I'm referring to 34-year old Tasha Henderson, whose daughter Coretha was performing poorly in class and was becoming a discipline problem. It was reported that the 14-year old was making Cs and Ds, was having trouble getting to school on time and was talking back to her teachers.
Tasha decided that her daughter's actions called for extreme action.
According to the Associated Press, Coretha's mother forced her to stand at a busy intersection in their hometown of Edmond, Okla., and hold up a sign that read: "I don't do my homework and I act up in school, so my parents are preparing me for my future. Will work for food." It was reported that Tasha stood next to her daughter the entire time she held the sign up.
The "punishment" has been met with mixed reviews. First of all, Coretha seems to have gotten the message. Her attendance has improved and she is behaving better.
However, there are some who think that the actions of the mother were too harsh. In the same article, it was reported that a passing motorist called police to report psychological abuse. Neither of the two was ticketed, but they were asked to leave the busy intersection. The police then forwarded the report to Oklahoma's Department of Human Services.
One person, Suzanne Ball, wrote a letter to The Oklahoman newspaper and said, "The parents of that girl need more education than she does if they can't see that the worst scenario in this case is to kill their daughter psychologically."
We were not told the occupation of Ball, so we don't know if she is carrying any expert credentials.
This guy is, though. Professor of child development Donald Wertlieb told the Associated Press that humiliating punishments can do extreme emotional damage. He said, "The trick is to catch them being good." Spoken like a guy without any kids.
What if they are never good? Is it really healthy to sit around and wait, watching bad incident after bad incident? Then when the kid finally makes up his bed or puts his dirty socks in the hamper, do you give him a cookie and a pat on the head?
I am hardly an expert on child rearing. However, I was a child once and I am lucky to have one of my own. I also spend a great deal of my day surrounded by teen-agers.
In my amateur studies on today's youth, I have discovered a few things. Kids are not made of glass. Their psyche and their egos are not that fragile. For the most part, they are like me. They get mad or embarrassed or frustrated, and they get over it. And hopefully learn from it.
All of this is beside the point. The one thing that I was pleased to see was a parent taking a pro-active step towards fixing a problem. At least Tasha did something, and bore part of the responsibility by sharing that corner with her daughter.
I stand in the group applauding her.
Tom Mark is sports editor of
The Tifton Gazette.
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