Texas Kid Who Cussed At Teacher Gets Public Punishment

1:32 PM, Jan 17, 2014   |    comments
Dylan, 12, stands on a suburban Houston street corner with a sign he had to show for three hours Jan. 16, 2014: "I was suspended from school for cussing out my teacher."(Photo: KHOU-TV, Houston)via USA TODAY
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Rucks Russell, KHOU-TV, USA TODAY

SPRING, Texas - On the corner of a busy commercial street in Houston's northern suburbs, a public form of discipline caught the eyes of motorists driving by Thursday evening.

Standing on the corner was a 12-year-old boy named Dylan who held aloft a sign that read, "I was suspended from school for cussing out my teacher."

A close family friend offered an explanation for the display.

"He cursed at a couple of his teachers on two separate occasions and was suspended from school today," Rachel Macha said. "He wasn't raised to speak that way."

So Macha wrote the words on the sign, and with the blessing of Dylan's mom, put the sign on the boy and made him stand at the intersection for about three hours during the evening rush.

Dylan's mom didn't want to give their last name nor let him talk to a reporter, saying that the embarrassment of standing on the busy street corner, holding the sign and not covering his face had taught him a lesson.

Previously, more conventional means of discipline had failed, Macha said.

"You try the different tactics, like grounding and taking things away," she said. "This was something different."

Parents at their wits' end and others who are responsible for children have tried public humiliation before. Among them:

• In December in Akron, Ohio, a 13-year-old girl's aunt and guardian ordered her to stand on a street in the cold after she fought at school, leading to a three-day suspension. Her sign said, "They talked about Jesus Christ. So what do I care what a person have (sic) to say about me. Now I'm standing outside holding this sign instead of being in school getting my education when I could have walked away! Because it's Jesus who died for me!"

• In September, parents in Bakersfield, Calif., forced their seventh-grade daughter to hold a sign on a street corner there that said, "I was disrespecting my parents by twerking at my school dance."

• In August in Batavia, N.Y., a mom made her 8-year-old son stand outside their house wearing a sign that said, "I steal from my parents. A neighbor called the cops but found the punishment wasn't illegal.

• In March, a woman in Fort Morgan, Colo., had her fiance's 8-year-old daughter wear a T-shirt to school that said, "I steal. Steal means taking property belonging to someone else without permission. I steal. Please watch me." She planned to make a "bully" shirt for her 9-year-old son until she got a call from second-grade girl's principal, saying she could not make the child wear the shirt to school.

• In November 2012, parents in Palm Coast, Fla., had their 15-year-old daughter, Jasmine, stand on the corner of a busy street with a sign that said, "Jasmine. I sneak boys in at 3 a.m. and disrespect my parents and grandparents."

Thursday's public shaming clearly had an effect on people passing by.

"I think it's a good idea," Barbara Perales said. "I think it could be good for children to see."

But her son, who also happened to be 12, had seen enough.

"I think it's crazy," he said.

So do some child psychotherapists, likening it to the public stocks of colonial America.

"It's not necessarily the most effective type of discipline," child psychologist Pamela Schuetze told WGRZ-TV, Buffalo, N.Y. "The research is pretty clear that parenting that's based on power works in the short term, but may have some long term consequences,"

A consequence where the child learns how his actions hurt others is the most effective, she said.

"That kind of shame is not something that he is going to forget," Schuetze said about another instance of public humiliation.

Macha hoped the exercise would help Dylan grow.

"If you can stand up and talk like a man, you need to take your punishment like a man," 



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