06/19/2012 05:55 pm ET Updated Jun 20, 2012

Kenny Burks, 12, 'Homeless' For A Day After Forgetting To Call His Parents... For 30 Minutes

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Time-out, no TV, grounded. Parents today may take all the usual disciplinary actions when their kids don't follow the rules. But some moms and dads are also going to great lengths to punish kids in public ways.

The latest example is what 12-year-old Kenny Burks' father, Kevin, decided to do when his son checked in with him half an hour later than he was supposed to on a recent weekend evening: force Kenny to walk the streets holding a cardboard sign that read "Homeless, Won't Listen to Parents."

According to NBC4, the father and son were outside from about 9:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. Kevin watched Kenny walk and only let him take a break once every two hours.

As for why he chose a public punishment rather than a more traditional disciplinary action like taking away his son's video games, Kevin told NBC4, "By the time I finish taking all that stuff out of his room and put him on punishment for a week, it won't do any good."

The approach is harsh, but not unique to the Burks family. In the past few months alone, many parents have made headlines for forcing their kids to carry embarrassing signs. HuffPost senior columnist Lisa Belkin points out that the method is not new but appears to be "gaining traction." She writes, "In a moment when so much else in life is lived out loud and in public, it would follow, in a backwards and disjointed kind of way, that the method of discipline as old as 'The Scarlet Letter' would seem fitting in a modern age."

Many experts caution against the trend. Belkin quotes Alfie Kohn, author of "Unconditional Parenting: Moving From Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason," as one naysayer. "It's not just that humiliating people, of any age, is a nasty and disrespectful way of treating them; it's that humiliation, like other forms of punishment, is counterproductive," Kohn told Belkin in an interview.

Joseph Gonzalez, who made his 12-year-old son stand on a corner with an "I Am A Thief" sign, counters with the argument that "it's about being corrected," explaining that he hoped a public punishment would discourage his son from making a mistake again.

But Andy Grogan-Kaylor, an associate professor of social work at the University of Michigan, disagrees. He recently told MyHealthNewsDaily, "The research is pretty clear that it's never appropriate to shame a child, or to make a child feel degraded or diminished," adding: "Positive things have a much more powerful effect on shaping behavior than any punishment."

Tell us in the comments: Do you think public punishment is effective?

Below, six more signs children have worn as punishment:



Signs That Kids Have Worn As Punishments