This is an open letter to anyone who may have or may consider one day punishing their child for something they’ve done, then publicly shaming them, particularly for bullying other children.
I saw a video the other day which made my heart break and made me quite angry. For so many reasons. One I feel compelled to write about in the hope to help people understand and deter anyone from doing anything like this in the future to their kids.
Mistakes Are Made
Kids mess up. Simple as that, mistakes are how we learn. Most kids at one time or another have been nasty to another, for whatever reasons, that’s irrelevant at this moment. How we deal with their mistakes will ultimately shape them into the people they will become. Were you a child once, did you make mistakes, do you STILL make mistakes?? Nobody is perfect, and least of all should you expect your children to be.
If your child has bullied another child, or person, they absolutely should be shown what they have done is wrong, and should understand the implications of what they have done and what effects it could possibly cause. They need to be made aware of the consequences of their actions, this is the perfect time to teach them life lessons, this is ultimately, our job yeah?! To guide our children to understand the differences between right and wrong and allow them to have enough knowledge to make the right decision? When they make the wrong decision, to remind them of these values, to know when they’ve made a mistake, take responsibility and to apologise or make amends where possible. Am I the only one who thinks this way?
What Were You Thinking?
At what point, do you think a good punishment for your child bullying another is to actually in fact BULLY them and publicy shame them…? What the actual hell. You’ve just gone over and above what they did and I can tell you now, took a small part of your childs’ soul with it. The decision to shave your teenage or pre-teen daughters head (or any other form of public humiliation) because she bullied another child I feel was possibly one of the worst you could ever make.
You were obviously upset by the fact you’d found out what your child had done, and that’s understandable, however, I actually wonder whether or not you thought this through before you took action. You shaved her head! Not only that, but you recorded it, AND PUT IT ONLINE!!!!!
What you wouldn’t have realised when you made that decision.
You’ve taken away part of her identity.
By removing her hair, against her will, in the manner you did, you’ve robbed an essential part of who she is. Some may think “it’s just hair”, and you might have the attitude “it will grow back”, and yes, they are both true, but those points are moot right now. Regardless of the reason you made this decision, this was NEVER the answer.
Your daughter may find herself ashamed of herself and her appearance. Was that your aim? Did you think about what this would do to her self-esteem? To her self confidence? Did you consider she may now be the victim or horrific bullying? Is that what you wanted for her? Did you think this may now effect the REST of her life and feelings towards you? Towards herself? Towards anyone she should have trusted and who was meant to PROTECT her? Does she deserve this for her actions??? No. No. No. No. No. Absolutely not, in the highest power. What she deserves, is love. To understand and hear your disappointment, to hear your thoughts on exactly why what she did was wrong, and how it may have made the other child or person feel. To understand what it is the other child may be going through. Does she deserve some kind of punishment, yeah I think so, but not physical, psychological or emotional abuse.
This Isn’t An Attack
This may seem like an attack on you, I can assure you it’s not, I want you to be aware of these kinds of things, because actions are like words, once their said or done you cannot take them back. What about your punishment for what you have done? What should that be? Do you think you deserve to be punished for what you’ve done? You’ve taken it upon yourself to be the punisher, and in your actions behaved worse than the initial offence. Now making fun of someone who is sick, has cancer or for whatever the reason, bullying is NOT OK, in any way shape or form, do you see you’ve bullied your child for bullying?
In all honesty, I don’t know what has happened in your life since that happened, I’m not sure and I’m not going to troll online to find out, you may already be aware of everything I’ve said (that’s great) you may not. This is as much for you as it is anybody else who reads this, this isn’t to add to the issues already at hand.
It’s Ok To Be Upset
It’s ok to be disappointed in your child. It’s ok to feel like they’ve made a terrible mistake, it’s ok to think what they’ve done is one of the worst things possible, but I don’t feel it’s ok to abandon all parental responsibility and treat your child this way. What sort of example are you setting for your child? Are you telling them it’s ok to punish people who do the wrong thing in the worst way possible? Because this event could very well be one of the worst things to happen in her life?
Is that a far stretch? No, I don’t think so. Why do I say that? Because it happened to me, and it was and still is one of the worst things that ever happened to me.
I was 12 and a half, 6 months before high school when my mother decided to shave my head. This wasn’t for punishment, this was because I had nits, and rather than trying to treat my long red locks, she decided it was easier to shave my hair to behind my ears, leaving me with a mullet and making me look like a boy. That happened to me, and I can guarantee you it completely changed my life from that day forward. What I had to go through externally and internally were some of the most horrific times of my WHOLE life. (So don’t think for one moment that this act of shaving your childs head ‘she’ll get over’ or ‘she’ll learn her lesson’. Would she, probably yes but there were far better ways of teaching it to her.) It wasn’t just what I had to go through publicly (which I was shamed, everyday, everytime someone looked at me I felt publicly humiliated), but my feelings and relationship with my mother was never the same. She took a part of me when she used those clippers on my head, and while this was before the time of social media, and I wasn’t subject to recording or ridicule whilst the event was taking place, it was still SO painful.
My Hopes For You
I want you to know what you’ve done. Truly, from the bottom of my heart, now before later, I want you to know what you’ve done to your child, apologise, and maybe try to make amends, to work towards a better way of educating and guiding your children through making mistakes. We all make mistakes, and you’ve made a mistake, a big one. If you don’t realise that yet, I hope you do soon. I don’t feel you deserve punishment, I feel you just need to acknowledge your mistake, accept responsibility and be sorry for what you’ve done to your child. It might pay to watch the movie ‘A Girl Like Her’ together to help you both understand this situation further, it’s highly educational and eye opening. I hope you are both able to move past what has happened and continue to have a loving relationship, that is the most important thing here, but please understand what might be going on inside your child. She may need time to come around, and you’ll just have to accept that. This could well forever change her.
Social media is the way of life now, everything goes on there and there have been enough shares of ‘how many times can this be seen around the world’ from teachers educating school kids about social media and how quickly something can go viral. Anything you put on the internet now, is there for life, it can’t be undone. Keep private things just that ‘private’, there is never a need to share something which is humiliating for another human (your child or not) so please don’t be a ‘bystander’ or ‘accomplice’ to what goes on, even if it’s sharing because you disagree, it’s just as bad as you’re still sharing. Everyone needs to know, children (yes children) have killed and attempted to kill themselves from the effects of social media and public humiliation. This breaks my heart, they felt there was no other way. This is NEVER ok. There is always another way.
To The Kids And Victims Of Bullying
To any child who’s been bullied or publicly shamed or humiliated, please know you are loved, you are special, you are beautiful and are MUCH much more than what happened to you, even if others have made you feel the opposite. You have much more to give, and time will heal things, please be kind to yourself and don’t believe what people say about you. Don’t let this beat you, don’t feel like it’s too hard to go through, it’s hard, I understand that, but you’ve ALWAYS got people out there who can help you. Choose to be kind to others, always choose kindness and know that sometimes those who are the nastiest are sometimes the ones who are hurting the most, they need friendship and love. (It’s hard to see this as a young person, but it’s very true).
You can call the KIDS HELPLINE for any reasons whatsoever, sometimes we just need someone to talk to when we feel nobody understands what we’re going through, I used it many times growing up, so please, make a free call to 1800 55 1800, it’s a safe number to call. You can always talk to teachers too about what you’re feeling, or anyone else you feel safe with. Sometimes, to get through the pain, you just need someone to talk to, so please, make the call. 1800 55 1800.
From a survivor.