Welcome back and thanks for joining us again for this discussion about how social media affects our parenting choices. If you’re only finding this series now, we recommend that you spend a few minutes getting caught up here, and then we’ll pick up where we left off last time on the issue of spanking, with a look at one last major discipline-related issue affected by social media – public shaming as a form of discipline.
How we discipline our kids is affected by social media
Public shaming as a method of discipline has been a somewhat controversial subject in recent years, and there’s no better platform for hashing out controversial subjects than social media. (Yeah, right!) So when a parent makes their young son stand on the side of the road with a sign that says “I hit girls!” or something similar, it causes a firestorm online. People weigh in on both sides of the argument, and it usually becomes a battle – with some parents decrying the emotional abuse it causes, and others claiming it’s a perfectly acceptable way to teach a hard lesson.
But which is it? 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 while it isn’t against the law to punish a child using humiliation, please know that most mental health experts would label it a form of emotional or psychological abuse. And in more extreme or highly publicized cases, CPS may choose to investigate.
Once CPS gets involved, the whole situation gets out of hand
If a parent or caregiver treats a child in a way that causes lasting emotional or psychological damage to them, even if they are never physically harmed, that person may be charged with child abuse. The prosecutor will have to prove the cause and effect relationship between the parent’s abuse and the child’s psychological or emotional damage in order for the charges to stick. However, this is surprisingly easy to do, as CPS can hire psychologists or child counselors who will attest to the damage in court.
In fact, most behavioral experts agree 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, can even lead to suicide (although this is more common in teens.). As you can imagine, being investigated for possible child abuse, whether it’s CPS or the police, can affect your custody agreement. Your spouse can petition the court to have sole custody on the grounds that you aren’t a safe parent, and the court might agree!
Don’t let social media affect how you parent your kids!
If you want to know that you’re making a good parenting decision, and you want the convenience of the web, we recommend that you don’t use social media. Spend a little time doing your research. Go to reputable websites on parenting, and read articles by doctors, mental health specialists, and other parenting experts. Make your choices based on good research and sound information, not on memes, personal posts and Facebook debates.
Here at the Kronzek Firm, we’re parents and we understand the challenges you face every day, trying to make the right decisions for your kids. No two kids are the same, so there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for whatever parenting challenge you’re facing right now. But if someone falsely accuses you of being abusive to your child, or your ex wants to alter your custody agreement because they believe you’re a bad parent, come and talk to our skilled family law attorneys. We’re available 24/7 at 866 766 5245, and can help you with whatever legal concerns you’re up against.