The Viral Popularity of Child Abuse

A grandmother pulls a knife on her grandson in the car. A mom rages at her pre-teen son over his grades and forces him to come get hit even as he prays to God for safety. A mom writes a lengthy post on Facebook of her dumping her kids’ ice cream in the garbage because they forgot to say “thank you.” People cheer on a cop who body slams a young teen girl who won’t get out of her desk. A mom films two school teachers preparing to paddle her child as he begs her for help.

These are just a few examples from the recent rash of viral child abuse videos that seem to be racking up a collective applause on the internet. The videos themselves are tragic enough. The comments, as usual, are even more tragic.

You may feel like some of these examples aren’t child abuse. Most wouldn’t consider throwing your child’s ice cream in the garbage as child abuse. And while that may not be child abuse as its typically defined, publicly shaming your children on social media in exchange for hearts from friends *is* abusive behavior.

It also makes you a hypocrite.

None of these parents want to be publicly shamed, but they’re all too willing to do it to their children. None of these parents want to be assaulted, but they won’t hesitate to hit their kids and film it. None of these parents want to be body slammed by a cop, but they cheer it on when it’s a young teenage girl. None of these parents want their ice cream thrown in the garbage, but it’s a “great lesson for Facebook” when it involves kids.

What drives this? Why is this behavior on the part of parents so encouraged and celebrated that it continually goes viral for all the wrong reasons? Here’s the conclusion I’ve come to…

Many adults are caught in a generation vs generation war. They believe in the “kids-these-days” myth and the “leniency” myth. They want to prove to the world that they’re on Team Adult.

Today’s adults are in an us-vs-them leadership model. Rather than seeing a child as an innocent human being that deserves to be nurtured, children are mostly seen as wild animals that need constant behavior correction to be tamed and domesticated, else they become dangerous.

This is why mainstream parents use operant conditioning tactics, treating their children more like dogs and mice than human beings. This is why children’s lives operate more like contrived mazes than a land of exploration and opportunity.

There’s a lack of trust in children to do pretty much anything on their own. A toxic pessimism that bleeds into moral judgement. The mainstream believes that children will only be good if they’re trained to be good. And ironically, that “training” requires doing to them things we consider to be “bad” in any other context.

The story goes that the current ills of society are due to a majority of parents not training their kids well enough. “Parents are too lenient,” they say. “Kids are allowed to do whatever they want,” they say.

It’s this mentality that drives the social sharing of “this-is-my-parenting-isn’t-it-awesome” videos. Parents are thirsty for approval from their peers and nothing is hotter right now than showing Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest how much you’re dedicated to Team Adult by all the creative ways you make Team Child suffer.

“Everyone look! My kids were arguing so I forcibly isolated them together in a tee shirt with condescending phrases written on it.”

“Fuck yeah! You go girl! That’ll teach those brats. Can you make this public so I can share your parenting badassery? Maybe if we share this enough more parents will teach their kids some manners.”

Nothing like trading your child’s trust and self-esteem for likes on Facebook from people you haven’t even met, right? #ParentingToday

Of course, the “kids-these-days” and “leniency” stories couldn’t be any further from the truth. The vast majority of parents admit to hitting their children on a fairly consistent basis. Homes and schools, the two places kids spend the vast majority of their time, have never had more rules and regulations at any point in history than they do now. The implementation of authoritarianism is at an all time high.

Maybe this idea that “kids are out of control” is simply not true. And maybe in the few cases where it is true, it’s driven by the fact that they’re locked inside of the psychological prison of authoritarianism. Or the fact that they’re locked in the actual prisons of public and private school systems.

We hit them (to teach them not to hit), we rage at them (to teach them to communicate in a nicer way), we coerce them with punishments and rewards (can you teach authenticity through inauthenticity?), we discard their intrinsic desires while force-feeding them our brand of “education” and “life experience,” we teach them that their emotions are undesirable (while we rage and shame and play the victim card and bitch about everything under the sun), we love them conditionally (while claiming it’s for their own good)…

…And most of all, we see nothing wrong with *us.* It’s always the child that’s broken and needs fixing. No matter how obviously hypocritical we are as parents, the child deserved it.

But children aren’t broken. We are. Because we weren’t broken when we were kids and most of us got “fixed” by our parents. But the “fixing” we’ve come to know and use ourselves is actually the act of breaking. Literally. Breaking the body. Breaking the mind. Breaking the spirit. Breaking-in. Taming. Domesticating. Training. These terms make up the undeniable foundation of mainstream parenting.

If all of these things happened to you…you are not fine. The very fact that you advocate for these things happening to young, defenseless children is evidence that you are not fine. This idea that, “I was spanked and turned out fine” is a rationalized fairy tale told by people who are too afraid to say, “I deserved better. A lot better.”

These tactics must stop. The social shaming must stop. The psychological abuse must stop. The physical abuse must stop. It’s not authentic. It’s all a thoughtless result of exposure to CULTure. When you behave in this way you are not the solution, you are the problem.

The world will continue to be a broken place if we continue to break our kids. And it’s not unconditional love that’s breaking them. It’s not negotiation that’s breaking them. It’s not non-violence that’s breaking them. It’s not cooperation, or patience, or being a calm, assertive leader that’s breaking them.

These things don’t break, they build.

Don’t be afraid to say you deserved better. And don’t be afraid to extend that recognition to your own children.

Ditch the Team Adult jersey. Come join Team Humanity and follow your own advice for once: Treat people—including your children—the way you want to be treated as a human being. Not the way your bullshit rationalization of your childhood tells you you should have been treated, but the way you want to be treated right this minute as a living, breathing, compassion-deserving individual. Make the shift. Acquire better tools. You’ve got this.

  • Kristin

    Thank you for saying, very well, what I have been thinking. Adults treat children terribly and then wonder why children misbehave. I cannot understand filming your punishment for your child. what a way to drive a wedge between you and your child.

      • Charley

        This morning I read a post of mama asking for advice. Her son had woken up and decided to give himself a haircut and it was all jacked up. In the end, she took him to the barber and then to school.

        I was really discouraged to see several commenters advocating that she send her kid to school with the jacked up hair “to teach him a lesson” he was also called an “idiot” and that he needed to be punished.

        Perfect timing for me to read this! It’s nice to see I am not alone. We should be helping build our children’s self esteem instead of tearing it down.

        • Auri

          I remember as a kid, I really thought it was cool how my hairdresser did bangs and since it had been a while since I had my hair cut, I tried to cut them myself. Of course I messed up! I was a kid! So my mom took me to the salon and got it fixed and we laughed about it and my hairdresser told me that if I wanted to know how to cut hair to ask her next time and taught me some cool stuff about how hair cutting works.

          I never cut my own hair after that because it’s a lot harder to do than you’d think. But I also learned a lot of cool stuff.

          I really don’t understand parenting these days. Hearing that people wanted to “teach that kid a lesson” for a mistake is terrifying and disgusting.

      • Fanchon

        How is the student and cop video abusive parenting? The student was not body slammed to the ground. Her actions sent her to the floor. Cops don’t go to work thinking man I gonna just gonna body slam people all day. The student should have listened to the teacher. The student could have left the classroom to go to the office or even the guidance office. She chose not to.

        • Daphne

          So if you disobey me I have the right to slam you to the floor? If I think you are disrespecting me and embarrassing my authority I have the right to physically abuse you? Ok, well, I’ll be right over.

        • Kevin Geary

          The student was not body slammed to the ground.

          That’s factually incorrect.

          Her actions sent her to the floor.

          This is factually incorrect.

          The student could have left the classroom to go to the office or even the guidance office. She chose not to.

          The only reason the student was in that desk in that school in that classroom is because the state points guns at parents and forces them to send their children there unless they have the means to put them somewhere else.

          To suggest that a teen girl should be violently assaulted for “not listening” is fucking ludicrous.

          • skelly c.

            some people who might be considered “team kids” or “team people” are homeschoolers/unschoolers. it is truly a shame when any lot gets lumped together, no?

          • Abi

            Ok. So what should the cop have done? By the way, she was kicking him. At what point do we say she has to be forcibly removed? What would you have done to get her out of the classroom?

        • Mimc

          Even if all that was true. And I didn’t wanted the video so I don’t know. It is sickening to me that people are jumping on board and glorifying this violence. Even in the case were violence is necessary it should never be celebrated. To should be viewed as a shameful failure of the system. What put this girl into a position were she felt like it would be better to defy the cop? Was she scared? Was she angry about resent event involving the police? Does she have an diagnosed disability that makes it impossible to meet the school behavior expectations? If any of these is true then what happened will not help the girl one bit and so it should never be celebrated.

        • Kerrie

          Amen, Fanchon! Kids DONT listen anymore Cause they can call the police and LIE about child abuse. If they would MIND authority, then “EXCESSIVE” force wouldn’t have to be used. ALSO, SHAMING NEEDS to be brought back otherwise this behavior WILL continue, contrary to what people disagree with.

    • Jared

      Overall a nice commentary, but operant behavior strategies do have their place. They shouldn’t be the main way of interacting with a child. However, they can help structure things for both the parent and the children. It can stabilize things while family dynamics shift. And considering things like Conduct Disorder, it’s better to have these strategies available than not at all. When I do family therapy, everything, behavior management plans included, is based on empathic attunement to needs like support, love, safety, autonomy, etc.

    • Fred

      Ummm, kids aren’t innocent. Come on. I remember some of the horrible things I said to my poor mother as a kid, and I remember the other kids were like a multi-shark attack. Blood in the water. Wounded rabbit syndrome.

      So, throwing the ice cream away (and needing to be reassured that she wasn’t wrong to do so) is HARDLY abuse. When I was a kid, they stopped the car and waited for another car to drive past before they spanked me. That’s abusive.

      Flippin ICE CREAM? how about kneeling on the kitchen floor on corn kernels! Or the wooden spoon? 2500 lines? Get a grip. You’re hysterical.

      • Lacey

        My mom and I are estranged. One of her arguments defending her treatment of me is that I apparently said mean things to her as a child. My answer? I was a child and she was an adult. I have had some children say some pretty gnarly things to me and, even though some times it’s all I can do, I always try to correct them calmly instead of being gnarly back. Kids don’t always know the full impact of the things they say, especially (but not only) if they are raised in a household where they regularly have hurtful things said to or about them. I don’t hold children to the same behavioral standards I do adults and a grown person cannot justify their behavior to me by calling out the behavior of a pre-teen.

        Emotional abuse is a thing. I don’t think the ice cream being thrown away is the worst part of that story but those children clearly have a mother who gets something out of airing her children’s dirty laundry. Why couldn’t that lesson have been private? I had a teaching moment with my young daughter today and I didn’t post it to Facebook.

      • raskolnikova

        its not abusive to throw a kid’s treats away… its a good idea sometimes, to be honest. what’s abusive is filming/photographing their reaction and bragging about it to everyone else and having it be circulated to thousands or millions of people who revel in your kid’s immature despair for years and years afterwards. the kid doesn’t get to escape that punishment even years after they’ve learned their lesson. years later they might find strangers still circulating that image/clip, and you must know that a pretty loud minority of those people don’t have any filter or common sense — the grown-up kid might someday find dozens of people commenting about how their child self should have been beaten or worse for whatever trivial thing they did.

        you spoke of the nasty things you said as a kid — but what do those things mean when they come from the mouth of someone whose brain isn’t even fully developed? the only people who go around beating adults for saying stupid and cruel things are people we consider thuggish and immature, so i don’t know why we find it acceptable to beat children, who are far less aware of the true weight of their statements than an adult who goes about insulting people.

    • Anastacia T

      First, I agree with your article. This is the only statement I would reconsider, “a child as an innocent human being that deserves to be nurtured”. It is never about deserve, a child as an innocent human being that has the divine birth rite to be nurtured. Based on a lot of the feed back given in the comment section below, I am surprised and I would also say most adults are walking around with a lot of unhealed childhood wounds and still not clear what healthy, balanced parenting is. I do not claim to have it all figured out. I have made mistakes in all my years of parenting to be sure. I can say I knew punishment was not my way. I have done a lot of deep inner work over many years to heal my own childhood wounds and along the way, with the best intentions, I still got some things wrong that I am having to clean up now. It comes down to Now or Later and Later is going to be painful. So thank you for doing such an amazing service for humanity. Your love and compassion is really needed and greatly appreciated.

  • B McNichol

    I agree about the ice cream issue. I gave it some thought when it popped up on my feed because while I agree with the point being made the post felt a bit off to me. Maybe because a hard stare will elicit a belated “thank you” from my kids about 90% of the time. I only have two but I can’t remember the time that one or the other didn’t get the point and the other chime in after. This is not because they are in any way special but because the requirement of courtesy is always there in any situation. By the age of 5 it was automatic. There is no need to point out that retail clerks deserve courtesy because everyone does, including the kids. I wonder if she ever posted about her gratitude for a thoughtfulness her kids did for her.

    • Rachek

      It wasn’t about getting them to perform a thank you, it was about meaning it. All the other examples are abuse, taking away a treat to reinforce polite behaviour is laughable far away from beating a child. When I was a kid and we were all headed somewhere, if I whined and didn’t listen and threw a fit… we turned around and went home. Even if my parents wanted to go out, even if my brother might get mad, we went home. Was that mean? Maybe. Did it teach me that consequences are real? Yes.

      Forcing a kid to say thank you because its just what you do doesn’t teach them why you should say thank you. A few years ago I was behind the worst kind of parent in line at a store. Her child kept trying to play with the cashier, smiling and waving. Her mother reached out and physically turned her head away, saying “we don’t talk to those people.” I couldn’t believe that really happened. Not teaching people WHY you should be grateful, and that you should actually be grateful instead of just mouthing the words, is how people like that grow up and teach their kids that other people don’t matter.

        • Rachel Newman

          Its in the list right at the top, after which it lumps them together thus: “These are just a few examples from the recent rash of viral child abuse videos that seem to be racking up a collective applause on the internet. “

          • Kevin Geary

            Perhaps you should continue reading… “You may feel like some of these examples aren’t child abuse. Most wouldn’t consider throwing your child’s ice cream in the garbage as child abuse. And while that may not be child abuse as its typically defined, publicly shaming your children on social media in exchange for hearts from friends *is* abusive behavior.”

          • Jackson

            By this logic you can’t consider psychological torment abuse because people hit children or hitting a child abuse because there are people who use weapons against them.

        • Bea

          You implied it was the same.

          Isn’t your using these people as examples, by your standard, the exact same type of shaming behaviour you are preaching is unacceptable?

          • Diane

            In the comment just above yours, it was clarified that there are degrees of abusive behaviour, Bea.

            Um, writing an article for adults about why you hold a particular opinion can be seen as shaming? I think that would be comparing apples with pears, as they say in my part of the world…

          • Eric

            Bea. Just be honest with yourself. You know very well the difference between publicly shaming a child and writing an article on the subject. Your being obtuse and your comment reads “I know you are but what am I” It’s not clever, it’s not funny and it’s not mature.

        • Kari

          On the Thank You topic, something that frequently struggle with is the expectation for children to behave “politely” when they do not yet have the mental capability to understand the concept of politeness and deploy it at the correct times. In this case, it would be quite cruel for food to be thrown away rather that given to the child because said child did not perform politely on command. Part of being polite is the genuine intent, and children, being little balls of ID, do not feel genuine thankfulness the way an adult would.

          Kevin, do you have any further thoughts on this topic?

          • Rebecca

            Too true. Empathy is just beginning to develop in toddlerhood and early childhood and yet we force children to act empathetic when they don’t understand it. We further inhibit their empathy development by not responding in an empathetic manner, sometimes from birth. And yet, it’s still “their fault” for not apologizing….

        • Larry

          Actually most professionals and all the research will tell you that this type of emotional and psychological abuse is far more damaging to a child than physical abuse. This “mother” chose to do the most awful thing to her children that she could, and she did it publicly. She should have those children removed from her home.

          • Aelin

            as someone who was physically and emotionally abused as a child until I was 23 by the woman who gave birth to me, I have to disagree with you. The number of broken bones and doctor visits – having to continually lie – were more damaging than any of the emotional abuse. Dumping ice cream – I wish!!! it was to teach the kids a lesson that one has to mean what one says. If she had dumped their ice cream and then proceeded to hit them, I would have a problem, but she didn’t.

      • Brandy

        8, 7, and 5 are quite old enough to understand the gist of the mother’s message. If at 5 years old your child does not understand that you should say thank you, it is because the child was not raised to do it. One of the major issues in this world is that we refuse to hold our children accountable for their actions. If a child is rude, why reward that behavior, and further enforce it, by giving them desert? Teach them respect young. Once they understand respect you teach them kindness, then they will grow to be respectful, compassionate, kind people.

        As a survivor of child abuse (mental, physical and sexual) I can guarantee you that taking away their desert should NEVER be lumped into the category of abuse. I would have loved for that to be my punishment for bad behavior instead of getting beat with a belt up and down my back because the church van dropped me and my older sister off 6 minutes later then normal (I was 3). THAT is abuse people!

        • Allen Edwards.

          Sigh… I don’t know how you missed it, he was implying that shaming them in public for the sake of congratulations is abusive behavior. Nobody said “taking away their desert” was abuse. Please read before you comment.

          • Ken

            You’re kidding, right?

            Facebook is no different than talking to my coworkers face to face about my daughter. Is that still abusive? You’re stretching here.

            Never, EVER, lump that in with abuse.

            It’s called discussion. It’s what adults do. And it’s done in various outlets. Even on TV (ohhh, the horror).

            I just don’t understand how any of you hipsters can even think this is on par with child abuse. Like someone above said, it’s not a belt to the back. It’s not telling them they’re stupid. It’s a parent sharing (with her friends and followers) a story of how she taught her kids manners her way. That. Is. All.

            I can 100% guarantee that if this was the WORST thing a parent does (I’m referring to the “Facebook shaming” rallying cry you and the others in the “I’m a better parent because I don’t do that” group love so much), Child Protective Services wouldn’t even waste too much of their time on a report.

            It’s people like you and the parent shamers that cause SRS offices to investigate illegitimate claims and take away the necessary resources to catch the true abusive and neglectful parents (and there are plenty of those out there).

            So before you begin to rally for this Facebook cause, be sure your heart’s in it, because your argument is offensive to common sense and completely reactionary.

          • Auryn Grigori

            Actually Ken, Facebook is vastly different than talking to your co-workers face to face about your daughter, unless everyone in the world is your co-worker (in which case, I could use someone to take my shift on Thursday, are you available then?). Even if you have your setting on friends only, you never know if a friend of yours is going to post your kid and make them go viral. And here is another thing, you have no idea what becomes viral. If the World Wide Web can make a kid biting another kid’s finger or a kid who is high as a kite after his oral surgery a star, you don’t think your “conversation” could reach a lot of people, some of whom you would not want around your daughter?

            I am very careful not to put negative stuff about my husband or my child online because I don’t know who will see it and repost. And unlike me, they do not have the context to realize that I think my child or my husband are wonderful people. So they will see the ONE instance in which I got upset with them, and assume that that is what they are, and they will run with it. That is what you are offering to expose your kid to. But hey, you want to open yourself up to everyone on the internet knowing that your daughter was going out after curfew, including some of the creepers online, be my guest.

        • Christy

          Aelin, I don’t think anyone is trying to minimize the pain you underwent, nor are they trying to say that throwing away ice cream is the equivalent of broken bones. I’m sorry you were abused, and I truly hope that you have received help.

          What I really believe is the point is that emotional abuse affects you long after the bones are knitted, the bruises have faded, the welts have disappeared. It’s frequently the emotional aspect of those beatings (or the trust violation of sexual abuse) that causes the most long-lasting problems. The worst beating I ever got from my mother left welts all over my back for a couple weeks. Was it the worst physical damage she did? No. But it was the worst beating because it happened in front of my younger sister. I remember lying on the floor crying out from the pain of the wooden hanger beating my back, and looking up at my sister standing against the wall crying as she watched. I can’t feel those welts (or any of the other physical damage she did to me) but I can still remember the look of terror on my little sister’s face. The only younger sibling I had, and the one person in the world I always felt it was my duty to protect. I knew while I was being beaten that I had failed as a sister. That will never leave me.

      • Error

        Did you bother to continue reading to the point where it wasnt the throwing away of the ice cream that was abuse, but the fact she shared the otherwise personal experience on facebook for likes and mommy points? Didnt think so.

        • Marie

          By the power of the internet’s collective agreement, we have been able to establish that Abusive Ice Cream Mom definitely shared her story for no other reason than to get likes and shares on Facebook. It’s impressive really. No more need to consider things from multiple perspectives or give people any kind of benefit of the doubt. She couldn’t have simply been using social media to share a story (much like we all do every day). Nope. Clearly it’s abusive parenting. I love when stuff like this comes up and allows me to congratulate myself on being superior to someone else. It’s super satisfying.

          • Kevin Geary


            Next time you do something wrong in your personal life, such as be late for work, we’ll be sure to personally blast you all over social media to set an example for others. Maybe we’ll even post a picture of you in a t-shirt that says, “I don’t respect my coworkers enough to show up on time.” And then we’ll see how your smart ass feels.

          • Marie

            @Kevin (because, for some reason, your posts don’t allow me to reply directly to you)

            Oh wonderful. That would, of course, make you just a bit of a hypocrite. And, as you so eloquently showed, hypocrisy in others is just another opportunity to feel better about ourselves. No need to worry about the lesson you’d be trying to teach me, even if you thought it’d be valuable in the long run. I say bring on the t-shirt. The boost in my superiority complex would be well worth it.

          • Kevin Geary

            No, my comment points out YOUR hypocrisy in defending this mother. Who, by the way, it appears was using the post to promote her upcoming book and her personal brand.

      • Lulu

        Rach darling, if swatting ice cream out of your hand isn’t upsetting enough maybe we can talk about righteously airing your humiliation to the country.

        Your quest to find ez criticism and false equivalence got you missing the whole spirit of this article.

        Notice how she falls right into the “I had it worse in my day” argument as if she didn’t even read the damn article. Christ.

      • Kristycat

        It’s weird, but of all the things on the list, throwing the ice cream in the garbage was the one that hit me the most viscerally. No, it’s not physical abuse, but that feeling of having something good and exciting not only taken away but destroyed, thrown in the garbage and made dirty and gross and ruined – yes, that can hurt a child every bit as much as being physically hit. And while one isolated incidence may not count as abuse, emotional abuse absolutely can and does manifest as taking away or destroying things the victim was promised or cares about.

    • Daphne

      My toddler loves to sign thank you. He doesn’t understand the context yet but I tell him thank you signing it and treat him a human. I tell him all the time he is a wonderful person and give lots of hugs and kisses. I build him up so he wants to listen ans do good not tear him down to obey me. He’s a typical toddler not perfect. He is not bad or evil or anything negative, he is a toddler with toddler emotions and understandings of the world. He is not a tiny adult. I wish the world could understand this themselves.

  • Sue

    I agree that this tendency to post parenting moments on facebook is about the parent patting themselves on the back, which is not particularly charning. And public shaming of kids is not on. But there is a huge difference between teaching a child a lesson and child abuse. Yet all forms of discipline are lumped together and called abuse to shame parents into doing things the way so-called parenting experts want children to be raised. This rash of posts, i suspect, is the response of a generation of parents who have learned the hard way that talking to your children in itself achieves absolutely nothing but the loss of their respect.

    • Kevin Geary

      Yet all forms of discipline are lumped together and called abuse to shame parents into doing things the way so-called parenting experts want children to be raised.

      No, I call things abuse that are actually abuse. As I described, no parent would want these things done to them. And yet they’re routinely done to children, which amounts to abusive behavior on the part of the parent.

      Kids don’t have a voice so it’s important that others stand up and speak for them in these circumstances.

      This rash of posts, i suspect, is the response of a generation of parents who have learned the hard way that talking to your children in itself achieves absolutely nothing but the loss of their respect.

      Your arguments regarding “talking to kids” and “teaching a child a lesson” are tired, worn out, and ineffective. They’ve all been addressed here >>

    • Nicole

      In what world does talking to your kids accomplish nothing other than them losing respect for you? We talk to our toddler ALL THE TIME. We don’t force her into things because she’s small and inexperienced in the world, we help her figure out how to cooperate by treating her like a human. She “behaves” because we help her make good choices – she “behaves” precisely BECAUSE we let her make choices.

  • Sam

    Haha. This is trash writing… seriously, not allowing your children to walk all over you and/or others isn’t child abuse. If a child can’t show responsibility or human decency, they have to be taught. I’m against excessive violence, but lumping the woman who denies her children dessert for being ignorant to the importance of other people into the same group as a woman who threatens a child with a knife is delusional at best.

      • David A McReynolds

        <3. Children learn empathy through observing empathy. I was disciplined religiously, and by age 16 I'd just as soon have put a knife in a stranger as greet them. Corporeal punishment only taught me one thing as a child, I could buy compliance with force.

    • Bill

      “if a child cant show responsibility or human decency, they have to be taught ”

      by this im assuming you mean instilling fear, an extrinsic motivator that works short term, and means that your basically “teaching” through domination and force.

      Long term it may be most beneficial to instill understanding of how needs can be met, and what truly benefits us as humans with similar needs.

      I observe kids that are disrespectful because they have been dominated and forced to do things their entire lives, they fail to empathize because empathy is not typically taught, they are disrespectful because they are disrespected and given no autonomy. Cause and effect.

    • Lore

      I don’t even think it’s a matter of throwing it away- it’s the recording and sharing of it… it’s that public shame aspect of it.

      In most things, bad behavior grows over time, I don’t think there’s a reason to use public shaming on kids, if as things come up they’re addressed as well as possible.

      Even if a punishment needs to be done- have it fit the “crime”- sure, but no need to put it online where it will last forever…

    • Nicole

      She didn’t deny them their ice cream. She publicly, intentionally embarassed them because she’s done a crappy job parenting and she was embarassed. If she taught her kids to say please and thank you, she wouldn’t have kids who don’t say please and thank you.

    • Dina

      Totally agree. Stupid to link them. I stole a cap gun when I was 5. I hid it on the top shelf in my closet. When my mom found it, she marched my butt right back to the store and made me admit what I’d done, apologize and return it. Was I humiliated? Yes. Was it abuse? Absolutely not!

        • LizWebsAZ

          Let me preface my comment by saying that I do not have any children, just a cat. I am failing to see why people can not (or will not) understand that the public shaming of the children was the abuse not the throwing away of the ice cream. had the mother thrown away the ice cream thrown away the ice cream and had a discussion with her children about gratitude in private and not posted it on the internet for millions of people to see it would be a non-issue but her decision to publicize what should have been a private family moment elevated the incident to the level of abuse. While some of the commenters have mentioned abuse so egregious and inhumane I dare not repeat it there are different forms or levels of abuse and while I can understand how someone who had been beaten or raped by a parent would not see something like having their ice cream thrown away to be abused, we all have to remember that abuse is relative to the person it’s happening to. I would hope that the three children who were involved in the ice cream incident are not beaten or raped by their parents so this public shaming, which again is the real issue, would, in their life constitute an instance of abuse. I am hoping that I correctly grasp the intent of the article which I very much enjoyed reading.

  • Lissa

    I really enjoyed this article. My heart broke every time I saw someone reposting that paddle video. I refused to watch it, but it still made me so sad. I think there are way more effective ways to learn and interact with your children than being abusive, shaming, or cruel. I have a hard time believing that my child is going to grow up to be a delinquent because I refuse to spank her or shame her into submission. She’s just as much a person as I am and deserves respect. Just because it’s easier to lose your temper and yell, doesn’t mean it’s right or effective.

    • Kevin Geary

      It was hard to watch. But the fact that it’s hard to watch means that you’re empathetic and connected. The people who can easily watch it and who cheer it on are severely disconnected individuals. Kudos to you for doing what you know is right 🙂

    • Stef

      If it is the same paddling video that has been cropping up in my feed lately, the mother recorded and posted it to make people aware that the school INSISTED that she allow them to paddle her child. She tried to refuse consent but was told it was a paddling or a suspension, which would be legally viewed as truancy, which would result in criminal charges being laid against her AND would involve social services to assess the family for neglect. She wanted documentation of what was done to her son and BY WHOM as legal protection for her in case there was welts or bruising left behind and someone saw it, and also in case she decided to speak to a lawyer about what her rights were if the situation ever arose again.

      It was actually the polar opposite of posting a video to shame and blame her child. She was intending to stir up outrage that this practice is still happening in schools and to spark action to hopefully get it outlawed.

      Of course, I might have seen a completely different ‘paddling video’ than the one referenced in the article.

      • Kevin Geary

        I’ve heard that explanation too Stef. I’m not sure how much I buy it.

        I heard her on the tape. The way she talked to him lacked empathy 100%. Her child came to her once and she turned him away, back to his abusers.

        I don’t care what the penalty is to me as an adult. You’re not going to hit my kid unless you want you to drink your food through a straw for the next few months.

        Giving the choice between abusing a child and arresting an adult…that sounds like something the media would love to hear about. I’d be on every channel. That school would be slapped with multiple lawsuits.

        There are many other ways to handle this than cowardly filming the abuse of your child while you stand idly by and tell him to comply. FUCK THAT.

        Of course, this is another reason why I don’t send my children to public schools. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

        • DJ

          Seriously? You think a public paddling is more damaging than later watching your mom get taken away in handcuffs and spending the night with strangers in social services? The entire situation is shitty and someone should be held responsible for abusing that child. And I don’t know the full situation but condemning a parent for allowing their child to paddled instead of going to jail and making the child spend time with strangers CPS is unreasonably judgmental.

          • Kevin Geary

            I’d much rather my child witness me stand up for what’s right and in defense of them than to have them watch me stand idly by while their abusers have their way. However you want to spin that into something that fits your narrative is up to you.

  • Clista

    RACHEL, you are right. I had 7 children not foster children , my own , I was a strict parent, my children turned out polite , well mannered and have all done very well for themselves. They are raising their children the same way. Their children are polite and getting great grades in school. I am a proud Mother & Grandmother. The problem is there are so many people that think they are politically right that feel the needs to post these things. Sorry but this world is not right …. Even the smut on TV for our children to see promotes rude, selfish, lazy and sexually oriented Children..
    I feel sorry for those of you who do not see this. No as adults we would not want any of these things to happen to us, but I bet it did happen when we were children.. We seem to have turned out to be respectful working adults ..

    • Kevin Geary

      Joan Crawford probably insisted that she was a decent parent. Your own account of your parenting and your own assessment of your children is not submittable as evidence in any rational discussion.

      Also, being “polite” and “well mannered” are code for “obedient” and “people pleasing.” These are not virtuous traits. We prefer to discuss things of substance here.

      • Peur deDieu

        Nothing wrong with polite, well behaved children who study at school and do their work and grow into responsible adults. Your snark is misplaced, Mr. Geary. Clista, thank you for doing your job as a parent.

      • Lore

        I was raised to be polite and well-mannered, but also to not be a doormat and a sheep. I was taught to think for myself, I was taught to say please and thank you, to behave when I had to be- and that yeah- I can run around, get dirty, scrape my knees, and be a kid the majority of the time-

        But if we’re in a restaurant, my butt was in the chair, and I wasn’t screaming- like many other kids my age.

        My mom also managed to teach that to me being a young widow, working full time, going to school AND taking care of her disabled mother who lived with us, my grandmother was constantly going to the ER for health reasons.

        Polite and wellmannered being code for those things don’t need to be the case unless you make it so. Your kid can learn early on to treat others politely, but to not accept it if they’re treated poorly in return. I was taught actual respect is earned, and age alone should never automatically earn real *repect* for the person, but that, until proven otherwise, everyone should be treated politely.

        You don’t need to make your kid sheep, to make them, you know- not be rude.

        • Excampuskiddo

          It’s also possible to teach respect through modeling, through respectful interactions (both with young and older children)and through gentle reminders (if necessary) with an older child. Young children don’t quite get the social context of politeness, but will often use niceties correctly if they are modeled in front of them. So, for example, if I ask for something, I say please, and thank you. My daughter sees this interaction. When she asks for something, she tries out please and thank you. Simple. I don’t need to spank her, or withhold food (my dad did this with my brother and me if we didn’t say please and thank you at the dinner table, and honestly I just remember a lot of power struggles as we either dug in our heels and refused to say it, or didn’t understand why our food was being put in the middle of the table and got upset about it), or enact any other punishment to “force” polite behavior. If you’re polite, your kids more than likely will be, too.

          As for sitting still in a restaurant – with small children, not being able to sit still is normal, and if it’s to the point of disrupting a meal, then we leave or we just don’t even attempt to eat out, because it’s not enjoyable whether you punish or not, and you really just need to wait until the kid is older or in a calmer mood to have success. Older kids will have gotten the message through modeling and through those limits (“You need to sit or we will need to leave the restaurant”) that they encountered in earlier childhood, so again, punishment isn’t necessary. You just leave if the kid isn’t able to manage restaurant decorum. (You haven’t lost to Team Kid, btw – being able to see that the child is having difficulty and choosing to leave because of it is what is known as being an adult who is acting in the best interest of the child and isn’t fazed by a child behaving in a developmentally appropriate manner. Punishing, on the other hand, says that the adult is feeling threatened by the child’s behavior and finds it most important to exert authority, rather than to meet the needs of the child like the calm leader a parent should be.)

          • dala

            I’ve found a lot of the time that young children misbehave in restaurants because they are being ignored. Young children can’t self regulate very well, and short times seem like forever to them, so when they are put in a seat in a loud, stimulating environment, generally when they are hungry, and then the adults ignore them for ten minutes, they act out. And then the adults act like the child is ‘bad’ rather than understanding that they are not meeting the child’s needs.

  • Linda Marsh

    Excellent response, Kevin. My daughter is an attachment parent to three precious girls. She believes in validating her children with love and patience. She is the best mother I have ever seen and those girls are gentle,sweet and polite….but are allowed to be who they are and are gently guided through life. Like you….I fear for what is to become of the social media trend towards the “us against them” mentality of parents towards their children.

  • Peur deDieu

    I guess we are all incredibly, terminally tired of permissive, everything-goes, no discipline, self-esteem at all costs, non-parenting that passes for parenting these days. Whole generation is growing up not knowing the value of anything other than self-indulgence. Day by day, we cringe as we get past awful, unruly, out of control children being allowed to wreak havoc with no real consequences. So when somebody takes a stand against it and actually acts- yes, we cheer. That little no-good delinquent slammed by the cop NEEDED some discipline, in way that she could understand; too bad she could not get it in her own home and it took an actual policeman to teach her a lesson.

    Your feel-good wishy-washy non-parenting does not work. Sometimes children need punishment to correct their behavior.

    • Kevin Geary

      Statistically, those kids you’re tired of all get spanked, punished, “disciplined” and yelled at. What evidence do you have otherwise? What evidence do you have that the teenage girl who got body slammed didn’t get routinely spanked as a child and “disciplined” to your liking or worse? Your arguments are nonsensical because they’re born from the fairy tales of your biases.

    • Auryn Grigori

      Actually, she could not get it in her own home because her mother had recently died. I would imagine that the “no good little delinquent” was probably acting out due to her mother’s recent death and her recent placement in a foster home. But I guess that that does not fit your “kids need to have violent battery enacted upon their person to behave” narrative, huh?

    • Sara Lamberto

      If a person cannot lead (aka parent) without trying to punish and control as primary tactics they suck at leadership. If you read the whole thing you would see that no one is advocating permissiveness. He is advocating strong, confident, respectful, loving leadership. Ask all the people in prison whether they were spanked? People (kids) model their parents. So if we want authentically kind, respectful, thankful adults we should model that for them when they are little.

      • Tama

        Absolutely agree Sara, Auryn, and Kevin. Peur, when you see those children, you have no idea what their home life is like, what their particular health or developmental issues might be, how their parents treat them, etc. I don’t understand why people associate gentle, kind parents as “permissive”. It’s absolutely not the same thing.

    • Nicole

      She didn’t deny them their ice cream. She publicly, intentionally embarassed them because she’s done a crappy job parenting and she was embarassed. If she taught her kids to say please and thank you, she wouldn’t have kids who don’t say please and thank you.

  • Katie

    Great writing. I am with you 100%. Before I share, can you provide a citation to your statement regarding the vast majority of parents admitting to hitting their children on a regular basis?

  • Amy

    This message really spoke to me as a parent. It’s really well written and makes me think a lot about my parenting style and how to re approach how I raise my children. I’ve never commented on one of these posts before, but I was incredibly shocked by the ice cream post which lead me to this one. Thanks for the insight!

  • Cardimom

    this is nonsense, it’s time to be done with raising emotionally enfeebled, socially stunted children with an over developed sense of entitlement. Life is difficult, there is no reset, we often lose or get denied and to raise children to think that is not reality is a huge disservice to them.

    • Kevin Geary

      it’s time to be done with raising emotionally enfeebled, socially stunted children…

      The best way to raise emotionally enfeebled, socially stunted children is to hit them, punish them, isolate them, deny their emotions, model being emotionally enfeebled, and order them to be blindly obedient to authority.

      Life is difficult, there is no reset, we often lose or get denied and to raise children to think that is not reality is a huge disservice to them.

      Nobody is arguing for raising children who are ill-prepared for the real world. The best way to be prepare them is to raise them to be emotionally healthy, independent, connected, assertive, and logical. Acting as a hypocrite and modeling abusive behavior is a great way to leave them ill-prepared.

    • Excampuskiddo

      “It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.” – L. R. Knost

      The world will teach its own lessons. My job as a parent is to always be a safe place for my children.

      And if you’re terribly concerned that I’m raising little brats, I’m happy to inform you that my 2.75yo, who has never had a spanking, time-out, or other punishment from us in her life, and who has never been forced to say please, thank you, or sorry, spontaneously and authentically thanks her father every night at the dinner table for cooking her dinner, apologizes on her own when she hurts somebody, and excuses herself when she needs room to get past somebody. Modeling and respectful parenting go a long way!

      • Jason Barr

        I’m a big fan of Knost. Bought all her books when my wife was about to give birth to our son.

        He’s 3 now and behaves in a similar way to your little one.

        Everyone is amazed at how calm and personable he is, and I’m sure at least some of that has to do with the fact that we’ve tried to treat him with respect and gentleness his whole life.

        • Excampuskiddo

          Absolutely. And of course, that’s not to say that she isn’t also strong-willed or that she never has tantrums or that she goes along docilely with everything we say. BUT, I do believe that if we tried to spank the disobedience out of her, we’d also be spanking out the genuine empathy and compassion she shows others. Because either all of those are tied together in her one unique personality, and to force one part to shut down would suppress other parts as well; or by showing aggression and disrespect towards and for her person, we would lose out on those exact opportunities when we most need to model empathy, compassion, and respect, and so she wouldn’t learn them.

          Basically, you can’t treat a distressed, angry, sad, or defiant person with aggression (angry or calm is irrelevant) and force submission AND still expect that person to become empathetic and to listen to others when they are distressed, angry, sad, or defiant. You can’t drive out authetic personality in one area and expect authenticity to remain intact elsewhere.

  • Nicole

    So your definition of child abuse then, is anything an adult would not want done to them? So when my eleven year old son is disrespectful, and I take away his tablet, I must be an abusive parent. Because I don’t want anyone to take away my iPad.

    • Kevin Geary

      Do you think taking his iPad makes him respectful? If he’s 11, and he’s not yet respectful, doesn’t that beg the question, “why haven’t your tactics worked?” It seems to me that if your tactics haven’t been effective over the course of 11 years, you may want to rethink your approach. I know that when people take things from me, I don’t respect them more. Resent, yes. Respect, no.

      • Vi

        In this situation, as a parent that would have taken the iPad if my child was being rude and/or not being helpful around the house, what is your suggestion as to teaching? I’m not going to just let my child be unhelpful in the household or smart mouthy. What would you do in this situation? I really love your article by the way. It opened my eyes in some areas.

        • Excampuskiddo

          Vi, there is a Facebook group that addresses topics exactly like this one in a respectful manner. It’s called Visible Child: Mindful & Proactive Parenting and Caregiving. I encourage you to join it if you found this article enlightening and truly want more ideas for connecting in a positive way.

          • Vi

            Thank you. I will. I have a pre teen and he gets disrespectful (as is normal). When I punish him by with holding, or lose my temper, I don’t feel like it helps. When I sit with him and discuss I feel we found common ground. He knows how I feel, I know how he feels. I need guidance as I trek thru this new venture of being a teenagers mom, lol.

      • Blaise

        Okay, you’re an adult. You can get your own iPad; this kid obviously had it given as a gift by his parents, and therefore him having it is a privilege. Why continue to reward your kids with digital luxuries if they won’t even extend basic courtesy? You talk a great deal about acting like a good person and “join Team Humanity”, but you don’t seem to realize that being respectful and giving common courtesies, like said dad’s bratty kids were *not* doing, comes along with this.

        • Kevin Geary

          Why continue to reward your kids with digital luxuries if they won’t even extend basic courtesy?

          As I already said, if your goal is to have kids who speak respectfully, taking their things isn’t a way to accomplish that. If they’re superficially respectful simply because they’re choosing to be obedient in order to avoid punishment, is that what you’re looking for? Or, are you looking to have a child who is authentically respectful?

          you don’t seem to realize that being respectful and giving common courtesies, like said dad’s bratty kids were *not* doing, comes along with this.

          I’m not failing to realize anything. You’re failing to realize that you’ve just presented a false dichotomy. There are many ways to raise respectful children. Just because I don’t punish my kids by taking things from them if they talk in a disrespectful way doesn’t mean I’m not teaching them to be respectful. Pretending these issues are black and white is a big mistake.

          • WHYDOYIUCARE?

            “This kid obviously had it gotten as a Gift”

            Technically, if you give someone something as a gift, then it isn’t yours anymore. People would frown upon the idea of you taking it back or destroying it after you’ve given it away, in all cases except if you give it to a child. People have weird double standards.

    • Amy

      I think a major issue here not being commented on is not the idea that taking a tablet away from a disrespectfull child being concidered child abuse, but more the public humiliation over the punishment by parents who post it online. It takes it a few steps too far into bragging about your parenting techniques and not actually parenting

      • Kevin Geary

        Correct Amy. Mainstream parents have a hard time sticking to the facts and forming arguments that aren’t straw man arguments. I clearly said that it was the public shaming that was abusive, yet almost all the commenters who are in opposition to the article want to claim that I said throwing away ice cream was abusive or taking an iPad or some other ridiculous notion.

        It’s sad, really. If their position was legitimate, they would be able to defend it fairly and not have to resort to these manipulation tactics.

  • Anna

    I think that we all, as parents, can mess up. The key is to learn better ways of parenting. To understand that not every method is productive and find ways that are. I never spanked, but I yelled my fair share. And then realized that wasn’t actually helping matters.

    Yes, my (now adult) kids are well mannered and polite. But they also know that we all sometimes need a safe place to be mean, angry and downright rude. And it’ll be okay. Because the people who really love them? Will still love them.

  • Jeffrey Glogiewicz

    Thank you greatly for this most awesome article. When I was 12, I decided to survive childhood and never treat a child the way I was treated. It took me a lot of hard work, over several decades, and a bit of grace to heal. My son is 12 now, and he knows nothing of threats nor punishment. My wife and I are completely crazy about him: He is such a joy to behold!

      • Tita

        I had the same childhood. I was abused physicallt, mentally, and emotionally. I was only obedient because it’s a “job” to uphold around my mother’s peers so she can get a pat on the back all while I pay the price. I was a good kid most of the time, but I was also very violent towards my sibling, I nearly hit my brother with a knife when I threw it at him out of rage. I learned to be violent because that’s what I was taught. I’m a mother of a 12 year old daughter, 7 year old boy, and expecting my 3rd. My husband, who grew up in the same environment, agree kids should not be abused (spanked). My 12 year old is still learning, she just goes through phases of preteenhood but she is very intelligent, confident, empathetic, and courteous. My son is very thoughtful, caring, considerate, well mannered, and he loves to take care of me when I’m not feeling good. He’s an absolute gentleman. They learn from my example and my respecting then as humans. They’re also grateful I’m not like many other parents who force dominance on their kids to get things done their way. Breaking the cycle is tough, but very possible and absolutely rewarding.

  • Tom Johnson

    More than once after encountering a video of this nature, I’ve reported it to Facebook in hopes that they would remove it. Incredibly, their response has been that it “does not violate our community standards.” (This stands in contrast to YouTube, which sometimes promptly deleted the same video from their site.)

    Facebook should be called upon to stop allowing itself to be an instrument of humiliation by parents or other authority figures. If it were instead these children’s peers subjecting them to intense shame via social media, it would be suppressed as bullying or harassment. I don’t see how this is any less damaging.

  • Coco

    So any parent that doesn’t do it the way you think is right is wrong? Isn’t that shaming parents who don’t play by your rules isn’t it bullying to single these parents out online and you claim to be ‘above’ that behaviour … hyporicracy at its best!
    Every child is different and requires their own way of learning wether it be through discipline or discussion. Personally for my child showing consequences for bad behaviour works discussing what he did was wrong didn’t and why didn’t it well perhaps it’s because he has behavioral issues and brain damage maybe it’s because without seeing a consequence he doesn’t see the point in behaving. Yes I have raised my child to fit into society I have not abused him I am merely preparing him for becoming an adult. Because in life there are consequences for doing wrong we as adults in the workplace continue to be disciplined by superiors if we break the law there are consequences. What if my child never understood what consequences really were because I didn’t enforce consequences for naughty behaviour how would he then function in an adult world were consequences are real? Or am I just another ‘abusive’ parent (because calling people names isn’t bullying or anything)

    • Kevin Geary

      So any parent that doesn’t do it the way you think is right is wrong?

      We’re talking about abuse. When is abuse the right answer for when your husband is having an argument with you?

      Isn’t that shaming parents who don’t play by your rules isn’t it bullying to single these parents out online and you claim to be ‘above’ that behaviour … hyporicracy at its best!

      Apples, meet oranges.

      Every child is different and requires their own way of learning wether it be through discipline or discussion.

      Every woman is different, not all can be talked to. Some need to be disciplined. — Sounds like you supported what went on in the 1950s Coco.

      These arguments simply aren’t reasonable.

  • LSTL

    You made excellent points here. I have a baby and am learning so much about Gentle Christian Parenting. I know my parents tried very hard and were under severe stress and were sometimes acting on their instincts and impatience. We weren’t physically punished as much as many kids seem to be. I still believe I suffer as a result. I have an incredibly hard time standing up for myself or articulating well when under stress. This has led to issues at work. I am in my 30s and I hope to learn to be a better verbal communicator if I do go back to work.

    Like my sister has pointed out, this is not the easy way out. Talking through issues with children and offering explanations and hearing out the child’s point of view take more time and patience than following your instincts to smack around and get it over with. Often children are scolded or yelled at just because the parent is tired, and not because the child did anything wrong. Everything turns into a moral issue. Sometimes spanking is how parents let kids know they crossed a line.

    Children are human beings and ought to have voices. The Bible doesn’t say that children should be seen and not heard. And from what I’m reading, even “the rod” isn’t necessarily talking about an “instrument of correction.”

    Are some boundaries helpful? Sure. But most children have a desire to please. They love to be praised. So you capitalize on that. And in the end, I don’t want a perfectly obedient child–one who will always submit to someone just because and not be able to question anything verbally. I want her to know what’s right and to have the confidence to stand up for it. I think of the movie Ever After and the girl’s “gift of obedience.” That’s not something I want to give my baby. Teaching her will take time, but I’m stuck with her for 18 years so we have time. I’m not out to make her feel small and worthless just because I can. Those who gentle-parent are after long-term results, not looking good in social circles because their children hop to. Jesus doesn’t lead us to wallow in shame after we make mistakes. We accept his forgiveness and we move on. We always have hope.

    “Obedience is doing what you’re told no matter what’s right. Morality is doing what’s right no matter what you’re told.”

  • LSTL

    One more thing: “According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime”

    I could find many articles to support the following, but I believe it goes without saying that traditionally in African American cultures, spanking children is the norm. This is another conversation I’ve had with my sister. People like to say that if kids are spanked, they won’t end up in prison. Most of the African American prison population has probably experienced very harsh discipline as children. It’s very sad. Not that the parents know any better–it’s how most people are raised, and many believe it is supported by the Bible. I think the tide is turning, though.

  • Jason Barr

    Thank you for this. These types of videos and other posts make me sick, and the enthusiastic chorus of people cheering them on like a crowd at the Roman gladiators’ arena makes me sicker.

    My wife and I have a 3 year old son and one of the things we try to do is make sure that no matter what he does things don’t turn into a contest of wills or let our pride cause us to deal with him as if his acting up was a personal insult…

    …because it isn’t. He’s 3, for crying out loud!

    I think at least in some cases when I see parents hit or cuss their kids it’s because they feel like the kid is challenging their “authority,” that what they want is not good behavior, but compliance like what a police officer would demand. I wonder if most parents even know or care that there’s a difference.

    Operant conditioning doesn’t work the way people think it does on kids, especially with toddlers who literally do not yet have the brain capacity to rationally process rewards and consequences.

    My practice whenever he acts out, throws a tantrum, or does some other kind of undesirable behavior is to misdirect or distract him until the storm is over, then kneel down and talk with him eye-to-eye in a calm, respectful tone about what’s happening, why it’s important to treat others with respect, and what to do next.

    I know he doesn’t always understand everything I say. He’s 3; he’s not there yet. But I also know that once he is old enough to understand we will have long since developed the habit of having respectful and calm conversations to process these situations.

    And he will probably have heard hundreds of times about how important it is to treat others with respect, try to understand, and acknowledge the importance of consent and bodily autonomy (a frequent topic of these conversations).

  • Cipriana Leme

    I think those videos (not popular in Brazil, yet) are going viral because so many people are frustrated with the way they are “miseducating” their own kids. It may sound insane, but way too many people are afraid of their children, or their reactions when scolded about something they do wrong, and are unable to set boundaries or limits (let´s face it, we all need them to some extent). When they see someone doing what they would like to “have the courage to do”, they get overexcited. Its a natural, very sad human response. It´s all an expression of their own failures as parents.

  • Jessica

    Thank you for this article. It is an excellent synopsis of a disturbing trend on social media these days. I’m so glad you have this platform to spread truth about parenting through connection instead of disconnection. I hope it helps someone out there to re-think their parenting strategies!

  • Polly Swain

    More of us nurturing Team Humanity parents need to stand together, I applaud you for your article! I’ve worked as a nurse with families and in child protection for many years and children are treated much worse now than 20 years ago! I treated my daughter either love and respect and she is a wonderful adult now. Thank you for sharing your thoughts ?

  • Stephanie

    Just wanted to say that I loved this article so, so much! It perfectly encapsulates so many of my feelings on this subject. I showed it to my husband and we had a great conversation about it. We don’t have children yet, but we’re trying to learn as much about gentle parenting as possible so we’ll be ready to put it into practice when the time comes.

    Thank you for writing this, and for being a voice for children.

  • Candace

    Wow, teaching children respect snd how to behave is now chold abuse? It’s this mentality that has our society so me oriented that asaults and murders are common place. Seems to me children and adults actually cared about what was going on sround them and not just their own personal gratification before all this BS child rearing crap.

    • Kevin Geary

      Sigh. This elementary logic and nonsensical argumentation has to stop. It’s getting really old.

      Wow, teaching children respect snd how to behave is now chold abuse?

      Shaming and abusing children is not how you teach respect. It’s how you teach fear and mistrust.

      It’s this mentality that has our society so me oriented that asaults and murders are common place.

      That’s factually incorrect. The vast majority of people who commit these crimes were hit and harshly disciplined as children, as well as growing up in circumstances of physical and emotional neglect.

    • Ash

      A few things.
      1. You can absolutely raise your children respectfully without scarring them. Assaulting them is abuse. If you wouldn’t let your husband do it to you, why would you do it to a child who can’t even understand the circumstances fully?
      2. Murders are not commonplace and never have been. Our awareness of them has gone up because of how connected our society is to information sources. Violent crime (including homicides) rates have fallen precipitously every year for the past two decades and continue to do so.
      3. If you are worried about children and adults being so into self gratification, why are you not scolding these parents for posting these videos on social media looking for validation and a circle jerk? If it was the right way to parent, why would it need to be posted anywhere?

  • John

    Keep on providing yourselves excuses for not raising your children, with attitudes like yours it is no wonder that every college needs safe zones where your poor precious babies don’t have to listen to the truth that the world does not revolve around them. SHAME SHAME SHAME

    • Kevin Geary

      So because we don’t condone abusive behavior on the part of parents, your argument is that we don’t raise our children? You realize that’s a totally unreasonable argument right? In fact, you realize that’s not an argument at all right?

  • Shelby H

    Thank you very much for this article. I just saw the ice cream throwing away post and in addition to what you said, there’s also a pervasive internet phenomenon of parents gaining profit and attention at the expense of their children. The ice cream article I read made sure to mention the mother’s monetized Facebook page a number of times and also mentioned, with a link, her forthcoming book. This had nothing to do with parenting. It had everything to do with free viral advertising from which she will gain direct financial benefit as well as tons of personal attention. Who needs to pay for advertising when you can just post a story or video of your “controversial parenting techniques” that you know thousands are going to respond to and share? The only losers in this scenario are those children. If this even happened at all.

    And I don’t know if you’ve already addressed this, but one thing that absolutely breaks my heart are the “funny” child humiliation videos like “tell your kids you ate all their Halloween candy and film their devastated reactions for everyone else to laugh at.” I personally consider this a form of abuse. I don’t understand it. Play a cruel joke on your children/teen in order to film it, post it, and make people laugh? It’s cruel.

    • LR

      I agree with you, Shelby. It’s hard for me to understand 1. how parents can use their children for “entertainment” in that way, and 2. how anyone is at all entertained by it. I watched one of those videos by mistake and found it heartbreaking. I haven’t seem them circulating lately. I hope they are a dying breed.

    • Lucy

      Anther good example of this is a video on “America’s Funniest Home Videos” in which parents promise a teenage girl (16 years old) a car for her birthday and give her car keys. Then, when she goes into the garage, she finds that the “car” she has been given is a little toy car, and she bursts into tears, crying about how mean that prank was. Neither me nor my Baby Boomer parents thought that was funny.
      To those of you out there who may think that girl “deserved” it, there is no evidence in that video that the girl did anything wrong, and any reasonable parent who thought the girl should be punished by not getting a car right away (which is not abuse, any more than it would be to deny an all-too-trigger-happy person a gun until they could act responsibly) would tell her she has to wait longer for a car and would not pretend to give her one, let alone send a video of her reaction to “America’s Funniest Home Videos”. The fact that that video was sent to “America’s FUNNIEST Home Videos” should be a big clue as to what their motivations are, btw.

  • Tonia

    I’m entertained by this whole argument that kids “these days” and parents “these days” are a certain way. When I was growing up in the 1970s my parents were very concerned that they not be too permissive with me and my siblings because they believed A) their generation (baby boomers) had been over indulged and had turned into useless hippies, which they most definitely did not want for their children, thank you very much and B) they didn’t want us raised in the permissive environment that their own peers were raising their children in! In my lifetime alone, we are now on the fourth, and arguably the fifth, generation of children who are being raised to be thankless, undisciplined, slobs- or so people would have us believe. If every generation has been so horrible, how on earth have we made the progress that we’ve made in so many areas?! I once read a quite long quote about how horrible “kids these days” were and when you got to the end it was dated something like 1300! Kevin, your point is well made- people are being driven in their parenting choices by fear. I only want to add that the fear is all in our heads. Cheers!

    • Jason

      Horace wrote this in 23 BCE (in Latin, obviously):

      Our sires’ age was worse than our grandsires’. We, their sons, are more worthless than they; so in our turn we shall give the world a progeny yet more corrupt.

      Fits with the “my generation is raising crap kids” theme pretty well. There truly is nothing new under the sun.

  • Kate

    The “ice cream” story is only the most recent, but it’s the one I’ve seen the most of over the part few days. (The paddling thing, don’t get me started. Lawsuits would be knee-deep at that school if I were the parent – they’re ignoring her signed denial of consent. The one they required her to sign at the beginning of the year.) Anyone that backs her tactics should actually read into the situation. The article I read had her self-identifying as a bully in her teen years and it seems like precious little has changed for her. To get them ice cream, wait for them to walk out and then go and snatch it away to bin it… no. Just no. That’s mental abuse. They’ll learn a lesson from it, but not about being polite. They’ll learn that Mom is a hairy nutjob who will change moods on a dime and make them miserable for the hell of it. And then show off their misery to the world.

    I have a son. He’s 14 now. And a Boy Scout. And he’s been praised by people for his manners. Know how he got them? He watched me and his father use them. And, as a little fella, he got a gentle poke in the shoulder occasionally to remind him to use his. Guess what – I didn’t have to shame him, hit him or yank an ice cream from him to get it to stick.

  • LC

    Your article was very eye opening and thought provoking for me. As a parent of 6yo twin boys I question my parenting decisions everyday. I have spanked them, what I have learned is that it didn’t accomplish anything. In fact they just got meaner and more aggressive and I felt like I had to be meaner and more aggressive than them. This is not parenting! When I am calm anything I do and say to them has so much more meaning that it is easier to teach right from wrong or how to behave or do something.

  • Dan

    You bleeding hearts are the demise of the human race. Keep coddling all the special little snowflakes into the terrible whining little shits they all are becoming. When reality hits them, they won’t even know how to function.

    • Nin

      My mother ‘disciplined’ me into a coma on two occasions in my life- is this the ‘reality’ that you’re gleefully hoping will come smacking the ‘whining little shits’ in the face? The bottom half of my face had to be rebuilt when I was 15 months old due to my mother’s ‘reality’; shame, humiliation, physical violence,psychological and emotional torture, all approved of by the ‘church’ and the culture of the day because ‘that’s what it takes to raise a child to be respectful’. Did this make me a ‘better’ individual?

      I sincerely hope that when the time comes for you to go into a nursing home you are ‘taken care’ of by individuals raised the way you are advocating children be treated, so that *your* special brand of snowflake can be abused and mistreated as a senior just as you advocate doing to children. Isn’t it interesting that the rise of violence against seniors and the vulnerable is being led by a society that advocates violence against children…

  • Lindsay thompson

    Did you even do any research before your article? The mother who filmed her child being paddled did so in secret, to show others what the school did to her child, not that she was condoning the spanking. She had previously been arrested because her child had missed too many days of school, and when he acted up, the school said he had to take the spanking or not be allowed back at school and the mother was worried about being arrested again. Me personally, I would have risked getting arrested than watch my child go through that, but if you heard her side of it, she really felt like she didn’t have a choice. She pretended to text and was instead videoing to show others what her child had to go through. I think it was a learning experience for many, including myself, as I didn’t even know spanking at a school was legal.

    • Kevin Geary

      The mother who filmed her child being paddled did so in secret, to show others what the school did to her child, not that she was condoning the spanking.

      This has already been addressed in the comments. Perhaps *you* should research…

      • Joanna Bleakley

        Yeah….someone tries to hold my child down and hit him while he screams for me? They’ll be picking their teeth off the floor and eating with a straw for a few months. I don’t condone violence, but just the thought of someone doing that to my kid makes me see red. If I lived in a country where the only options were to let my child get beaten, or get arrested, I’d pick a different country. The fact that this happened in an ‘enlightened’ Western country is sickening. I know, I know, worse things happen in other countries, blah, blah. By default, Western, ‘civilised’ countries are supposed to hold themselves to a higher standard.

  • Cindy

    From the moment I gave birth to my first baby, I felt a conviction in my heart that I must treat this person the way I would have wanted to be treated. I have 3 wonderful children who are people that deserve respect, kindness, gentleness, and unconditional love. They give me and everyone they encounter all of those things in return. I am so excited to see the people that my children truly are because their spirit has never been crushed by shame, isolation or fear.

  • Nichole

    Thank you for saying what I often feel but don’t have a platform to communicate it in this way. The public display of abuse and punishment is a sickening trend. I hope your article gets through to the people who need it the most.

  • Martha

    As a parent and as a person who did face a level of abuse as a child, I think we may level judgement too easily on parents. Of course, I agree with the general tenor of this article — that children are indeed little people who should be treated as we would want to be treated. And I honestly think that short of a child drawing a weapon, there is no situation where they need to be body slammed or have a weapon drawn on them — that’s outright abuse. There is an element of parenting, however, that does demand respect and obedience and sometimes children themselves draw the line between themselves and us, not because they are bad, but because they have will (which is good) and their will is not tempered by wisdom or knowledge yet. My experience as a parent is always walking that fine line between respect and kindness and love for one’s children and certain expectations for their behavior. The golden rule here gets complicated — we want to treat them how we would want to be treated with the long look back on childhood from adulthood, not necessarily how they want to be treated in the moment. If your son asks if he can juggle chainsaws, he wants you to say yes, I’m so proud; but his older self definitely wants you to say no. It’s a difficult line to walk and I find myself falling off one side or the other at times and I’m guessing that’s the experience of almost all parents. It’s also valuable to know that 1. not all children are the same — their own personalities do shape our parenting styles and 2. our own failings make us determined that our kids will not fail in the same way and I think that’s valuable because our kids are like us, for better or for worse. So, in terms of throwing away the ice cream, I did hear the mother’s comment that she herself had been a bully and did not want her kids to be bullies. I think that’s on point. We can quibble about whether she could have gotten them to learn the lesson in a kinder way all day (likely … in similar situations, I have talked about it with my kids in the car while they were eating their treats). That she posted it for such a wide following that she got 132,000 comments and we are talking about it now is, perhaps, questionable judgement. That said, that her motivations for doing so were to get virtual pats on the back is an assumption. She may feel that she is being an example for others. I think that one incident is not indicative of being abusive or not abusive, because as parents, I think we may all have incidents in our lives that are on the line of emotional abuse. We lost it and we yelled too much. We put them on time out when we should have not punished them at all. We inadvertently embarrassed them, etc. These incidences do not make us abusive parents, though. It’s the consistent pattern of abuse, I think, that is finally greatly damaging. Like all human relationships, the one between parents and children requires grace from both sides and as a parent, I carry out the role in fear and trembling, worrying constantly about how much I screwed it up. I think that perhaps if we’re too confident in the role, we might be doing it wrongly and we would do well to be kind to other parents as well (even while taking a stand against overt, incontrovertible child abuse). In short, being gentle and kind with each other will go a long way in setting an example for our kids as well.

      • Martha

        Touche. But, that we fall into our failings as parents is not irony, it’s like gravity — almost inevitable. I’m not actually saying that her choices were the ideal ones, but that it seems that she was trying to do the right thing, just as our kids generally try to do the right things. Adults as well, do not need shame or censure, but support and suggestions. Obviously, sometimes people are actually engaging in truly criminal activity and need to be removed from the situation because their actions are so damaging, but I wouldn’t throw this mother into that category. So, personally, I have a very high energy, high risk taking, strong willed son, who is now a wonderful (truly) teenager. As a mother, when he was young, I received censure from every side. Within ten mins., of him having one of his very frequent and dramatic tantrums, I would be criticized for being too lenient (otherwise he wouldn’t be having a tantrum) or too tough (I should give him whatever he had asked for that started the tantrum so he would be appeased). If we were on the playground, I was too lenient — he wasn’t playing quietly like some of the other children — or too tough — I had made him sit down and quiet down and now he was crying. That’s not to say I did everything in an ideal manner, but no one needs the censure when they are trying their best. Well motivated suggestions are (or at least should be) welcome. And by the way, I know that my own son’s personality was the major factor in that constant censure, because I also have a little girl who is not a risk taker, who tends to be quiet and who tends to be compliant (also now a wonderful tween). I never received any censure about my parenting about her, but I’m the same parent and in fact, I see that her tendency to being quiet and compliant is at least just as much of a danger to her in the adult world than his brashness. Truth be told, U.S. society has very inflexible views of how children should behave. These views come down hard on high energy little boys when children are small and strongly opinionated girls when they are teenagers. And they catch parents in the middle: X is the standard for how toddlers and pre-schoolers behave, but my child, although good-hearted, does not behave in this way and there are real consequences to him/her in society away from me when s/he does not behave in this way. I applaud the vision on your site, but until your tone is supportive to parents trying to navigate all the factors involved in parenting (1. their own personalities and failings; 2.) unrealistic societal expectations of children; 3.) their children’s personalities; 4.) the inherent difficulty in successful parenting and the inevitability that parents will not be perfect), you won’t be successful in achieving real change. I offer that as a positive criticism and suggestion, not as a censure.

        • Martha

          And please note that non-white parents, or parents of non-white kids get MUCH more censure anyway than white parents of white kids. I am white and my kids are Latino. And people — it’s awful, but true — people just assume that kids of color who are “misbehaving” are bad kids and there are very real consequences for this in the real world. This was driven home to me one day when I was out with my kids and two of their friends who happen to be African American. We went to McDonald’s and my son and his friend started play fighting with each other in the restaurant — two 13-year olds goofing around. I didn’t think anything of it, until I realized that every single other patron in the store was staring at them with disapproval and fear and all the patrons were white. That’s a bad situation. It really is. If they had been two white boys, no one would have paid much attention. As it was, they were reacting as if they were gang members on the edge of shooting up the restaurant. And I realized how frightening it is for an African American mother to face that with her children all the time. So, if an African American parent looks like they are being too tough on their children to get them to act a certain way, it should be understood that this is a way of protecting them from very serious consequences — even death. So, as you start your parenting revolution, Godspeed, but keep in mind not all parenting situations are even close to equal.

          • Rae

            Martha I would love to read some of your work. I enjoyed reading what you had to say and your insight into this. May I ask where someone could find your work?

          • Martha

            Okay, that’s fine. I’m a professional writer and someone who works in the nonprofit arena — I can only speak to this one article and how I personally responded to it. I know how to analyze tone in writing and although you likely are having a very positive influence on many people, the tone in this article will push away others who might benefit. All the best.

          • Martha

            one other note and then I’m out: I really like the quote about not toughening kids up to face a cruel and heartless world, but raising them to make the world less cruel and heartless. It’s a really beautiful and apt sentiment. However, it only really works if you are raising your kid in a part of society where 1.) you can provide them with safety and 2.) they are in the class that has at least some power. If you are raising children of color in a U.S. inner city, you have to indeed prepare them for the realities just outside your door. To survive, they may well have to be both tough and compliant at the same time as the situation requires and against their very natures. To survive, they may have to literally beat the bully to a pulp and then say “Yes, Sir,” when they are unjustly harassed by a cop. When you are facing your kid being dead or having to swallow their emotions, you’re going to choose them swallowing their emotions. Not every kid is destined to be Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — there is only one of those in a century if that. Most will have ordinary lives from the background in which they begin. As a parent, your task is to prepare them the best of you can for their reality. This is not coming from my personal experience, but from my observations. You are trying to start a very admirable revolution — that revolution should be relevant to everyone.

          • Martha

            I suppose it seems that way, but my intention is to share my experiences so the point is relatable and not preachy. I do not feel like a victim because parents are critical of other parents, including me. I just believe that censure between parents is counter productive and tends to get a hardened response rather than an open one. And I believe that because I have experienced it, which gives credence to my belief. I am not coming from a victim mentality when I talk about African American and Latino communities; I am simply stating that the reality for parents in these communities is different. Truth is truth is truth. I have worked in the civil rights nonprofit arena for more than a quarter of a decade. I can quote a long line of statistics on these issues, but what I chose to share was, again, my personal experience. I am no victim, I am a middle aged woman with a great family and a successful career. And my kids are certainly not victims — if anything, they are privileged. I chose to comment in the beginning because you are starting a movement for a better way of raising children, which will lead to a better society. I agree with you and I applaud you. I hope that you are successful because I agree with you and so that’s why I shared my perspective, because I thought it would be an enhancement of your viewpoint and allow you to include more people.

  • Nancene

    I was completely ill-prepared for raising children and then I ended up having 4. I did a lot of yelling and sometimes spanking and my husband was the same, only a little harsher. This “discipline” was always done in anger, and, apparently, the preposterous belief that children should just know what they should or shouldn’t do without ever being shown or taught. I was also profoundly depressed and undiagnosed. When my fourth child was about 2, I started therapy for the first time and when he was 3, I went back to school and began to get some of my identity and self-esteem back. I became a social worker and, along the way, started learning alternative parenting techniques. I got better at it, but by then my daughters were 11, 10 and 7. Now I am 70 and my oldest child is 50. My kids are the best people I know. I have nothing but admiration and respect for the parenting methods (gentle, respectful, understanding) used by the three who have children. My other daughter has frequently worked with children and is a genius at connecting with her nieces and nephews. I may have contributed some to their stellar personalities and exemplary values, but mostly, I think they became who they are in spite of their rocky childhood. I wish I had had the benefit of the ideas presented here much sooner in their lives.

  • Suz

    Treating children with decency and respect does not mean that you are permissive or too lenient. It means that you try to teach children the lessons and skills they need in a positive manner; they way you would want to be treated when you make a mistake. It’s called teaching your children the Golden Rule by example.

    Oh, and I was not aware that posting violence against children was a thing or that people were supporting it. That’s disgusting.

  • Midori

    Very accurate article that very well described what I’ve been struggling to put into words as of late. This kind of parenting behaviour also explains similar attitudes towards children of learning differences or disabilities – I see a lot of the same terrible parenting directed at that particular demographic.

    However, I don’t think the “lenient parents” thing is completely untrue. I’ve seen repeat examples of parents simply allowing children to do whatever, usually for the same validation needs as the abusive parents – disciplining their children makes them look bad in the public eye, so they avoid it. I think it’s more 50/50, there seems to be no middle ground, parenting today seems to be either one extreme or the other (to be fair, we only here from the extremes on social media, so maybe the middle ground just isn’t doing anything to draw attention to themselves). There’s parents who do nothing, and there’s parents who overreact.

    On another note, I literally just read the original article of ice cream example, and it doesn’t come of as publicly shaming kids at all (though, yes, I agree that publicly shaming kids is wrong – there’s a fine line between telling a kid off, and shaming them). For one, she didn’t write about the story of Facebook, she wrote about it on her youtube video series. She dumped her kids’ ice cream because they hadn’t said thank-you to the DQ waitress – she wanted to teach them, not just basic manners, but to recognize that their waitress was a working human being who deserved to be looked at and thanked. In my opinion, it was a very valuable lesson to teach, and it only cost them ice cream. She wrote and spoke about it in her video series on human connectivity, to inspire other people to install the same lesson in her own children, and to emphasis how important it is to simply be polite to people – how much being impolite, and simply “looking through” people actually effects them. And in the article she writes about how rude and unconsidered she herself was growing up, she writes that she didn’t realize the impact of her actions, and inactions, on the people around her until her late twenties, and that realizing that in herself inspired her to change, and to teach her kids to never become what she became… in saying that, she publicly shamed herself, not a her children. People who merely want attention, do not ever paint negative images of themselves (unless they’re meant to attract pity).

    Anyways, I just felt the need to say that, I felt like someone should. Because I don’t think this woman deserved to be shamed on social media.

    • Mom to Seven

      Treating a child so disrespectfully does not teach them to value or respect others. DEMONSTRATING that kind of respect does. If you really want a child to internalize that kind of behavior, then you treat THEM with the same level of respect and dignity that you do the DQ lady. You go out of your way to be especially polite to others, because that is what your children will see and emulate. Taking away something you just gave someone is a disrespectful way to treat any person. If someone did that to you, I sincerely doubt you would learn to be more aware or compassionate towards others, you would probably be thinking about what a jerk the person who just threw away the treat they bought you really was… and you would be right. You are saying that you get to be rude (and throwing away the ice cream was completely rude) in order to make someone feel bad for not treating someone else politely. How does that make any sense? What it does teach is that you get to be rude to some people in order to force them to be polite to others…. which of course, is hypocrisy.

  • Kay

    I find many of the comments here quite as frightening as those “parenting” videos and posts. I think, Kevin, you hit it with Team Adult versus Team Kid, and I will never understand why people have such a low opinion of their children. They ascribe manipulative, devious or outright mean thoughts and behaviors to their children – which is especially ludicrous when you consider how sophisticated some of these maneuvers are and how long it takes for a child’s brain to have enough bingo balls together to be that sophisticated.

    I get a lot of grief, because I’m the hippie parent who doesn’t punish in a very evangelical “wages of sin” kind of environment. I don’t want an obedient child. I want a cooperative child, who knows that everybody makes mistakes and that it’s okay to just fix them or to just say sorry even – without the wrath of parental deities coming down on you and throwing your stuff away, yelling or harming you.

    Last weekend, I messed up a project. I’m a freelance writer and even after 20 years on the job, I totally underestimated the time and needed to ask my family to change weekend plans to help me out. It was all my fault and I really should have known better- and nobody took away my tablet or dessert, nobody shamed me on social media, nobody berated or hit me. In fact, nothing happened to me other than people being slightly disappointed but understanding and shuffling things around to make things work. Now why on earth wouldn’t my children, who have had much less experience at doing life, deserve the same treatment?

  • Jibril

    While I agree with a lot of what you saying I also think it’s a little Over stated.

    Yes there are some extremes. Getting mad at kids about grades doesn’t help anything for various reasons, ranging from How a child learns to How the teacher teaches. Grades are a construct that are woefully unqualified to evaluate someone despite the claim that it’s ‘equal’

    But, For example, the Ice cream situation.

    First of all, no that’s not abuse. Speaking as someone who has been, No, it’s not, it’s not physical it’s not emotional. It’s just not. It’s a lesson.

    The thing is Children are, in a wa, Little animals. Now before people start brandishing Pitchforks., That means you where an animal once to. You grew into a person because of lessons you where taught. You learned manners. You learned right and wrong. You learned not to stick a fork in an electrical outlet.

    You’re not born with all knowledge. that means learning that some actions have sever consequences. Learning to have genral human decency (If you need more information on that do research into ‘feral children’ Yes it is a thing)

    One major problem is that Now a days people are getting afraid to discipline children, because inevitably there are outcries of ‘abuse abuse’ When there is none.

    People who share these stories on face book such as the shame shirt, or tossing away and Ice cream. Their trying to educate their children with out falling on the old spanking, or a time out. their saying ‘Look You can discipline your child with out hurting them.’ but then people shout ‘no that’s still abuse’ But it’s not, it’s education,

    For example lets take the Ice cream scenario and reverse it.

    The girl Ignores her customers, Makes no attempt at eye contact, take their money and doesn’t even say ‘have a nice day’ ‘come again’ or ‘thank you for your order’

    It would then be socially acceptable for her to be reprimanded by her manager, or even fired.

    So why is it not ok to Reprimand a child in the same way?

    Do you see what I’m getting at?

    Now the grandmother with the knife? Thats not really a viral support of abuse. You might get a couple sickos saying ‘oh that’s great go you grandma’ But I think you’ll find the majority of people agree that it’s awful and hoping the kid is ok.

    Now unfortunately there are a lot of instances of Parents having a go at their kids over grades, I touched on this above. And no I don’t condone it for several reasons, not the least of which being Grades are not equal. However with out knowing which specific Event your touching on I can’t offer My opinion so I apologize.

    Now the cop Body slamming a girl? I dunno I really don’t and it’s not really related to Abusive parenting That Abuse of power and authority of cops, and Misbehaving teens and whole kettle of fish that isn’t part of this argument so I’m not going to touch on it and how it fits in, be cause it doesn’t.

    The woman standing by while her kids get paddled at school? If your talking about the Georgia incident that’s a big bag of controversy right now, Therese two versions of the story but both seem to say the woman filmed it, to have evidence of how The Georgian state law (that allows Paddling) is wrong.

    Now onto the ‘I was spanked and I was fine’ Argument. First, Yes, I am one, I was spanked, I am fine. When was I spanked? In all my life I was spanked one time for Proper reasons. (Other reasons are related to abuse and I do not dignify)

    It when I swore at my mother. Even as an adult I fully believe I deserved it, I knew I was in the wrong and I regret it, I tried to run away Because I knew I was in the wrong and didn’t want to face up to it, I got a firm swat on the bum from my father. That was perfectly acceptable. I learned, I will never ever validate the other times I was ‘disciplined’ by my father, But that one time, That single time. I do believe he was right, I messed up, I messed up bad and I wanted to run from my responsibility of it, which made it worse. I learned respect. I learned running away from a mistake makes it worse.

    However we are seeing an emergence of a new type of parenting. Understanding the cause of behavior and trying to change it. Yes this is good. But When people throw out ‘abuse’ to stop parents from disciplining (Taking away Ice cream, Grounding, Taking away X-box privileges ect.)

    No I do not believe Spankings are a be all end all. That is a Last ditch effort, all else fails, There is no other option. Like I said It happened Once in my life that can be justified fr some it may never happen. Parenting is just a much a learning curve for a parent as it is a child.

    and social media. It’s a tool to learn.

    ‘I used this shirt method. When my children bicker I put them in this shirt to share. This helps them understand, There are times you won’t agree but your still siblings. Maybe it will help you with your kids’

    It’s not Shaming. While yes we do need to phase out a Jump to a spanking’ mind set. we also need to understand that education works differently for everyone, teaching a child right and wrong through discipline is not bad. Sharing how yu do it is not bad especially if it helps others.

    (I appologize if this gets a little, wiggly, I’m autistic and can have difficulty articulating my thoughts in a way others understand.)

  • Thomas

    Calling the incident where the woman dumped her kids ice cream in the trash for not saying thank you child abuse has to be the dumbest thing I’ve seen in a long time. Ha ha!! I’m pretty sure the kids will turn out fine without their ice cream and they learned a valuable lesson. Get off your high horse.

  • John Boulware

    You’ve redefined the term “abuse” much in the same way “bullying,” “racism,” and “sexism” have been in recent years, and in so doing have diluted the meaning, importance and urgency of the of the word to a caricature of its it’s true intent. This popularity with expanding the definitions of serious issues is dangerous as it does a disservice to the real problems while potentially getting benign actions like tossing out ice cream caught up in the rage over “abuse.” Your article is profoundly irresponsible and does nothing to highlight legitimate concerns of abuse.

    • Kevin Geary

      I’ve done nothing of the sort. What you have done is completely mischaracterized my very clear argument. I never said throwing away ice cream was abuse. Please try reading more slowly next time.

  • Micky

    Did anyone else notice that “ice cream mom” didn’t tell the cashier ‘thank you’ either? Perhaps her children were just following her lead.

    • Susie

      Yes! You teach gratitude by example. A reminder, even to an 8 year old, should have been sufficient. Throwing away the ice cream was not only mean – it was ineffective as a learning experience. If your children are not expressing gratitude, check your own behavior.

    • Cindy

      I did notice that! What bothered me
      Is that in her effort to teach her kids to be kind to strangers, she treated her own children like they don’t matter. What lesson is she really teaching? That the people closest to you can treat you like crap, but make sure you treat other kind? Kindness and respect are learned by example, not by force. I bet the feeling those kids ended up with was resentment.

  • joseph horvath

    I tell my kids they always have two choices. If they do the right thing, they will be rewarded. Use of internet, access to an electronic device etc, IS a reward. If they mess up and don’t behave acceptably, then they have their privileges restricted/removed, correlating to the level of their misbehaviours. They must be respectful, not behave erratically/angrily ( I have taught them anger management techniques as I have also learnt) and help around the house and try their best at school ( grades are not important as long as their effort and behaviour is excellent ) I think my children are good and I always get positive comments from others as to how well behaved they are. My theory is, in life, no one has a right to hit, yell or be abusive to you as an adult, so why should a child be treated differently. Also in life is you choose to do nothing and do the wrong thing… There is no reward ie, car house holiday etc. Simple really.

  • CC

    Please take a moment to also consider, when we’re validating this kind of abusive parenting, that its effects are ten times worse when your child is neuroatypical.

    I’m autistic and while my parents never consciously or maliciously abused me, they did do many things that left me confused, or afraid, and never explained, because surely a kid as smart as I was had to “get it”, I was just “being difficult.” I also encountered a lot of “can’t you just be normal?” and “it’s not that bad, buck up” talk – when in reality, an autistic person’s pain threshold is very different than a neurotypical’s, and even as a kid I had no idea what “normal” actually meant.

    All this talk about operant conditioning – the most common autistic “therapy” today is Applied Behavioral Analysis, which literally has its roots in exactly the same thought as gay conversion therapy (the same man is credited as the father of both techniques). Autistic people are restrained and denied things like food, books, comfort items, etc, unless they learn to act neurotypical. “Normal.” Something like 3 of every 10 autistic adults has PTSD, and very often it is related exclusively to the “therapies” their parents forced them into.

    No child should ever be abused, but autistic and disabled children get it far worse than neurotypical children, because very often, no one even calls it abuse. They call it ‘therapy’ or ‘conditioning.’

  • Christina

    I might have an unpopular opinion here, but it is a strong one. While I completely agree that any kind of abuse or trauma that parents intentionally inflict or publicize is wrong, I do not fully agree with this article. I actually don’t like it. The author seems to view things very linearly – good vs. bad, us vs. them, right vs. wrong. It speaks in opposites, while most of life is not so. People are not linear. People have hearts, minds, souls and life can be complex. It also squarely judges very different and unique examples that cannot even compare with one another. Physical abuse and wearing a “get-a-long” shirt are not comparable. I am a step parent, an adoptive parent, and a biological parent. I am the only person who walks in my shoes. Even if you have the same “parenting roles”, your children are different than mine, your family is different, your life is different. When do we have the right to “hate”, to pass judgement? Does it matter if we shame the parent who is 16 or 60? How do we even know if they “should” know better? We stand in the spotlight pointing fingers and making the same or even worse assumptions, yet we justify it. Most parents that I know, try hard, they make mistakes, they often regret their behaviors, they wish they handled situations differently after reflecting, they struggle, they occasionally get caught up in hype, and they are wrong. However, they are good people, they are loving parents, they get angry or confused and are flawed. They care enough to try better each day, to learn from their mistakes, to have a stronger heart, faith and will. We then, become the exact hypocrites that we condemn. We judge, we ridicule other parents, sometimes harshly, sometimes unfairly. I see that here by the immediate comments by other parents. I feel uncomfortable or disagree with many physical discipline methods or verbal negativity that other parents do/use/exercise. But, I do not need to criticize them or judge them. I believe that judgement can be just as wrong. I am human. I make mistakes. Growth and learning NEVER stops, not when you become a parent, not when you make a huge mistake, not when you reach a certain age. Each child is so different that parenting is a new experience with each child, and every day is a learning experience. Maybe these “bad” parents that do “wrong” things need our support. Maybe they had “bad” parents, or no parents at all to teach them any differently. Maybe they might be “tacky” about it, but are truly proud of their children and want to tell the world. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t, but I don’t know that and neither do any of you. Compassion, advice, constructive support and listening with an open mind are better responses. If something illegal or dangerous is done, act immediately and yes, call the authorities or stand up. And consider trying to empathize with them, or at least praying for them. If it is a parenting choice that you don’t agree with or even “hate”, try to understand and help that person learn options to handle the situation better in the future. We “mom shame” the moms who “mom shame”. We can be verbally abusive in our words and thoughts to other parents that we don’t even know. I am frustrated that the very cycle we condemn and rebuke continues, and it is perpetuated by our own condemnation. Degradation by anyone to anyone is unnecessary. Let’s all stop casting stones and use them to build something. ALL people of ALL ages need the love, compassion, understanding and unity. Parents need it just as much.

    • CC

      We have the right to judge when parenting decisions cause harm. Spare me your preaching when I’ve seen autistic children die by their parents’ hands, only to see their killer parents get off with slaps on the wrist. Just stop.

    • Kevin Geary

      The author seems to view things very linearly – good vs. bad, us vs. them, right vs. wrong. It speaks in opposites, while most of life is not so. People are not linear.

      PRINCIPLES are linear.

      It also squarely judges very different and unique examples that cannot even compare with one another. Physical abuse and wearing a “get-a-long” shirt are not comparable.

      Sigh. Not ONE person who has disagreed with the article has been able to form an argument without first manipulating the argument the article makes. This is a straw man. Nobody said they were comparable.

      Fact: If we were talking about men hitting their wives, you wouldn’t have posted that massive paragraph of appeal to emotion. As far as judging is concerned, that’s already been covered here >

  • irish

    “A mom films two school teachers preparing to paddle her child as he begs her for help.”

    Just want to point out that she didn’t want this to happen, but the teachers threatened her son with suspension and her with jail time (for truancy) if she didn’t allow the paddling. She filmed it because she didn’t know what else to do and wanted proof that it had happened.

  • Julinda

    Excellent article. I haven’t seen those videos you mention, but I don’t need to see them to get your point. I’m with you, Kevin, I would not be filming and watching while adults hurt my child!

  • virginia

    the public posting of things that intentionally embarrass children are disturbing. this has got to be very damaging to the parent-child bond and it’s super disloyal to the family. do the husbands/fathers see the mothers/wives doing this crap to their children?

    also, the sentence that jumped out for me was,

    “Don’t be afraid to say you deserved better. And don’t be afraid to extend that recognition to your own children.”

    this was the turning point for me as a new parent. assessing and analyzing my childhood honestly, suffering massive soul pain for my child-self, then resolving to give my child the best parenting as possible.

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The Viral Popularity of Child Abuse

by Kevin Geary time to read: 5 min