A Mum Forced Her Teen To Hold An ‘I Lied’ Sign In Public – Here’s Why That’s Wrong

We all make mistakes – but shaming our kids for doing something wrong is unforgivable.

A mum recently forced her teenage daughter to stand at a busy intersection in Florida, holding up a sign which read: “I lied. I humiliated my mother and me.”

The story went viral, and a video of the girl standing by the road gathered more than 21,000 views. Hundreds of comments ranged from the supportive – “Public shaming has been an effective form of disciplinary action for thousands of years” – to the condemnatory, with concerns for the girl’s safety. Someone even called the police.

One person posted the video on Facebook, captioning it with: “On our way home we witnessed parenting at its finest.” She said she thought the girl was “lucky”. “In my house, she would have gotten the belt,” she wrote. “Leave these parents alone – nothing wrong with what they are doing.”


The Facebook user wasn’t the only person to applaud the mother’s punishment for her daughter. Several people said it was “great”, with others praised her “good and tough parenting”. One person called the girl “fortunate”, while another said she’d taught her own daughter “from a very young age” that there were “punishments and consequences to bad decisions and actions”.

I found myself reading these missives with trepidation and unease. Those who were cheering at the public shaming of a teenage girl were doing so without any apparent knowledge of her “crime” – and we still don’t know what she did wrong.

When I watch the video of that girl (and let’s face it, there’s no time more painful than your teenage years) paying the price for her undisclosed misdemeanour, I ache for her. I ache for her embarrassment, for her humiliation, for the fear she must’ve felt at being found out, and for the trauma of knowing she’ll never be able to live this down – not when it’s being shared and retweeted on social media, discussed on TV and used as a prompt for “good” vs “bad” parenting.

Because when social media is involved, there are ripples and aftershocks – it’s not simply those driving by at the time who witnessed her holding up her mother’s sign, but thousands of people around the world.

Imagine the after-effects for this poor girl, going back to school, knowing that everyone – from people she knows, to complete strangers – is laughing at her. Things stick, when you’re a kid, and research shows bullied children are more likely to develop anxiety, depression and consider self-harm and suicide later in life.

It’s too easy to assume that as parents, we’re the ones in the right. But if we all make mistakes, then isn’t it possible – hear me out – that we make mistakes in how we choose to punish them, too?

Yes, it’s good to teach your kids about consequences and doing the right thing. Discipline is important. But, here’s an idea: isn’t it just as important to teach them about compassion?