Jeannie Crutchfield, a mom from Casper, Wy. just upped the ante on the emerging practice of kid shaming when she dogged her daughter with a video camera on school grounds to publicly humiliate the girl for ditching classes.
Ms. Crutchfield didn’t simply follow and film her daughter, Ricki, 14, from class to class, but loudly scolded the teenager in a way that some parents, including me, found cringe-worthy.
"This is what happens when Ricki can’t act right. Her mom has to come to the school to record her to get it through her head,” Crutchfield begins the video.
As she follows in her daughter’s steps, Crutchfield adds, “We’re going to hold hands and we’re going to go to class together. Isn’t that great? Yeah! We’re going to class together,” the mom rants in a sing-song taunt. “Now let’s see how cute you think is sit with mom during class."
Listening to this mom rail at her daughter reminds me of the way some young children often begin a roll-on-the-grass fight by shouting, “Oh yeah? Well, see how you like it when I do this!”
Crutchfield then posted the video walk of shame on Facebook. Some 30,000 views and 800 thumbs up later the video is now getting national news attention.
I wanted to know how widely accepted this kind of extreme teen shaming has become, so I sent the video to two dozen parents via Facebook message and found an even 50-50 split between some parents thinking this was the right punishment and others thinking it was too much.
“This seems like a perfect example of traditional parenting (not being your kid's friend, but being a parent and providing oversight and discipline to make sure your kid stays in line),” wrote one mom Christina Schweiss.
“It's over the top and super embarrassing for the kid. Not cool at all. There are other ways to teach children lessons,” responded another mom Michelle Odom.
It was clear from Crutchfield’s video that this mom was at her wit’s end and furious over finding out that her teen had skipped school and lied about it.
That’s what makes me wonder how much of this and other incidences of public shaming come from a place of possible revenge rather than parenting.
"It was kind of just spur of moment. It was ya know. I debated on whether I was going to do it or not and I was like I'm just going to do it," Crutchfield admitted when speaking to local ABC news Wyoming affiliate KTWO.
While making the video in a public school in front of the girl’s peers may have been “spur of the moment,” posting it on Facebook seems a bit more like a vengeful follow up.
Yet, the case can be made that this parent knew her daughter well enough to find a tactic that worked on her, since KTWO interviewed them both afterwards and the daughter was positive about the experience.
"It just goes to show that my mom cares. My friend Ruby, she's in WCC and she said she wished her mom would have done that for her," Ricki said.
I wonder which was the more lasting lesson Ricki learned: that ditching class and lying are bad for your future and your character, or how to exact revenge.
It made me think about how tech-savvy kids are and how easily the tables can be turned. If not careful, could parents find themselves in the candid camera video spotlight of vengeful teens?
In that case, I might expect a whole series of, “My mom punished me for cutting class, but here’s what I her caught doing …”
I too have experience Crutchfield’s frustration, most recently when I learned three weeks ago that my son, now 19 and in college, was a class cutter while in high school.
My son’s high school teachers never mentioned class cutting, but rather assignments not turned in as being the culprit.
He got his diploma. Because he does well on standardized tests he made it into college, but bad grades kept him from getting scholarships.
This was a rough parenting moment for me because I was disappointed and angry at both my son and in myself for failing to catch his truancy.
All I wanted to do was shout at him. But I didn’t.
I considered the fact that he has since seen the error of his ways and become a straight-A student in college. He is suffering mightily to pay for his schooling, working every hour he’s not in a classroom.
After a few days of cooling-off I told him what I’d learned and how disappointed I was. He didn’t make any excuses. He sat surrounded by textbooks on Japanese, physics, and chemistry, looked up at me pleadingly and said, “I can’t go back and change it now. I’m sorry I hurt you though. As you can see, I’ve learned my lesson.”
While I wish I’d been the one to teach him, it was life and experience that drove the punishment and lesson home.
Extreme child shaming may have worked in Crutchfield’s case, but before parents enter into the realm of teen-shaming, they might first want to consider what is won and lost in the process.
Earning respect from kids might mean parents having to stay above the fray in order to be a voice of reason when teens test their limits.