Shaming Your Kid Online is Cyberbullying


There’s yet another viral video of a black parent publicly shaming her child.

In this one, a 12-year-old boy named Terrence, who came home smelling like marijuana, got a “George Jefferson” haircut from his stepmom. To make matters worse, the stepmom, Aaliyah Hines, found out that he also failed the seventh grade and will have to repeat it next year. In the caption for the video that was posted to Hines’ Facebook page, she said she’s selling his Jordans. He also won’t be sleeping in his new bed, he’s going to summer school and she’s sending him to stay with her mom. Oh, and she promised to give him that George Jefferson haircut again the following week.

“I don’t ever want your hairline to grow back,” she said to him in the video. “You’re going to be looking like your grandpa.” Apparently he’ll be looking like an old man for a while.

I’m not bothered so much by the punishment part of it. Jordans are a luxury, not a necessity. And sending the kid to Grandma? Well, maybe she’ll actually do a better job staying on top on his schoolwork this summer. It’s not lost on me that it’s close to the end of the school year, and the stepmom (the biological mother and father aren’t seen in the video), despite yelling to the camera that her son is “going to get this work,” has just discovered in the final hour that the child has failed.

The punishments are what they are, but what I take issue with is the “whole world” knowing about it. It’s one thing to screw up and be punished, even embarrassed, but it’s quite another to know that there is an everlasting video telling millions of people what you’ve done, and one that they’ll be able to pull up anytime.

When I viewed Hines’ video Tuesday night on her Facebook page, there were 1.1 million views. By Thursday morning, it had 7.2 million. Hines seems very proud of herself, performing for the camera as she chastises her son, including shaving his head as he sits there pathetically. I think she expects the whole audience to cheer her on, applauding her for being like the much-hailed Baltimore momwho stormed a street protest to snatch up and smack down her son. But really, I felt awful for the child.

Did he deserve to be punished? Absolutely. Did he deserve to be publicly humiliated for an audience of millions? Absolutely not. If anyone other than a parent uploaded a video to humiliate another person this way, especially a teenager, it would be called cyberbullying. If the child willfully participated in this act as part of a group initiation ceremony, it would be called hazing. But because it’s a parent humiliating a child on camera and posting it online, we’re supposed to celebrate this as a new, effective model of parenting?

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