Kaylee was relentlessly harassing one of her classmates over the course of three weeks and verbally tearing apart the girl’s clothing, according to KTSU-TV/Fox. Kaylee’s stepmother, Ally, told the Salt Lake City TV station that Kaylee went as far to call the girl a “sleaze” and a “slob.”
When Ally received a note from the school alerting her of Kaylee’s bullying, she talked about the issue with her stepdaughter and was perplexed when the young girl seemed apathetic to the damage she’d caused. The bullied student was so hurt that she wanted to leave the school.
Ally decided to get creative to teach Kaylee a lesson. The stepmom spent about $50 at a thrift store and purchased clothes she knew Ally would be embarrassed to wear. The clothes were poorly fitting and dated. (Anyone with a daughter might know that fourth grade is often the year when a girl starts to show interest in fashion and care about what she wears to school.)
“I thought this was a perfect moment for us to really teach her, this is right, this is wrong, which path are you going to take? And then it’s her choice,” Ally told KTSU.
How did Kaylee react to her public shaming? When her stepmother presented her with the thrift store outfits, she cried.
But the fourth grader followed her stepmother’s instructions, wore the unstylish threads for two days, and put up with her friends saying meaning things about her clothes. In the end, Kaylee admitted that she learned a lesson, has decided that teasing other kids is mean, and promises to be more kind to her peers.
I have no idea if Kaylee — not her real name — will learn her lesson or not. But I, for one, think the stepmother did the right thing. Yeah, the child psychologists will tell us that shaming is damaging. Check out this Yoda-like quote:
“What happens with that is the person walks away at the end saying, ‘Now I’m really angry, that was humiliating and now I’m angry.”
Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. Suffering leads to having the car keys taken away. Or something.
One problem I’ve always had with child care “experts” is that they tend to not see the shadings in child rearing. Beating your kid every day for arbitrary things is damaging; the occasional spanking is not. Stuffing your child with junk food will make them fat; a bit of Halloween candy is fine. And while routinely humiliating and degrading your child might be damaging, occasionally embarrassing them when they’ve done something wrong never hurt anyone. In fact, I am very positive on the use of humiliation to discipline kids. My dad often kept us in line in high school by threatening to walk us to class. Another friend’s dad, if we were making too much noise, would tell us to cut it out or he’d come downstairs in his underwear and make us cut it out.
I mean, what the hell are we supposed to do? Corporal punishment is out. Humiliation is out. Harsh language is out. It would be lovely if we could discipline kids by sitting down and talking things out like we’re Jimmy Carter. But, more often than not, kids don’t fucking listen. So what are we supposed to do when being progressive and reasonable fails?
The other problem I have is treating children like they are delicate flowers who will wilt the second a parent does something wrong. Or that they are made of glass. Even if what this mother did were wrong, the daughter is going to be just fine. She was forced to wear unfashionable duds for two days? Boo-fucking-hoo. Out in Oklahoma, a bunch of kids just had their school smashed to pieces around them, spent hours buried in debris and watched classmates die. I guarantee you that most of them will recover just fine. So will the girl whose dad blew away her laptop on Youtube last year. (And honestly, it’s not like she sent the daughter to school in rags. The clothes are unfashionable but perfectly fine).
Maybe this girl will learn her lesson or maybe she won’t. But I can’t respond to this story with anything but applause. I wish more parents responds when their kids are being assholes.