Just about all of us at some point in time will have been on the end of a punishment from those people we call parents. For the younger of our viewers, that might have been having your iPad or phone taken away from you until your homework was finished; for others, punishments will likely have taken the form of less money coming your way, a short period of time you were not allowed to go and hang out with your buddies, or even a little smack to the behind when you were very young.
But not all moms and dads read the various ‘Good Parenting’ manuals that come out for every generation, and you could say some parents take punishments a bit too far. That’s exactly what we’ll look at today, in this episode of the Infographics Show, Worst Punishments Kids Received from Their Parents.
We’ll offer a disclaimer first and say that some punishments might have been common in the past, hence sayings such as, “Spare the rod and spoil the child”. This phrase relates to corporal punishment, like spanking, hitting with a rod, shoe, stick, or cane. This kind of thing seems outdated now, but some people still argue that it is needed. So, when we say worst, that’s subjective. According to Psychology Today, such punishments are still common throughout the world today. We will talk about more common punishments in this show, or perhaps punishments that could be conceived as common, rather than scour the media for instances in which sadistic parents did horrible things to their children. We’ll try and keep it light, and at the end you can decide what punishment was the worst.
10. Not sparing the rod
Domestic corporal punishment is largely frowned upon and has actually been outlawed in many countries, but many nations have not imposed a ban. It’s a punishment that is supposed to inflict pain on the child, such as spanking (sometimes known as smacking), or hitting the child with an object such as dad’s smelly size 12 slipper. In fact, looking at forums which had input from kids growing up in the mid to late 20th century, getting hit with a hand or an object wasn’t out of the ordinary. People wrote that their parents would not use their hands, but use a paddle, a cane, a shoe, or perhaps worse, a belt. We put this in the number 10 spot not because we don’t think it’s bad, but because in the past it was so normalized. Things have changed, though.
9. Washing the mouth out with soap and water
While it’s hard to believe that this was a thing, there are many recorded cases of it happening that have been discussed in studies. Usually the child will have spoken out of turn, perhaps cursed, even blasphemed, and the resultant punishment for such an infraction would be to literally wash the child’s mouth out with soap and water. Believe it or not, we found a website called MeanestMom.com where a woman talks about how this had proved successful in disciplining her son. In the comments section, other moms said vinegar works just as well. This was 2009, but reading such comments, one might think there was internet in 1909.
Now, you’ve all probably been grounded, but sometimes that could be more like imprisonment and you might wish you’d have been made to swallow some soapy water. We found online that some parents have used a punishment called long-term grounding, or what sounds more like house arrest. One person on Reddit said he spent much of his teenage years grounded. On another blog, we found a kid who had been grounded for 8 months. There is a saying “Grounded for Life”, but such a punishment would no doubt be very abnormal. Nonetheless, some parents believe that by keeping their kids close, they are protecting them. Most psychologists believe the opposite, and that such mollycoddling will make the child weaker and unable in later life to deal with social problems.
7. Shooting up your stuff
As you know, parents often take your things away from you as punishment, which is a kind of deprivation. Some parents have taken this a step further. One such person appeared in American news media in 2012 after he shot up his 15-year old’s laptop and posted the video on YouTube. He later got a visit from child protection services. We might also add that even though the video went viral, some people said it was fake and the dad was just trying to get some publicity. All we can say is taking a gun to your kids’ digital devices, if real, is kinda harsh.
6. The end of privacy as you know it
Looking around the web, there are forums with parents asking if it is ok for them to remove their teenager’s bedroom door? Some parents ask if it’s even legal, as teens might have a legal right to their privacy. One person said on one forum, “Their right to privacy does not supercede my need to make sure they’re not engaging in activities that could be detrimental to their future.” Others called it cruel. What we found is that plenty of parents do it, in spite of the time it must take. On one forum a person wrote that if you stop them from doing something in their bedroom, they will more than likely just do it somewhere else. Perhaps it’s best to talk to kids about the ‘thing.’
5. Public humiliation
In 2012, the Huffington Post published a blog post in which one writer said public humiliation of kids is a new trend, at least in the USA. She cited an instance in which parents in Illinois made their 8-year old daughter stand outside school wrapped in a sandwich board that read, “I like to steal from others and lie about it!!” Another kid in Miami had to stand outside his school holding a sign that said, “I was sent to school to get an education.
Not to be a bully.” And yet another kid in Denver had to stand on a public street holding a sign that read, “I am a thief. I took money from a family member.” Since it became quite common, some people have called it barbaric and abusive. Perhaps one of the most brutal of public humiliations was the parent that shaved her 12-year old daughter’s head and made her run up and down the street in a diaper. The parents did this in 2012 because the girl had gotten bad grades. The mother and her boyfriend were later charged with a gross misdemeanor.
4. Viral shaming
This is quite similar to public humiliation, but it goes a step further in that you won’t just be shamed for a day, but people can enjoy laughing at you for many years after the actual event. Time magazine wrote about public shaming via the internet in 2015, stating parents chastise and embarrass their kids with the intent to post the video on YouTube. Sometimes kids holding up signs similar to what we talked about were later posted online by the parents.
One video shows a teen holding a sign saying, “I’m a liar and thief. When I grow up I want to go to prison. I am on the road to failure! I’m a self-entitled teenager.” Time interviewed a psychologist who not surprisingly was very much against such shaming, saying, “The Internet is forever. These videos could have an effect on a child’s whole life, maybe cost them a job someday.” His advice: Parents, wise up and leave those kids alone.
3. Hacking your child
In 2010, a news report emerged in which a 16-year old boy was suing his mom for hacking his email and social media accounts and then saying things that upset him. The mother said this was just punishment because her son had said some things on social media that she didn’t like. In 2012 another mum in Ohio hacked her daughter’s Facebook page, leaving a post stating: “I do not know how to keep my mouth shut. I am no longer allowed on Facebook or my phone. Please ask why, my mom says I have to answer everyone that asks.” There’s an ongoing debate about how ethical this child-hacking is. At what age should the kids have total control over their accounts?
2. Tying your kids up
Some parents have been so lost regarding how to keep their kids out of trouble that they have resorted to not allowing the children to go anywhere. As we said at the start, we don’t want to focus too much on the criminal and abusive aspects of punishment, but these stories made the news of late as over the top kinds of punishments. One was a kid in China, who is seen with a steel chain around his neck in his bedroom.
The Chinese dad told the press in 2014 that his son just kept stealing from neighbors, and because it was a small community the son would get caught. The dad would then have to return the goods or if they were gone he’d have to pay. “I can’t keep paying compensation all the time because I just can’t afford it and eventually someone was going to call the police and he would have been locked up,” said the dad. Another case was in Malaysia in 2016, when a mother tied her 11-year old daughter to a lamppost with a steel chain because the girl had been skipping school. “There is such a thing as tough love, but this is taking it too far,” said one person who had seen the stricken girl.
1. Taking the poop to school
In 2002, the LA Times wrote that two parents were facing charges for abusing their child, a young teen that had been an example of very tough love. One day his parents had forced him to take dog feces to school with him in his school bag because he had failed to clean up the yard. The mother was charged with misdemeanor child abuse and the father was acquitted. The case was well-known at the time. The 16-year old had indeed been a problem child, but people couldn’t decide if such a punishment should be a crime. “Concussions are clear and diagnosable. Emotional abuse may not be,” said one expert at the time.
So, what do you think is too much, or not enough, regarding punishment? Are any of the punishments we mentioned today ok with you? What about your own experience with punishment at home? Let us know in the comments. Also, be sure to check out our other video called What Makes Popular Kids Popular?! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!