Could Publicly Shaming a Child Affect Your Custody Agreement?

Shaming children in public to teach them lessons could be viewed as emotional child abuse!


It may seem like a strange question to ask, but the answer is quite surprising, especially if you haven’t thought about it before. Because yes – publicly shaming a child could actually affect your custody agreement, and not in a good way! Not sure what we mean? Let’s take a look…


What is public shaming, and how is it used on children?


The idea of public shaming has been around for centuries. Remember the stocks, were people accused of crimes were tied up in the marketplace, when a jail wasn’t readily available? The public regularly threw rotten food or spit at people tied up in the stocks to shame them, which was encouraged as part of their punishment. And being tarred and feathered? A similar historical concept where humiliation was the primary goal as a punishment for alleged crimes.


In modern times, public shaming has taken a different turn, specifically when it comes to children. The most common methods used by parents today are forcing two fighting children to wear a ‘get-along shirt’ and then posting pictures of them on Facebook; and making a badly behaved child wear a sign proclaiming their “crime” on the side of the road for all to see. The point behind it? Shaming a child is usually done to teach them a lesson, or drive home a point about bad behavior.


Why is public shaming of children considered a bad thing?


While the public shaming of children isn’t as severe as it’s historical counterparts, it’s still considered to be child abuse by many people. Some parents will tell you that when all else fails, shame is a powerful motivator and their children’s bad choices sometimes leave them few other choices. However the majority of the mental health community will argue that it’s also very damaging to the psyche of a child, and can have disastrous long-term effects.


Behavioral experts say that when parents intentionally shame their children, it violates the child’s trust in them. It can also lead to anxiety and depression, cause post traumatic stress disorder, and in severe cases, may even lead to suicide. However, what does the law say about shaming a child? Is it illegal to use humiliation as a form of discipline in Michigan? Nope, it isn’t. And yet….


Why shaming your child could affect your custody battle!


Under Michigan law shaming a child isn’t illegal. However, while the Michigan penal code doesn’t specify that emotional abuse of a child is against the law,  the description of what child abuse could entail, does include references to “mental harm”. So if you and your spouse are involved in a highly contentious divorce, publicly shaming your children as a form of punishment may be exactly what your spouse needs to make you look like a bad parent!


If your spouse’s divorce attorney can present to the court evidence that you’ve publicly humiliated your children, or argue that your disciplinary methods are emotionally abusive, it could have a disastrous effect on your chances of custody. The judge might agree that you’re too harsh, or that you’re ‘morally unfit’ to care for your children. Which could translate into nothing more than occasional visitation instead of the joint custody deal you were hoping for!


Do you need help from a skilled Michigan child custody attorney?


Obviously, you have the right to parent your children as you see fit. However, you would like to caution you to be aware of how your actions might be perceived by a judge, if you’re getting divorced and it’s likely to be a fight.

Our skilled child custody lawyers have the experience and knowledge from hundreds of cases, to help you preserve your rights in raising your child in the way you believe is right. If your parenting time rights are being violated, or your spouse is trying to make you look bad in order to get a better custody deal, you need to contact our family law lawyers! Call us right away at 866 766 5245 to set up an initial free consultation. We are here to help.