What a Shame--And It's About Time
Shame. Embarrassment. Humiliation.
The hat trick of negative emotions was all experienced last week by the 14-year-old teen forced by his mother to stand in front of their home wearing a sign proclaiming, “I lie, I steal, I sell drug(s), I don’t follow the law.”
At least I hope that’s what he was feeling.
Indiana mother Dynesha Lax resorted to the unusual punishment after several frustrating encounters with the local court system, when her son received minor slaps on the wrist for multiple offenses.
With her son showing little remorse or inclination to change his ways, Ms. Lax took matters into her own hands. Noting that her son might have been trying to impress other teens with his behavior, the mother said, “You’re looking for attention, we’re going to get you attention.”
Several passers-by objected to Lax’s methodology, calling police to complain about the punishment.
I think the woman deserves a medal.
When I was a kid, I frequently heard my grandmother exclaiming that someone “should be ashamed” of him or herself for some offensive behavior. If it was a direct admonition, usually pointed at one of my cousins, the offender hung his head, shuffling his feet until he was dismissed with a disgusted “You better behave yourself or I’m gonna biff you!” I won’t say that recipient of the scolding never committed another offense, but I believe my grandmother’s watchful eye and liberal use of shaming kept more than one family member from a permanent perch on the wrong side of the law.
Likewise, my parents made sure that we knew what acceptable behavior was and if we crossed the line, the shame, whether administered by them or self-inflicted, was immediate. (I was once so ashamed of myself for sneaking a look at another kid’s test paper that I deliberately wrote down the wrong answer on my own. True story.)Continued on the next page