Wednesday, April 16, 2008
This was a pretty big story in Utah yesterday. I thought it was awesome.
Mother's Public Punishment of Child Sparks Debate
April 14th, 2008 @ 10:00pm
Lori Prichard reporting
If you had a 10-year-old son who had been caught stealing at seven different stores, what would you do? A Park City mother faced that situation. The way she decided to punish her child sparked heated debate.
Not everyone agreed with the mother's tactics. In fact, some passers-by were so upset they got the Park City Police, the Summit County Sheriff and the Division of Child and Family Services involved. But was the mom right? Decide for yourself.
For about three hours last Thursday on a Park City street, a woman made her fifth-grade son stand on the sidewalk with a sign that said: "I am a thief. I will steal from you. Caution!" And just in case the passer-by may not have spoken English, the same words were written in Spanish.
Nancy Sutton saw the 10-year-old holding the sign around his neck. "He looked upset," she said. "I thought, oh that poor boy. What's going on?"
In small letters printed on the bottom of the sign, you could read what was going on. It said, "I've been caught at Wal-Mart, Linens & Things, Rite Aid, Albertsons, 7-Eleven, Smith's, Nike, KB Toys and the cops won't do anything about it."
That's true. Police told us he's too young to take to jail. But Sutton, who is also a therapist, says he's also too young to be humiliated in public. "As therapists, we consider that emotionally abusive, which I'm sure the parents didn't realize," she said.
Child psychologist Dr. Doug Goldsmith, with The Children's Center, says humiliation isn't really that effective. "Even when we've seen in the news major political figures who've been humiliated, people see that. But the next week, people have seemed to have forgotten about it and I can go back to business as usual. The humiliation idea is not effective in most circles of life," he said.
Nancy says it wasn't effective in this case. By the end of the day, the boy and his sign had drawn a circle of sympathizers. "I think everybody realized this is not OK," she said. "It's not OK to sit a child out there and humiliate him in public. And apparently I heard somebody drove by and gave him money."
Everyone can agree the boy's mom is obviously at her wits end. Police tell us that the boy's been in counseling, but his mother is just fed up with him stealing. They also tell us she was nearby the whole time, and he wasn't really in danger. DCFS agreed with that assessment.
We couldn't contact the mother to get her side of the story because police aren't releasing her name
I'm with the mom. Best to employ every means possible to stop this kid from going to prison someday. What do you think?