It isn’t the seven-kilometre walk, or even the cardboard sign that read, in all capital letters: “Being bad and rude to our bus driver! Moms makin us walk.”
For the local Children’s Aid Society, the issue is a Harrow, Ont., mom’s decision to post photos of her punishing her two elementary-aged sons to social media.
In a Facebook post published Tuesday, the mother wrote she took action after getting a call from her sons’ school about their poor behaviour.
“That drew the line for me! This morning we did a 7 km walk to show them what everyday will be like for them when they get kicked off the bus!” she wrote.
“2 hours later they made it!” To protect the identities of the children, CBC News is not naming the mother.
The post had been shared more than 38,000 times by 5:30 p.m. ET on Thursday. It received more than 28,000 “likes” and other reactions and dozens of comments, most of which seem to celebrate the actions of a “real parent.”
“You re fricken rockin the mom hat girl good job,” wrote one commenter.
“Awesom job mom!!” added another. “This is how you raise children.”
The mother told CBC the older boy learned his lesson quickly, but said her younger son needed to walk a second day. She did not post that punishment to social media.
She said she received some backlash and threats after posting the pictures, so she made a preemptive call to the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) herself to explain her side of the story.
Logical punishments work, shaming does not
Tina Gatt, manager of community outreach for the Windsor-Essex CAS office, would neither confirm that call nor address whether the incident merits an investigation.
Gatt did say having kids walk to school to show them the “logical consequence” of misbehaving on the bus can be a reasonable punishment — as long as there are no safety threats, and there appear to have been no threats in this case.
The mother accompanied the boys on the walk and, in the photos, are seen alongside what looks like a quiet, rural road. Harrow is a community of less than 3,000 people, about 30 kilometres southeast of Windsor.
But “shaming” them on social media is not constructive, Gatt said.
“I don’t want to judge or pretend to know all of the nuances of this situation with this parent, but [it’s] something to consider when we think about putting signs on kids that says what the bad behaviour is and putting them in a position where you take their picture and put it on social media,” she explained.
“We would be concerned, and not just Children’s Aid, we should be concerned as adults, about shaming children.”
Gatt said shaming rarely works with adults and “simply is not going to motivate children to be better.”
She added it’s possible the mother was looking for reinforcement from her fellow parents that the punishment was just.
“For this parent, perhaps it was to get some acknowledgement from her peer group to say ‘Is this right?'” Gatt said. “But just to be shaming children is not motivating for good behaviour.”