Moms Tries to Embarrass Her Son to Better Grades as the World Watches
You make your child stand on a public street corner holding a sign telling passersby that his grades stink.
Will this help him get better grades? Or is this an abusive, embarrassing, humiliating and degrading experience that will haunt for him for the rest of his life?
These are the questions journalists are asking as they spread the story of 15-year-old James Mond III of Tampa, Fla., across the globe. Hopefully, he will just hit the books a little harder next semester, because he found this whole incident embarrassing before ... whoa Nellie!
Here come the media.
The story started in the St. Petersburg Times in Florida and has been picked up by everyone from the New York Daily News to the London Daily Mail and United Press International, as well as the folks at Fox. Can Bill O'Reilly be far behind?
And yeah, ParentDish has it, too.
The St. Petersburg Times reports it all started Feb. 16 because Ronda Holder was frustrated that her son just didn't seem to take his education seriously. She tells the paper she was afraid he would wind up on the streets.
"I don't want any of my kids to stand by the side of the road asking for change," she says. She apparently would sooner see them standing by the side of the road announcing that their grades suck.
So she made Mond a sign that read, "I did 4 questions on my FCAT [Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test] and said I wasn't going to do it ... GPA 1.22 ... honk if I need education," and made him hold it at the corner of E. Hillsborough Avenue and N. 22nd Street.
Can you imagine being a teenager forced to hold such a sign? How embarrassing, how humiliating, how ... irresistible. Quick! Get a camera crew!
By Thursday afternoon, the Times reports, the incident took on a life of its own. TV crews were on Mond's punishment like Jerry Springer on a cheating boyfriend, and representatives from the Florida Department of Children and Families wanted his mother to answer a lot more than four questions.
Department spokesman Terry Field tells the Times that the punishment might legally be considered an illegal form of maltreatment.
After all, as numerous news agencies are reporting, being made a public spectacle could be emotionally scarring.
Cue the experts.
"It definitely would fall within the category of emotional abuse. It's shame, embarrassment and humiliation. This will be a lifelong memory for him," Arlinda Amos, a licensed clinical psychologist and ombudsman for the Hillsborough Children's Board in Florida, tells the Times.
"It's such an unfortunate strategy, and of course, it's ineffective," Dr. Peter Gorski, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician at the Hillsborough Children's Board and the University of South Florida, tells the Times. "The key to motivating children is to balance responsibility with support, and balance is the important part."
As for Mond, he tells the Times he understands what his mother is trying to do. "She was trying to teach me a lesson," he tells the paper. "I should have been working harder than I was in school."
Nonetheless, he adds, he hasn't enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame. "I felt crazy," he tells the paper. "It's embarrassing."
Holder tells the paper she's angry at whoever it was among the multitude of television viewers, newspaper readers, pedestrians or passing motorists who ratted her out to state authorities.
This is not child abuse, she tells the Times.
"You can't resort to spanking," she adds. "I want my child to have an education and have his children be able to look at him and say I can get an education, too. This is one child who won't be lost to the streets."
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.