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Public Humiliation? One Mom Says Go for It!

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Is this okay?

When Meredith Smith found out her son stole money and her sister's cell phone, she decided to lay down the law. She forced her 12-year-old son to stand on a busy street corner for two hours holding an "I'm a thief and a liar" sign as punishment.

humiliating sign

"I just thought if I embarrassed him for a bit, he'd straighten up," Smith told momlogic. "I'll do anything within reason."

While she's tried grounding, spanking and talking to her son, Smith hasn't been able to get through to him. But is public humiliation really the answer?

"I do think it was necessary because nothing else was working," says Smith. Smith doesn't believe the punishment was traumatizing for her son.

While the boy has apologized, Smith still isn't sure if he learned his lesson. "It's too early to tell just yet, but I think it's possible," says Smith. Her hope is to teach him "a little humility."

According to Smith, most of her friends and neighbors agree with her unconventional way of disciplining. "Not one person has said it was a bad idea," says Smith. "They all said, 'Way to go!'"

Do you think this mom was too tough on her son?

mom defends publicly gallery

13 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jennifer December 3, 2008, 12:45 PM

I think that is a great idea! Better to learn the lesson now then when he is 18 and in jail.

jackie December 3, 2008, 3:02 PM

I think it’s really up to each family to decide what type of punishment best suites each child. Not sure what I would do as a parent in that situation, but I sure wouldn’t do the “crime” again if I were the child!

Steve December 3, 2008, 9:53 PM

Nice way to build up some good bitterness and hatred.

Hope you like the rest home he sends you to.

Kate December 7, 2008, 5:50 AM

Violence begets violence. Hopefully when you are old and senile, difficult, making childish mistakes, your kids will beat and humiliate you in return. Why? Thats what you taught them to do.

Chris King December 8, 2008, 12:16 PM

Steve and Kate, grow a spine would ya. Sometimes a bit of humiliation is needed.

Kim Davis December 8, 2008, 7:53 PM

Makes me think about having to write “I will obey my teacher” a hundred times on the chalkboard when I was a kid.

That totally worked.

Martin December 9, 2008, 9:33 AM

So… fast forward to this kid’s first job interview…

“You look familiar, do I know you from somewhere?”

“No sir, I don’t believe so.”

“Oh, now I remember, you’re that kid that had the ‘I am a liar and a thief’ poster out on the corner of Cox and Zucker… So, let’s get this interview over with. What would you say is your worst character flaw?”

(Thanks, Mom)

Loretta December 24, 2008, 9:14 AM

Well at first I thought “OMG that’s so wrong.” But, then after a few minutes I wondered… what else has this mom tried to be so frustrated that she decided to try this method?

Obviously something wasn’t working and she felt drastic measures were in order. As parents we will do anything and everything we possibly can to protect our children and ready them for the real world that awaits them when they leave the nest.

I assume the child was not in any danger while he stood on this corner, and his mother was nearby making sure passers by did not harm him in any way.

It may be an extreme measure, but if it got the point across after many many many failed attempts, then it’s not completely horrible. There are certainly worse things that she could have done.

While this may not have been my choice or your choice, it’s what this mom felt she needed to do to help her child. At least she’s taking an interest in what her kid is doing or not doing. Many parents just pretend their kids can do no wrong while they are out there stealing and doing these things.

Hopefully she helped him realizes that these actions have consequence before he does them out there in the real world and ends up spending the night in lock up.

Tracina April 7, 2009, 7:38 PM

I agree, Loretta. If the kid had done this in the real world, he would have been arrested and been humilitated in a jail cell with people who have done much worse things than stealing. It’s not like you are beating them. You are making them take ownership for their actions. Too many children today get away with too many things because they know the worst thing that will happen is getting grounded or getting their cell phone taken away. If our children knew that they would have to show the world what they did wrong, maybe they would think twice before doing it.

Gardner September 3, 2009, 9:21 AM

Could you help me. I find it rather easy to portray a businessman. Being bland, rather cruel and incompetent comes naturally to me.
I am from Singapore and now teach English, give true I wrote the following sentence: “The tridymite principle of paleoplacer science is therefore then understood, either not or not.”

With respect ;-), Gardner.

Allison May 6, 2010, 7:53 AM

I completely disagree with most people here and I think that this is horrible. You really had to resort to public humiliation because you couldn’t get through to your son? I agree that it is difficult to get through to your child sometimes, but this is the wrong way to do it. Essentially, you are bullying your child and this will affect him for the rest of his life. I think you should take a look at your own self.. perhaps you should work on ways of more effective communication. If you want to have a bad relationship with your kid, here is a sure way of doing so.

tabletki na pryszcze April 3, 2011, 7:19 AM

It’s good too read your site again buddy, i see some interesting updates here…

electronic cigarette April 8, 2011, 3:45 PM

Thanks for writing this post. Now everything is clear for me!!

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