but kids need to know that they have to be responsible for their actions and accept the consequences. An adult is someone who doesn’t run from the consequences they face.

    On the flip-side, tell that to all the “helicopter parents” who push their children into activities that they didn’t pursue of their own volition — who didn’t want to “get into it” in the first place.

    I think the jury is still out whether most parents do more harm than good to their offspring.

  23. Zuzu @32 “Trying and doing it wrong can make him worse, you know.”

    Unfortunately, my daughter did not come with a manual. And “doing no harm” is far easier said than done—just ask a Jain philosopher; if prefer the strategy of “try not to fuck up too often.” There’s no way to know ahead of time every consequence of all your myriad parental decisions, which is why my parenting has tended to focus on communication, reflection, reconsideration, discipline vs. punishment, etc. It’s not much help relying on the opinions of experts either, because those continually change with new research, discoveries, fads, etc.

    “I think the jury is still out whether most parents do more harm than good to their offspring.”

    I won’t disagree with you. Alas, I’m coming to see that this is true of damn near everything in life. History looks to me like a dialectical dance of unintended consequences, and so it’s no surprise that our evolution from newborns to adults is fraught with the same kind of dangers.

  24. What’s going on in the father’s mind? If I had damaged school property in a similar way, my dad would have selected a very very simple way to teach me a lesson: I would have had to pay for the repair. $875 is a sum which would have gobbled up almost my entire childhood savings, and this would have had bothered me a lot more than a walk through town carrying a stupid sign…


  25. So now we have a kid who for 5 hours has felt completely abandoned by every adult in the universe. I guess that he’s old enough to draw his own conclusions from that. And I also guess that it is very likely that these conclusions will persist further than what will be good for anybody.
    With or without ice cream and assurances of love afterwards. No, make that *amplified* by ice cream and assurances of love afterwards.

  26. @ #30
    I feel that if parents thought first of their nursing home possibilities, they would be too afraid of their children to make mature parenting decisions.

    Honestly, as a 19-year-old, I know that this would have been incredibly useful had I done anything like this as a teenager. Some of the most powerful “punishments” my parents used made me publicly own up to my shortcomings. All this talk of “strangling rabbits” and “becoming the new bully”… I suppose it depends on the kid. But I can’t imagine that this one event, however unfortunately immortalised on the internet it may be, would be the breaking point for this kid.

    I think many posters have neglected the individualism that is parenting. We don’t know how the father-son relationship is, whether this was lovingly done or not, and therefore trying to affirm or reject this punishment is completely impossible.

  27. But I can’t imagine that this one event, however unfortunately immortalised on the internet it may be, would be the breaking point for this kid.

    For any kid of adequate intelligence, PeerB has it exactly right. Eating ice cream and fantasizing about how to make the father choke to death on it.

    If the kid otherwise manages to grow up healthy, it’ll just be a point of resentment he tells his shrink about. If the kid can’t get over it, expect him to perform another Columbine / VA Tech.

  28. If the kid’s just being a kid, this will work fine. Although, so would many other methods of punishment. If the kid’s a sociopath, it won’t. They don’t feel shame anyway. It may even make it worse. Of course, if that’s the problem, we’ve got bigger problems.

    The punishment’s got to be tailored to the kid.

  29. I would like to thank all of the above commenters for their sage parenting advice. Thanks to the shared wisdom of all my fellow non-parents here at BB, I now feel well-equipped to raise a child. Heck, I might even adopt a teenager tomorrow!

  30. As a parent of a sixteen year old who is giving back to me everything I gave to my parents I’ll say this about punishment. You do what works for the child in question. We went through lots of concepts without result but Obama’s pre-election speech about civic duty and public service gave me an idea that worked. He now spends his Saturday mornings at the San Francisco Food Bank. He has instructions not to wake me up as he leaves. I like to sleep in on Saturdays too.

  31. Assuming that most of the commenters on this thread are from the US it is possible to get some understanding of why so many US citizens are behind bars.
    Only a small minority here seems preoccupied with understanding *why* the kid acted as he did. As if there is a general opinion that reaching this understanding by definition is inferior to immediate punishment as a means of caring for him, educating him and avoiding repetitons in the future.
    Oh by the way, I’m born in the US, raised in Denmark and live in Italy.

  32. I’m with 36. Without knowing more about the kid and the family, it’s impossible to say what the result of using this kind of consequence might be.

    That said, as a social worker who works with teens, this is not the kind of consequence I would use. When possible I prefer to have the kid come up with what they think would be an appropriate way to resolve the situation. It usually results in them really considering what they have done, remembering the consequence for awhile, and refraining from repeating the offense while still feeling validated/trusted. And usually, they come up with something more severe than I would have. Obviously this isn’t an approach you can use if the kid won’t admit wrongdoing or accept the seriousness of what they’ve done, but often this works well for me.

    If you think my comment is invalid because I don’t have kids of my own, well, your loss. Ignore what I’ve said and move on.

  33. Why the overanalyzing of “why” this kid did the vandalism? He’s a dumb kid. I was, you were. Actions=Consequences. Too many people would just pay the money and ignore their kids.

    The punishment is great.

  34. I’m still trying to figure out how the kid wasted anyone’s tax money if the school charged the kid’s family and made the kid clean it up.

  35. I have to agree with TrueBluez. We can’t judge this story until we know more about the kid’s relationship with his father.

    Geektronica, you’re being snotty. You have no idea how many of the people you’re addressing are parents, and you can’t be sure the non-parents are giving bad advice.

  36. I would hope the father takes the time to consider and ask the kid what he was trying to accomplish with his actions. He wants attention? Make sure he’s well aware of all the artistic endeavors he can undertake that will get him positive recognition instead of community service. Was he just seeking notoriety with some slimy element of his peer circle? Maybe he needs to be shown what appeasing those kinds of people will get him in the long run (a prison term, most likely). I mean, okay, the kid now knows the consequences of costing people time and money, but he also needs to know how to deal with his motivations. If possible. It’s also possible he’s too dumb, shortsighted, and selfish to give two shits about the bigger picture. Which could be the parents’ fault, or it could just be in the kid’s firmware. (another debate)

  37. “This is a lesson the kid WILL remember.

    Good job, dad. Seriously. “

    “Why’d you kill your father, kid?”

    “Remember that sign he made me wear?”

    “Good point. Ok, let’im go, Murph. Case closed.”

  38. This punishment isn’t for every kid. But it is a valid one and I commend the dad for not only doing his duty, but also being creative as well.

    Those of you who would seek to limit the embarrassment that the punishment may cause this kid: get a clue! The kid needs to learn consequences. Embarrassment is one tool among many. Selling treasured possessions to fix the problem is another. Showing him the physical labor of fixing his misdeeds by having him clean it up is a third.

    The one that the parent deems most effective is the one that will be used. This is a judgment call. Only the parents know their kid well enough to make such a punishment fit the crime.

    I say this as a father of three. They’re all individuals, even at a young age. Do whatever you deem best for them, and be creative.


  39. I honestly think that many (most) of these comments are premature. We do not know what kind of father we’re dealing with here. He might be the kind that believes in tough love, but assures his children that he loves them every day in which case this boy might see that there’s something bigger going on here. He might also be a vindictive mean bastard of a man in which case this is likely the latest in a long line of abuses.

    This REALLY matters and we do not have enough information to pass judgement at this time.

    Oh and to the guy that said that intelligent manipulation of emotions is “evil”: Really? never wanted to carefully make a kid feel JUST bad enough for some indiscretion? You want to make sure they know it’s wrong but not make them feel like the world’s ending. If that’s not careful intelligent manipulation of emotion I don’t know what is.

  40. Counseling not enough? Community service not enough? No! He must be publicly humiliated!

    Why not public humiliate all criminals? You could spend a day with a sandwich board saying “I’m a really, really bad driver.” Why stop at minors? Oh, of course, because we can get away with it.

    Presumably a sixteen year-old could be rehabilitated. But that wouldn’t satisfy our lust for vengeance.

  41. hey Antinous I think you’re on to something there. Perhaps there should be more public shame in our justice system. It may not work for everyone but I have a feeling it might work for a lot! Avoidance of shame can be a powerful motivation.

  42. @elsmiley,

    I was sent out to be humiliated the few times I got caught (err. did something wrong). I ended up alright.

    @Everyone Else.
    Some parents are alright with the occasional show of consequences, and then explaining that you still love the child but some actions require consequences.

    Then you have other parents who humiliation is like a gateway drug. Next they move to verbal humiliation, and derogatory remarks. Then to physical abuse. Maybe a backhand, or closed fist backhand. Next it is a belt a few times, then it is the belt till they relieve their stress. Finally some graduate to hot wheel tracks . Those are particularly wonderful, the two rails underneath almost always draw blood with each hit. Then because the child passes out from the pain, they can be strapped, and out come the hot wheel tracks again until the thighs, butt and lower back look like a scene from “Roots”. After all you don’t ever learn your lesson if you cannot feel the full effect of the strike, so off with the pants, shorts and shirt buddy… OR at least that was what I was told.

    And I think I ended up alright, unfortunately I just cannot bring myself to buy my son any hot wheel tracks though. As the earlier people said,used in moderation by the right parent it can be an effective tool.

  43. Yes, punishments need to be tailored to the child. Judging from the look on his face, the fact that the father took the crime seriously, and the kid going through with it, I’d say he’ll be fine and it probably will work for him. Would this turn a kid into a psycho? No, though it might make a psycho more psycho. Would this work for a kid with horrible self-esteem? Probably not. A well-adjusted kid (a rarity, I admit) would turn it into a popularity booster.

    Working with kids, I see many different parenting styles. The parents who feel free to snap at their kids when they screw up, but also feel free to give a hug, kiss, and compliment, are the ones who tend to produce the well-rounded, achieving, socially capable offspring. The ones who are all hugs-and-kisses positive end up producing socially incompetent, miserable idealists. Of course genetic personality plays into it all, but parenting holds sway most of the time.

  44. I used to live next door to a very patriarchal father with 4 aggressive sons.

    If he felt that they had done wrong, he would punish then mercilessly – taking an oxy-acetylene torch to their bikes, grounding them for a month, two months at a stroke, crushing whatever they held dear at the time.If he felt they had done no wrong, there would be no consequences.

    Given an “either I am innocent, or I am guilty” framework to live within, they all 4 became the most convincing liars I have ever met.

  45. This will not make the kid better and it may destroy his future chances. It may help the father get attention and money.

  46. #18 a gang of one is like a conspiracy of one ie. impossible.

    Everyone’s got their own opinion on parenting and short of them doing anything criminal (and actually being prosecuted for it) there isn’t anything anyone can do about another’s parenting.

    Whether this was the correct way to deal with the situation is hard to say without knowing the real situation, the parent and the child. It’s very easy to pass judgement when you aren’t there or involved.

    I could go into the various implications for each party, but I’ll save time: If this was done to me as a punishment, by anyone, at any time in my life, then that person had better watch their back. It just takes time and patience, sooner or later you will be in a position to really damage them (I speak from experience. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again). The child might be nothing like me, but maybe he is – you see how badly this kind of thing can end.

  47. I’m an alumni of this high school (go Bruins!)
    and I think this parent is one of the reasons why this high school continues to be one where people still move in order for their kids to attend there.

    Parenting is a case-by-case issue, and while I am not fond of humiliation or spanking as punishment on a regular basis, I’d rather have a parent going towards the harsher end of the spectrum and making an impression than blaming the school or “society” as too many slacker-parents do.

    Like Heinlen noted, the world is a cruel place that doesn’t allow second chances, and it’s a parent’s job to make sure that their children learn to follow laws before they leave the home.

    It’s entirely possible that this parent had used gentler methods before, but the kid was too busy being a stubborn hormonal asshat (aka teenager) for those methods to make a change in his behavior.

    And when you’re raising a black son in a city like Long Beach you have little room for misbehavior or error. Gang activity and a very watchful (and impatient) police presence make it a dangerous place for any youthful indiscretion. My black friends keep a watchful eye and a firm hand on their sons for good reason. The fact that this kid is enrolled in the classic high school charter program is a sign that his Dad is doing right by his son.

    I had a few acquaintances do service hours when I was attending there. The kids who did service hours when I was there were irritated by the lost time, but it didn’t change their attitudes or actions.
    This kid’s loss of free time doing service hours would be personally inconvenient, but since the school is virtually deserted during the holiday, and the school campus is built in a closed circle, his service hours would be unobserved by the community or his peers (the people that really count in the kid’s eyes).

    This placard made him look like an idiot in front of his peers and made him experience concrete, in-person fallout of his actions.
    And it might have been embarrassing, but his dad didn’t take a belt to him or black his eye, and it was clear that the parent was there with his son the entire time.
    And better a placard and an irate dad than a edgy cop with an itchy trigger finger catching you tagging late at night.

  48. “Confucius got his first job when he was twenty years old. He was in charge of the granary of the house of Chi, and he was famous because of the fairness of his measures. Then he became the person who looked after the cattle and the sheep, and the cattle and the sheep multiplied quickly. After a while, he got a promotion to be a minister of public work like construction of buildings. One day, when he was taking care of the cattle and sheep, a shepherd boy told Confucius that one of the sheep was stolen. Confucius asked, “Do you know who did this?” The boy answered, “It was my father.” Confucius thought for a while and shouted at the boy,” You didn’t do your job well because you lost the sheep, and you are not a good son because you told other people about your father’s sin. You made two big mistakes, so wait for your punishment.” Someone said to Confucius, “What this boy said was right and he was just telling the truth, so what is wrong with it?” Confucius explained,” The relationship between father and son is based on the kindness and filial actions. Therefore, it is right if the father covers for the children or the children cover for the father if any of them did something wrong. How could you say that it is honest when the son tells other people that his father has done wrong?”

  49. I am wondering what went awry in the parenting style that caused the kid to think that tagging was acceptable in the first place…

  50. Where I grew up, I’d have breathed a sigh of relief if all I got was public humiliation.

    HOWEVER, I learned from that. Property damage is awfully minor compared to people damage. Property damage can be paid back by really low-paying, crappy work. $3 an hour sounds about right.

    As for what the parents ‘did’ to ‘make tagging acceptable’ … even great parents are sometimes rewarded with kids who do something stupid. Because, if you remember, you’re not always thinking at that age.

  51. There are parents on the comments here, and there are those who think they know better than everyone else. Those of us who actually are parents can tell the difference.

    Raising a child is an art. Art is about communication. Some people are better at it than others. There will be people who are very understanding, assertive, and creative; and then there are those who are domineering jerks, flaccid doormats, or who are simply missing.

    Oddly enough you can find all these behaviors in the same person at different times. Parents are human too.

    Those of you who think you know better deserve to learn about raising children by actually doing it. Until you’ve actually been there, you really have no idea what it’s like.

  52. Not only do I believe the father is acting out of humiliation, but perhaps anger and rage for having to pay the son’s fine.

    Yes, it’s an assumption.

    If the gang logo is fictitious, then perhaps this wasn’t just an adolescent “acting out” for attention, but it should also be treated as a sign of repressed creativity. Let’s hope he can find a way to continue practicing art and expressing himself, albiet in a less “damaging” manner.

  53. At first glance it seems like a good idea but there’s definitely possibility for severe problems down the road for the kid, depending on the parent and kid. I suspect problems myself. But without knowing the people it’s impossible to say.

    I split from my ex 9 years ago. 3 Kids. 5 years ago I called to her her house on a Saturday afternoon (turned out she was out) and my eldest son was there, with his mates, smoking dope, aged about 17 at the time. His younger siblings were also in the house. (It was a new Local Authority House btw, i.e. Government-provided). (Europe)

    Now when I was a teenager/young man I smoked dope, (don’t now) so I couldn’t in good conscience tell him he was wrong there.

    I tried to decide what to do. Eventually I asked him to write me a considered essay for me on why what he did was wrong. I rejected the first attempt as an intellectually lazy teenage diatribe about why dope was ok. I told him to consider the possible effects (police, mother losing house, effects on younger siblings) and write about that.

    He’s now 22. He’s the greatest young man in the world (we had a difficult relationship when he was growing up, my fault) whom I prefer to spend time with more than anyone else. I’m pretty certain he still smokes dope. I don’t care. He’s a responsible, intelligent well educated man.
    It’s one the few good things I ever did.

    You’ll make more mistakes than you think as a parent. By the time you realise it’s generally too late. The most important mistakes are the ones you make when the kids are very young.It’s your early years that shape you, especially before the age of 10/12. You most likely won’t realise the deep psychological effects of your parents actions until you’re in your thirties or forties.

  54. My dad made me do something like this when I was a kid…I “stole” (more like found) this kid’s toy car in the bathroom of our church and took it home…dad went to the front of the church and told everyone about it and that I was sorry for taking “that which doesn’t belong to him…”

    …Church of 500…yup, great.

  55. If I could go out on a limb here, nearly all conflicting the parenting philosophies here do so because they pick one of two primary goals for parenting:

    1. Having a healthy relationship with the child.
    2. Producing a good citizen.

    Of course there’s a balance, but I think most parenting strategies ultimately fall into one of these two camps (disclaimer: I do not have kids. But I am a psychology student, have read up a lot on this, have been reading parenting and psychology pop-press books from all over the spectrum since at least nine years old. So I don’t know how to parent. But I do know about parenting, as a concept)

    The dad here just happens to fall into category 2.

    And wow, Tizroc, I’d almost forgotten about hotwheels tracks. Yeesh.

  56. whatever happened to assuring the propagation of your genes by producing the most ruthless, competitively successful vehicle for doing so?

  57. Believe it or not, there is a woman in my area who who does this regularly. She has a son and they live in an apartment complex on a busy road. Last summer, she had her poor son out there every week with a different sandwich board stating his various “crimes”. That woman I believe, is a total psycho and I feel sorry for her child. Obviously, her method of punishment is not effective. However, if used rarely, like maybe once in a lifetime, this could have an impact. Also, I feel that in this case it is rather applicable, because vandalism of a public school is a taxpayer issue. If I had done this (and I did commit similar offenses as a kid), I would only be concerned with the consequences of dealing with my parents and the school. I would never even think about the impact on my community. This action forces the kid to interact with members of the community, which I don’t necessarily think is a bad thing.

  58. If you ask me, I think the father’s punishment is childish and discouraging. No, I don’t know what kind of relationship or history father and son have, but a little creativity and genuine concern might help him devise a more useful consequence for vandalism. I’m not convinced this whole humiliation tactic will scar this kid for life, or turn him into a sociopath. On the other hand, this type of punishment stigmatizes the child and the bad behavior. If, in fact, this kid was looking for attention then he certainly got it. With this type of punishment, it is more likely the kid will just get better at being bad because this has become his niche’. If the father could look beyond his own embarrassment and anger, he might find out the kid’s intentions and come up with a consequence that both pays for the damages and addresses the child’s needs that are not being met. Which has more utility shame and humiliation or open communication and community service?

  59. @Shelby Davis:

    The irony? People who try for #1 end up with kids that hate them in the long run along with not being able to cope with reality. People who try for #2 have to put up with their young children telling them they hate them, but end up with a healthy relationship with their children in the long run.

  60. @ Ivan256

    In my experience, it’s been that children raised according to #2 never speak to their parents ever again once they’re able to leave for good. (This seems particularly true for children who grew up in the USA mid-west — such as Iowa and Nebraska — and moved to one of the coastal cities — such as NYC or SF.)

    While children raised according to #1 are able to fashion a sustainable and personally rewarding life for themselves without culminating in a midlife crisis or reading books like Who Moved My Cheese?

  61. Speaking of vandalism, we had an act of vandalism recently in our school that was just really stupidity.

    There’s a second floor, which doesn’t continue all the way- it’s basically a long hallway with a bridge over the front foyer into another large office. The bridge overlooks the first floor, with the stairwell on one side, and a railing on the other. Approximately ten feet from the railing, perhaps more, there’s a ledge to the front wall, which is composed mostly of glass. The ledge is made of tile and is the top half of the doors.

    Every student who has ever passed through this bridge has wondered how damn awesome it would be to jump the gap.

    Hell, even teachers have. It’s just perfect for a jump.

    For the first time in the fifty years of the school’s construction (or so I’m told, definitely the first time in the last twenty five years), somebody did.

    Promptly crashed through the tile since it was hollow, of course, but now they’re a legend, and everyone who knows Stephen has given him money to pay the damages. Even the AP in charge of discipline who was chastising Stephen for it gave him props.

    And since the school will be torn down this next fall, it’s basically the best senior memory ever.


    Random anecdote over.

    As a seventeen year old, if I was stupid enough to vandalize, especially on a large scale (I may or may not have carved things into desks when I was in grade school. The statute of limitations is over that long ago, right?)- I’d deserve a punishment like this.

    And I’d tell my parents I hated them for it.

    But I’d instantly be famous for what I did, and everybody would console me over what horrible parents I had and I’d feel justified in acting out again, because, man, my parents just don’t understand.

  62. not vandalism. Vandalism would have been throwing a school computer through the tiles. Jumping oneself is reckless stupidity resulting in property damage, but not vandalism.

  63. Interesting debate.

    And one on which I have to comment based on my own experience with our daughter when she was about 16 and going through a punk “bad grrrlz” phase. She and a friend got drunk one saturday night and tagged a plumber’s truck. Friend used her own initials and we got called to the State Police barracks to discuss. We copped a plea to some juvie probation thing and had to pay the plumber $1000. We quietly paid on behalf of both kids.

    Yeah, there was hell to pay for a while at home, but public humiliation or letting the kid be jailed, etc. as some here have suggested, seems a bad idea, especially for a first offense of this sort. I agree with those who feel this kind of further public humiliation would be counterproductive and only scar the poor kids’ psyche. If I were his dad, I’d watch my back too, for life.

    Anyway, daughter turned out fine. Studying to be an elementary school teacher, and recently completed a years’ stint in Americorp tutoring poor kids and doing Katrina disaster relief.

    BTW, she also got some lessons about bad publicity during her punk/goth/skateboarder kid period, but not at our hands. No, she stupidly agreed to talk to a newspaper reporter and be photographed for an article on “those skateboard kids”, and was astonished when the not entirely flattering story turned up in print with her own incriminating words.

    I suspect MySpace is serving a similar function today for a lot of kids, judging by how frequently scandals are launched in high school these days by candid camera pics of Saturday’s illegal keg party.

  64. The problem for this kid now is that his “public humiliation” is now on Boing Boing and for the rest of his life his name – when entered in search engines for college, job applications, potential dates, etc. etc. – is going to show up as this 16 year old kid. A little harsh if you ask me.

  65. I have two boys, 14 and 16. This, of course, does not give me qualification to comment reasonably on this particular fathers action… (waiting for the ‘but’? There is not one). Each parent has responsibility for his child’s upbringing; each is a ward on behalf of the State. If you don’t believe me on the second clause of the last sentence, just try and do something to you child against your local “child protection”.

    Nevertheless, for the most part, it is your job to do the best you can do with whatever resources you have. So this guy chose humiliation. Maybe he KNEW that this would work with his child. It certainly would not work with either of mine, and so I would not even try it. I can see circumstances when it might.

    I firmly believe that effective parenting (Ucgh!!) begins at the earliest possible moment. A good few ‘pleases’and ‘thankyou’s,’ go an inestimable way to heading off the sort of thing I read constantly about regarding anti-social behavior in our teens.

    (Then again I am from Britain… the place where we hate and demonize our poor kids. Why, I do not know)

  66. Once I knew an angry and combative 4-yr-old — he tried to beat up on people, because that’s what he had learned — youngest of four, he had to fight for *any* attention, and some was better than none. I told him that for many people, sweetness trumped violence, and today he’s the only sib with a post-secondary education. I like to think I gave him the right information at the right time, for his own mind to assess.

    I try to teach my nephew to be gently manipulative, compliments and self-deprecation being an effective tool. (even if I’ve always sucked at it) By now, he doesn’t even respond to punishment (Really? C’mon! Oh well…)

    Personally I couldn’t lie to save my life, and am autistic-level socially inept as well, and though a part of me wants to foist blame on my parents as I did when I was younger, I know they tried their best and I am quite weird.

    Humanity is varied and confusing — anyone not matching your personal pathology is alien.

  67. Why is it that many people are against humiliating prisoners, even high profile terrorists, by making them wear underwear on their head and similar degrading acts, but many people have no problem letting a kid like this be publicly humiliated for something comparatively minor?

  68. YES YES YES!!!!! I love it. Too often parents take the kid’s side. This is a harmless – the kid isn’t gonna be scarred for the month, let alone life. The kid will learn that dad means business and isn’t gonna put up with nonsense.

    He’s infinitely better off than the kid with the parents who essentially shrugged.

    I’m guessing the father is a fan of Curb Your Enthusiasm. If you are, you know what I’m talking about.

  69. Of course, the kid may be cool as all hell and a burgeoning graffiti talent. Maybe he’d grow up to be a skilled writer and make it into a rewarding career.

    If that was my kid, I’d definitely have to take a look at the quality of his work before deciding whether or not to punish him.

  70. It simply boggles my mind how many people here don’t realize that a little bit of embarrassment can be incredibly instructive ( in a good way ).

    I noticed that most of the people who criticized this saw it as some form of abject *humiliation*, while those of us who think it could have been effective ( for the right kid ) see it as a transient *embarrassment* meant to get the kid to see the larger context of his action, and its consequences.

    Humiliating a child ( or an adult , or almost adult ) is pretty much never helpful or instructive. It is essentially an act of revenge. Embarrassment is a social response meant to be instructive. In this case, to teach that Vandalism of other’s property is bad, and there are social, personal and financial consequences.

    The question of whether this is the right punishment depends entirely on the kid, and his relationship with his parents. If his relationship with his parents is not too bent ( eg, he knows his parents are not going to arbitrarily and capriciously hurt him for no reason ), then ( again, for some kids ), this is a great lesson.

    It would have been a disaster for me since at that age I was already so withdrawn that I was all but immune, but for my nephew, something akin to this was a real wake up call. It put him in a position where he saw the real consequences of his actions, and he had to explain himself to strangers and hear what they had to say in response.

    A few people really ripped into him, but in general, most people tried to be instructive. A lot of people who didn’t know him or his parents told him much the same thing we had, in enough different ways that he got it.

    Short of physical or emotional abuse, never assume anything about what will or won’t work for a child unless you have a personal relationship with them. Parents have always, and will continue to get it wrong as often as they get it right.

    We, as friends, relatives, educators, mentors, neighbors and acquaintances can only do the best we can to be there for those kids when their parents don’t get it, or just make a mistake – as we will hope others will be there for ours when we screw up, and as someone was there for me when I needed it.

  71. this is disgusting. That is psychological torture.
    Doing something like that is ilegal to do to prisoners. Putting a child up in public to be laughed at..by onlookers…I can only imagine how frightened this kid is of his dad to go along with this. This “parent” has made it impossible for his kid to get any decent job, or into a decent college, even, with this act. He deliberately has destroyed his kid’s opprotunities in life because of his misplaced rage and desire for dominance.

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