Boy made to wear 'I'm a thief' sign

Jodi - posted on 08/22/2011 ( 40 moms have responded )

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A MOTHER made her child sit in public with a sign pinned to his shirt saying: "Do not trust me. I will steal from you as I am a thief."
The boy, thought to be about 10, was also wearing Shrek ears and writing lines in what appeared to a form of public punishment, according to dozens of witnesses who contacted the Townsville Bulletin.

The boy spent almost an hour on Sunday near a popular park in Townsville while his family ate lunch nearby.

Diane Mayers was so "horrified" when she saw the boy she contacted Child Safety Services to intervene.

"The boy just kept his head down and was staring at the ground," Ms Mayers said.

"A lot of people walked past and were laughing at him."

A local child psychologist, Nicole Pierotti, said humiliation was a poor way to punish a child.

Townsville Child Psychologist Nicole Pierotti, who is also a parent, said she was "shocked" that this form of punishment could be used.

Ms Pierotti agreed humiliation was not the best way to punish the child.

"This gives the child the message that they should be sneakier," she said.

"He's learning 'don't get caught'.

"It also makes you wonder what else goes on in the family.

"Parents are supposed to be the people a child can trust.

"It would be far more appropriate, if he had stolen something from a shop, to make him go back to the shop and say what he had done.

"They could even prep the shopkeeper on what was happening too... that would be much better than humiliating him in public."

The Child Safety Services website said the Regional Intake Service was the contact point for anyone with concerns for a child that may be at risk of experiencing harm in the near future.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/more-ne...


Do you think this is going too far? Should we place our children in a situation where they feel humiliated? Keep in mind we DON'T know what he did that his parents resorted to this, but is it really ever okay to humiliate our children in public in this way?

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Kellie - posted on 08/24/2011

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There's a deeper Psychological reason behind this child's behaviour. Why did he all of a sudden start stealing at 7? What triggered the behaviour? I'd bet my ass something happened to this kid and stealing became his outlet.

Why is it so hard for people to look past the behaviour and find out the cause of it? If you find the cause you can fix the issue at it's root and be done with it for good.

Humiliation won't stop his behaviour, it will only compound it. She has taken a HUGE risk turning him TOWARD the very path she's trying to keep him from.

Sherri you say:

"In all actually my mother is my rock and my hero now for caring enough for me to give me hard discipline when deemed necessary and never giving up on me."

Using natural/logical consequences and Positive Parenting techniques doesn't mean there is no discipline or that a parent using these things has given up on their child. At all.

Dana - posted on 08/24/2011

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Yes, he's sure to hold a grudge and a small amount of hatred in his heart towards his mom for that one. I'm sure he won't forget that.

Jodi - posted on 08/22/2011

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Yes, we are all going to be embarrassed at some point, and yes we all do sometimes embarrass our children, but to INTENTIONALLY humiliate a child as punishment is a form of emotional abuse. What is it teaching them? is it really resolving the issue.



I do question what has happened to lead up to this action by the parents, but I can think of a MILLION different ways to have handled the situation that would not only address the problem but not humiliate and compromise the child's self esteem in the process.



And I agree with Amie, if an older child at school forced your kid to do something like this you'd all be crying out that it was bullying, but because you are a parent it isn't? Put some value on your child's self esteem!!!

Denikka - posted on 08/22/2011

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There are multiple instances of things like this occurring.

I can remember another situation where it was grades and not a theft that prompted the sign. It was a teen girl, and she was made to wear a sandwich board sign that basically said *I didn't want to study, so here I am*. She was placed on the corner of a busy street close to her school.

So this is far from a unique experience. That girl actually thanked her mom for doing it. It was the HUGE kick in the pants she needed. (And she didn't thank her years and years later, I believe it was only a year or two after the event. The girl was then 17 or 18)

I don't know how I feel about this. I think that in some situations, with some kids, it could work wonders. I think that sometimes, such drastic measures are called for. I can't make a call on this specific case because of the lack of information. But I don't think that this is such a HUGE deal as some people may make it out to be. I don't see it as much worse than being called out in the middle of class for not doing your homework, or having a note read to the class when you get caught.



Let's face it. We're ALL going to be embarrassed at one time or another in our lives. It's not going to kill you (even though sometimes you'd like to just curl up and die). If sticking my kid in a busy area with a sign proclaiming that he's done wrong is going to stop him from going down a dark path, then you'd better believe he'd be out there. Obviously this is not a first offense type of punishment, but if you've tried everything else you can think of...*shrug*...there are worse things that a kid could go through.

I'd rather see my kid on the side of a road with a sign than in prison, hands down.

Dana - posted on 08/24/2011

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Exactly, Kellie, Obviously her parenting techniques haven't been so good to begin with if this child has such an issue with theft at such a young age.

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Stifler's - posted on 08/24/2011

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It's usually the youngest child judging from the people I know. My mother in law steals random stuff like plastic bags from the shop, *forgets to pay* for things that are hiding in the trolley. My husband's cousin steals stuff from everyone then denies it. My sister who is the youngest did. My cousin who is the youngest in his family did. I'm starting to see a pattern.

Tara - posted on 08/24/2011

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I don't think this is effective and in Canada could actually be illegal if that child had in fact been charge under the youth justice act.
This act is in place to protect the identity of young offenders so that their future reputation as growing adolescents in their communities as well as adulthood is protected from slander and past digressions.

If this is their last resort perhaps they haven't looked far enough. The long term damage in labeling someone a thief in their own community is likely going to outweigh any short term benefit.

If he does indeed stop stealing will they place him on a pedestal with a halo and a sign proclaiming his righteousness? No and he will go on to have a reputation as a thief, put there by his own parents.

If he doesn't stop and keeps this public humiliation did not work and may have contributed to the mentality that being labeled a thief creates, you are what people say you are.

I stand by the grounds that if he has indeed been charged in a court of law this kind of public outing should be illegal as it is here in Canada.

He needs help, specialized help if he is a chronic thief, it stems from some other place. But this is never going to help him feel better about himself.

Gina - posted on 08/24/2011

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I agree with Jodi, more should be done to find out why he's stealing, if he won't talk to a counsellor , there has to be someone who he can talk to.
I really hope the mum doesn't give up on him.

Gina - posted on 08/24/2011

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I can see why the mum did this,She tried everything to make him stop stealing,nothing else worked. Maybe been humiliation in public will make him stop.
Having said that, it's not something I could ever do,sure I embarrass my daughter in public, apparently I'm not 'cool', but to me this is risking losing your child's love and respect.

Kellie - posted on 08/24/2011

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I don't think humiliation would work for anyone. Period.

And I don't think they've tried hard enough.

You also implied that there is no discipline or that a parent using these things has given up on their child which is why I chose to rebut that sentence.

Sherri - posted on 08/24/2011

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I am aware Kellie. I never said parents don't discipline I am just don't think supposed natural consequences is always the answer.

Also it sounds like they have looked into reasons for his behavior and even tried to counseling to try and help him, and that didn't help either.

Also how do you know humiliation won't work?? It may be just the thing that does work. See just because it wouldn't work for you or your family is not to say it won't work for this family and this situation. I am completely playing devils advocate because that is the thing although it could backfire, it easily could be the perfect remedy as well.

Kellie - posted on 08/24/2011

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Yep Dana, I would add too that stealing (well I sure wouldn't imagine it to be anyway) isn't a usual behaviour of a 7 year old, and I also would't imagine a 7 year old to just up and start stealing for shits and giggles and then continue the behaviour for the next 3 years. He got/is getting something from stealing that he wasn't getting elsewhere, i.e. from home.

Dana - posted on 08/24/2011

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Yes, Sherri, I am entitled to my opinion as it is a debate board. :)



I'm sure I'll raise my kid the way I want and be content as you probably will too.

Sherri - posted on 08/24/2011

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Well you are entitled to your opinion I see nothing deluded about it in the least because he was embarrassed by his parents, due to his own actions. GAH he will be just fine.

Heck if you saw what I did to my kids to embarrass them in public just for fun.

Dana - posted on 08/24/2011

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No he might grow up and be deluded enough to think that's proper discipline or he might not. It's not worth the risk to me.

Sherri - posted on 08/24/2011

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Maybe and maybe not Dana you have no possible way of knowing what he will feel. He may turn around and thank them down the road for caring so much to do whatever it took to get him on the right track.

I thank my parents everyday for the discipline I was given as a child and it certainly wasn't this new fangled logical consequence stuff. In all actually my mother is my rock and my hero now for caring enough for me to give me hard discipline when deemed necessary and never giving up on me.

Sherri - posted on 08/24/2011

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I think it is perfect and the humiliation will give the kid a lot to think about next time I think. It is a great consequence and one I bet he will NEVER forget.

Jodi - posted on 08/23/2011

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I don't believe it would work either, but I can understand why the mother was sufficiently at her wits end to give it a go.

Amie - posted on 08/23/2011

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I still don't agree with this, even with the added information.

I can't agree with humiliation as a "teaching tool". It's not a teaching tool. What possible circumstance could there ever be that this would be a natural/logical consequence? It's not. Humiliation is about making someone feel bad about themselves, it's about flexing your power over them. It's wrong.

Our oldest daughter has had to deal with bullies. She has come home and cried, been angry, confused, etc. She walked the gamut of emotions because of little snots. One day she said to me "I thought about turning it around on them, I thought about doing what they were doing. I couldn't though, it's wrong."

Children know it's wrong to be a bully, they are told so all the time at school, in public and (hopefully) at home. The tables turn though as soon as someone tries to deem it as a parenting technique. It's still wrong, no matter how it's labelled.

Jodi - posted on 08/23/2011

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Here you go ladies, more info:

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/nationa...



It looks like she has tried everything, including counselling. So I can understand why she resorted to this. I still think that if he is only 10 and shoplifting to this extent that this is a much deeper issue, but I guess you can lead a child to a counsellor, but you can't make him co-operate.

Becky - posted on 08/23/2011

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These parents took it too far. I can sort of understand the message they were trying to convey - if you steal, you lose trust and everyone will be wary of you - bu I think they went about it the wrong way. I agree that a better response would have been to make the child return the item he stole. And if it was an ongoing problem and they felt they needed to take it further - the child is not allowed to go anywhere without direct adult supervision. If it's friends he's stealing from - he can't go to his friend's houses. If it's at school, he has to be supervised at all times. If it's at the store, he has to stand right beside mom or dad, or even hold their hand, the entire time he's in the store. The third would still be embarassing, but I think it gets the message across in a more effective manner. "If you are going to take things that don't belong to you, then we cannot trust you and we need to supervise you more closely to help you remember that that is not okay."

Krista - posted on 08/23/2011

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I do wish they'd given more information in the article. Like Cathy said, if he was repeatedly stealing money from younger kids and terrorizing them, that's one thing.

If he lifted a candy bar from a shop, well...that's a fairly common childhood mistake, and it's unfair to mortify and humiliate him so badly for something like that. A lot of us have made mistakes throughout our lives, but we usually haven't had to announce those mistakes to a jeering public.

And if this WAS his first offense, then I think this punishment will backfire. The kid will be known to his peers and community as a thief. He'll be teased at school about it. It'll follow him around like a tin can tied to a car bumper. And it's very possible that he'll get to the point where he'll say, "Fine...they all think I'm a thief? I might as well BE a thief!".

Dana - posted on 08/23/2011

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You know, I just read this this morning on my FB wall. It wouldn't hurt for people to realize the "gift" they have.

"I really am your gift. I am not just a little person who needs to be "raised" and taught, and taken to activities....I came to the people in my life to bring a message: slow down. Feel. Be. Over and over again. When you do, you will notice immediately, that I am not an obstacle to your work, or inconvenience to your daily life. Instead, you will come to appreciate my honesty, humor, presence and love."-- Bruce Scott

Dana - posted on 08/23/2011

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I disagree. I completely respect my 3 yr old son and I will always respect him. I'm sure I'll be disappointed in him and frustrated at times but, he will always have my respect.

Dana - posted on 08/23/2011

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I stole once when I was a kid. My mom took me to the store and I had to tell the manager what I did. That was enough of a lesson and enough humiliation to not do it again.

We don't know how much of an issue stealing is with this child but, it would certainly be extreme if it were his first offense. Lessons can be taught with love, understanding and some toughness. Not complete disrespect for the child's feelings.

Amanda - posted on 08/23/2011

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Good for these parents!! A childs feelings go out the window when a child starts to BREAKS THE LAW. If my children ever start stealing, you bet I will do this, and if this doesnt work I will personally call the police on my own children. I have zero tolerance for breaking laws for any age, and my children are reminded every time one of their friends breaks a law, that unlike their parents, I will be dealing with any law breaking with the police.

Children are protected way to much from their own actions now a days its insane. I know neighbourhood kids who shop lift, beat the shit out of their peers, and nothing happens other then their parents convicing the police not to arrest their children. You bet I will be dragging my kids out by the ear begging the police to arrest my child if they break the law, but now I will first put them on our street corner with a sign. :0)

[deleted account]

Why not? If you have tried every last option available to you?
I would do it if my son wouldn't stop stealing, or doing something I didn't approve of.

Sam - posted on 08/23/2011

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Maybe that is exactly what that kid needed to change the path he was on. I just saw an article where an 8 year old boy got caught stealing bread from the market and his punishment was to get his right arm run over and crushed by a car, so I would say having to wear a sign is a lot better than what this other boy received as a punishment. If my kids had stolen more than once then hell ya they can where the sign don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

Stifler's - posted on 08/22/2011

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The real problem is probably his kleptomania and they need to address that instead of publicly humiliating him. My sister is a fucking thief and always has been and when I saw this I kind of laughed imagining my parents doing it to her. But she would have kept stealing anyway no matter how many times they did it, rendering it pointless IMO. She would have kept stealing because she believes she's entitled to whatever she wants, she steals for the fun of it, the fun of disadvantaging others, to get what she feels she deserves. I feel sad for her. My other sister has disowned her because of her behaviour.

Johnny - posted on 08/22/2011

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Absolutely terrible. I do agree that we will all inadvertently humiliate our kids from time to time. And I will probably occasionally try to mildly embarrass my daughter when she is a teen solely for my own amusement, much like my parents did to me. But this is disgusting IMO.

This boy is not learning how to be a moral and ethical person. He's learning that if he gets caught doing the wrong thing, people will be cruel. This mother is a bully and an idiot. What a bitch!

Amie - posted on 08/22/2011

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No, humiliation does not teach.

Marina raises a good point, at some point we will "humiliate" our children. The difference (the neon sign glaring difference) is we are not doing it with malice or ill intent. We do not do so to cause shame. These parents did.

Humiliation is not a tool anyone should use to try and get someone to learn. An effective lesson is to march them back, make them fess up and pay their due. Standing back while people mock and poke fun at my child because I'm too lazy to teach them a lesson - not for me. I will be their parent and teach them their lessons, I will not allow others to degrade them so I can sit back and go - ha! That'll teach 'em.

How is this any different than a bully picking on that child?

Sherri - posted on 08/22/2011

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I think it is great. Heck I don't care how old he is.

Great now people have problems with just making the kid wear a sign, you would have a problem if he got a spanking too. How can this even relatively be considered abuse because his ego was hurt. Gah, whatever.

Sherri - posted on 08/22/2011

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These parents deserve an award bahaha I LOVE it. Guaranteed that boy will think twice before he does something the next time.

Although I embarrass my teenagers just for fun in public. Although in this instance I think it is ingenious.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 08/22/2011

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I think we all unintentionally at one point or another, humiliate our children in public. We don't do it out of spite, or vengeance, or even to teach a lesson. But at some point it happens. I think this lady took it to far.

Dana - posted on 08/22/2011

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It's absolutely not okay to humiliate a child like that. My heart breaks for this boy. :(

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