When Does Parenting Stray Into Bullying?

Posted: January 10, 2014 in Crime News, Research, Social Media
Tags: , , , ,

Cyber-bullies come in all shapes and sizes, including, as it turns out, parents. This past week, someone posted the below photo (which was anonymized for this post) to a social media site that shows a child holding a handwritten sign about having to sell her iPod and donate the proceeds to a bullying organization.

There wasn’t much further explanation, other than the caption: “Mom catches daughter cyber-bullying,” but the obvious conclusion is that this was punishment, meted out by a parent, for the child’s bullying of someone else.

Bullying blur

Predictably, comments by those who viewed the picture ran the gamut, from constructive feedback to out and out trolling. Here are some examples:

How to teach your kid to not be a cyber bully: post a judgmental photo of her on the internet so people can see how bad she is.

It’s not like she regrets it, the only reason this is happening is because she got caught.

Children are little people; monstrous but small. They must be taught empathy to be socialized. Sometimes that’s through poetic justice.

Somehow I’m not convinced that she’s really kind or caring person.

Humiliating your child to teach her not to humiliate other children? Gee, I wonder where she gets it!

I hesitate to criticize a parent for doing what she thinks is best when it comes to disciplining her own child but, in my opinion, publicly shaming someone in this way goes beyond parenting and strays into its own unique form of cyber-bullying.

And, the consequences of bullying run deep. Psychological, physical, emotional, academic, and other consequences can result. Research even shows that both bullies and bullied children are more likely to engage in violence later in life.

So, there’s every reason to stop children from bullying one another. But, bullying your child to teach them not to bully is setting that child up for failure and even more problems down the line.

Have a safe weekend.

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  1. I think the reason the mom is doing this is because she’s seen others doing it and thinks it’s cute. However, I give her credit for at least trying to do SOMETHING. Too many parents just look the other way these days….


    • Bob Cameron says:

      I think you might be right about the reasons a mother would do this, but I’m still worried about the child. Is she being set up for being bullied by others about what her mom posted, and is that a good thing?


  2. Well put. I have been thinking about this a lot this week, but couldn’t find the words. I already am careful about what I put out about my 4yo son; he can’t understand now, but I want him to know that, if I did not do well by him, it was not from malicious or hurtful intent but from getting it wrong myself. I want to build him–and others–up, since that has had the most powerful impact on me.


    • Bob Cameron says:

      Good point. I think there’s going to be an entire generation of children whose lives were made public from birth without their permission, and they’re going to be uncomforable, embarassed, and maybe even mortified about that by the time they become young adults.

      I think you’re on the right track by limiting the information you share about your son. Small networks, like 23snaps, can also be a great way to share photos and other content with limited family-only groups.


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