When Miley Cyrus starting twerking onstage at this year's Video Music Awards, she became the controversial topic of morning talk shows for days. An 11-year-old Californian faced a different sort of ridicule, however, after her mom forced her to hold a sign in public after the girl twerked at a school dance.
Turning a scornful eye on a dance trend she disapproves of, Bakersfield mother Frances Hena said her daughter Jamie's punishment fit her crime.
“I want her to realize that she is just a child and that she can’t do that,” Francis Hena told ABC affiliate KERO.
On Monday, Jamie spent two hours at a busy intersection under the watchful eye of her mom, holding a handwritten sign with this message: “I was disrespecting my parents by twerking at a school dance.”
Hena is following in the footsteps of a long line of parents who have chosen the public shame route for childish transgressions ranging from sneaking out of the house to being disrespectful. But experts say shaming is probably not an effective discipline tool.
In an April 2012 column on the tactic, HuffPost senior columnist Lisa Belkin spoke with Alfie Kohn, author of Unconditional Parenting: Moving From Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason.
"It's not just that humiliating people, of any age, is a nasty and disrespectful way of treating them," Kohn said at the time. "It's that humiliation, like other forms of punishment, is counterproductive."
TIME reached out to its own expert regarding Frances Hena's parenting. Dr. Claudia Gold, of the early childhood social and emotional health program at Newton Wellesley hospital in Massachusetts, said this type of punishment could very well backfire.
“Unequivocally, it’s a bad thing to do and certainly has negative long term consequences,” Gold told TIME. “The mother was probably terrified that something was going to happen to her child because she was doing this sexualized [dance]. ... But then she unwittingly goes and does exactly the kind of thing that will cause [more of] that kind of behavior.”
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