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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Parents Deals Hard With Their Children, Before The System Has Too!

Punish children by humiliating them in public?

Maybe it's because the weather has been unseasonably calm this year, but there has been a rash of examples of parents forcing their children to stand out in the open with signs declaring the ways in which the youngsters have misbehaved.

Most recently, in Illinois yesterday, Montrail White watched from his parked car while his 8-year-old daughter, Melissa, stood outside the High Mount School wearing a home-made sandwich board sign which read "I like to steal from others and lie about it!!"

It's not a brand new approach (every year or so a desperate parent makes the news like this ) but there a rash of these incidents over the past few weeks -- and a chorus of supportive comments from other parents on the news sites that cover them -- hints at a form of discipline that is gaining traction. In a moment when so much else in life is lived out loud and in public, it would follow, in a backwards and disjointed kind of way, that the method of discipline as old as The Scarlett Letter would seem fitting in a modern age.

Which may be why in Miami earlier this month, Tarvon Young, a fifth grade student at the Richard Allen Leadership Academy stood outside that school for 90 minutes every day holding a sign that said "I was sent to school to get an education. Not to be a bully... I was not raised this way!"

Tarvon's mother might well have gotten the idea from another Miami family, specifically that of 7th grader Michael Bell, Jr. who spent much of his March spring break walking the local streets with a sign that said "Hey, I want to be a class clown is that wrong?" The flip side explained that the boy was failing civics, language arts and math, and asked passersby to honk three times if they think failing is bad.

That same month, 12-year-old Jose Gonzalez was ordered to stand on a Denver street corner by his father, Joseph, as punishment for taking $100 from a cousin's wallet. "I am a thief. I took money from a family member," his sign read.

And a few weeks earlier, 13-year-old Natia Wade held a similar sign in Memphis, saying "I steal from my family", after she swiped her mother's debit card to reactivate the cell phone that her mother had taken away.

Most of the parents say they say they were at the ends of their ropes. "He has been screwing up in school, behavior and academics and right now I am trying to send a message to him," Michael Bell Sr. told the local TV news. "Right now, this is the only thing I have left to try and reach him,"

Some, though, were trying to stop a problem before it became repetitive. "He's a good kid," Joseph Gonzalez told "This is the first time he's done something like this, I hope it will be the last."


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