This morning I got up very early to appear on the Pix11 Morning News to talk about a video that went viral of a mom berating her daughter for saying that she was 19 years old on Facebook (she’s actually 13), and posting pictures of herself in her underwear. As I’m writing this the video has been watched more than thirteen million times.
Before you form an opinion about shaming a child publicly on Facebook, watch the video – the entire video. It’s really hard to watch. But until you see for yourself just how long the shaming goes on, and just how specific and humiliating it gets, you might not understand why I am 100% against what this woman did.
This is emotional abuse. Making the child state her full name for the camera and then say things like “I still watch Disney Channel and I don’t know how to wipe my butt good” is not a mom trying to discipline her child, it’s a mom torturing her child emotionally with the purpose of making the torture public.
Let me repeat that: This was not video captured by a bystander and released without the mom’s knowledge. The mom uploaded the video to her own Facebook page, with the privacy set to “public.”
I feel for this mom, I really do. According to an interview I saw with her on TV, she had previously taken away her daughter’s cell phone and iPad. She doesn’t say how the girl was getting online after that, but if it were me, that would have been my first focus: Getting this troubled girl offline, not drawing more negative attention to her online. She’s online seeking the attention of men, men who think that she’s nineteen. She needs help, not public humiliation.
Here’s the segment that I did this morning, along with child psychologist Dr. Joe Taravella (he also provided the picture at the top of the post – thanks Dr. Joe!). If I could add one more thing to what I said on the air, I would say that both the daughter and the mom need professional help. This girl needs to figure out why she’s seeking that kind of attention online, and the mom needs to learn better ways to handle her daughter. But I really hope that from this point forward, it’s all done in private.