This morning I walked into our development’s amenities building to find, taped to each set of doors, a picture of four young people (sitting on a bench inside said building) with a caption that read, “Reminder: do not let people without key cards into the building. These kids are responsible for some minor vandalism over the past weekend.”
Of course the first thing I did was look at the picture of the four youth to see if I knew any of them. I am sure anyone coming through the doors would have done the same thing. But I thought to myself, as I continued into the building, as the parent of several kids, who have on occasion made unwise choices, would I want their picture plastered on every doorway in our amenities center? And if I did, why would I want that displayed?
Kids do things at times without thinking through what the consequences may be. This is not to make excuses for their behavior, I absolutely feel the kids involved should have had to clean up the mess they created, or at the very least, apologize to the maintenance person who had to waste their time and energy doing so. Whether or not they should have to deal with additional lectures or repercussions at home is up to the individual’s parents. I would think knowing they were caught on camera produced a level of embarrassment which might in the future help them think twice should a similar opportunity for misbehavior arise. If not, there is probably more going on in the child’s story than a cavalier attitude about vandalism.
Publicly shaming kids, whether it’s yelling at them in front of others while in a grocery store, calling them out on social media, or plastering their picture at multiple entrances to the amenities building, does nothing to foster a healthy respect between adults and young people. Remembering we [adults] are the role models for kids in teaching accountability, rather than punishing, will do more to build responsible action and connection from them in the future.
I overheard one neighbor exclaim to another as I left the building a few minutes later, “The reason we’ve got these kinds of problems with kids today is because we don’t discipline them the way we did years ago while I was raising my kids.” I beg to differ on this statement (though I did not say it out loud). Much of the reason we see disrespect for property and/or people from kids nowadays is not because we have moved on from regularly physically punishing them, rather it’s because we (a) often don’t make the time to connect with our kids in a way that helps them understand we’re all part of, and working towards, something greater than ourselves, (b) we give them too many privileges too soon, so our kids don’t place much value on material goods, and (c) we fear our kid will get mad at us if we don’t bail them out of a situation they have gotten themselves into.
What do you think about publicly shaming kids for their misdeeds? While it may, in the short term, provide the response we seek…what happens with the long-term effects when instead of building connection we lose their respect and trust?
Kimberly Muench is a Flower Mound mother of five and author of “My Mothers Footprints: A story of Faith, Calm, Courage, Patience and Grace.” To see more of her work or to contact her, visit www.realifemom.com.