When we hear about bullying, we usually hear about teens bullying other teens due to many social factors. All of it is inexcusable and there has been great improvements in schools and on social media to spread awareness about the devastating effects of bullying on the mental and physical health of young people. I was subject to bullying, like most people, from time to time in school and I am pleased to see parents and schools taking up concern. The community awareness is different from how it was when I was a teen.
At the same time, there is a terrible practice that has become popular on social medial involving parents shaming their kids. The goal is that through shame or humiliation, the parent will prevent the child from recommitting whatever offense led to the humiliating video the parent made. Even though we know that shaming has long term negative mental health effects on people, the popularity of these videos have grown.
But these videos are bullying. And kids are dying as a result. According to Inquisitr.com’s article, Izabel Laxama Suicide: Girl, 13 Jumps Off Bridge After Father Cuts Off Her Hair For Public Shaming Video, another young person has taken their life due to bullying. This time the bullying was at the hands of her abusive father.
In addition to cutting off Izabel’s hair, her father cut up her undergarments and clothes. Those of us who are familiar with domestic violence cases know that these are the types of abuse that occur in domestic violence situations. Izabel’s personal property was destroyed, her undergarments representing the most intimate possession she owns. Cutting off her hair was a physical violation, an attack on this young woman’s right to bodily integrity. The symbolism of these acts were misogynist. The conduct is horrific. Other past abuses are rightly suspected.
The result was that Izabel ran out of her grandmother’s car and plunged to her death off a bridge “without hesitation.”
This may be an extreme example of shaming. But we as parents don’t need to shame to have “good” children. Our children are already good. They need guidance and love when they struggle to find a healthy, successful path. Shaming children is not harmless. The voice that we hear in our heads telling us who we are and what we are worth are the voices of those who raised us and either loved and led us or scolded and shamed us.
“The way we talk to children becomes their inner voice.” -Peggy O’Mara
May she rest in peace.