Online Dish: Mother Makes Young Son Wear 'I'm a Thief' Sign

Crime, Law and JusticeCrimeTheftSocial IssuesJustice SystemArts and Culture

An Australian mother has sparked international uproar over the punishment she gave her 10-year-old son for stealing. She made her lil thief stand in a busy park in Queensland wearing a sign saying, "Do not trust me. I will steal from you as I am a thief".

He stayed standing, head down, while his family ate lunch nearby. But his public humiliation didn't end there. According to the Daily Mail, he was made to wear Shrek ears and was also seen writing lines, believed to say repeatedly that he would not steal.

While his family believes the punishment fit the crime, parents who saw the boy wearing the sign were appalled.

One woman told the Daily Mail, that she was so 'horrified' that she contacted the local child safety services.

The punishment was also condemned by child psychologist Nicole Pierotti, herself a mother, who said she was shocked that this treatment was used.

"Humiliation is not the best way to punish the child," she said, "This gives the child the message that they should be sneakier. He's learning, 'don't get caught'. It also makes you wonder what else goes on in the family. Parents are supposed to be the people a child can trust."

The boy's mother, who confessed to having a criminal past when she was young, told the Herald Sun, she wanted to ensure he didn't follow in her footsteps.

"I have lived a life that most people would not dream of and I am trying to stop my child from going down the same road as I did, because even though I have sorted myself out, it took me 10 years to do," said the single mother of three children.

The mother said she had tried everything to stop her son shoplifting and stealing; visits to courthouses, chats with police, visits to police cells and even a trip to a youth detention center.

She told the Herald Sun, finding a stash of chocolates in her son's drawer that he stole from the store, was the last straw.

"I have put him into courses, I have had counseling done, I have done everything I can," she said. I think he has learned his lesson. I think that hour (in the park) is enough for him to go: 'I don't ever want to do this again'.

"I did the same thing as my son, shoplifting as a teenager, and then it escalated because I didn't have a mum there to teach me right from wrong."

The woman said her son had been stealing since he was seven.

So what do you think about the mother's punishment?

Our viewers served up their thoughts on Facebook:

Billy: "Haha, I think that's great honestly. If you don't want to be humiliated, don't be a thief!"

Roger: "It's creative parenting. I'm guessing he won't do it again. Shrek ears may be too much."

Kaylyn: "i completely agree with what the parents did! great way to teach him not to do it again! there is a judge in my local area that made a guy walk around a car lot holding a sign that said "i like to steal cars" while he was walking a pig (because he called the police "pigs")"

Shneia: "Wow! That should be really great for his self esteem, and I'm sure his anger from being humiliated will make him want to get back at them. I don't think it's bad parenting, but it is in poor taste."

Kim: "Good for her!"

Gardner: "Judge Ted Poe did that for years. Awesome"

Jennie: "I don't know. Seems excessive. When my oldest took a candy bar at age 4 or 5 I marched her back in and asked for a manager and made her return it and apologize. That seemed like enough humiliation, it never happened again!"

Douglas: "Great... But I would have beat the crap out of him and them made him stand out there, bruises and all"

Andrea: "This mom did good. Better than the mom who forced hot sauce down her son's throat then gave him a freezing shower. My mom used to make us kids kneel in our front yard with our arms stretched out so that neighbors knew we did something bad. This was back in Vietnam. Humiliation works better than physical torture."

Sholann emails: "I say Kudos to the mom who made her theiving son wear the sign. I agree that we should applauding the effort instead of judging. Some situations and some children require desperate measures. Period."

Get in on the dish. Send me your tweets: twitter.com/maggiesworld or emails: maggie@39online.com or comment on the Online Dish Facebook fan page.

And that's today's helping of Online Dish.

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