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Monica Lindstrom

Is it discipline or cyberbullying?

I give credit to parents who can create new and effective, non-physical, ways of disciplining their children. Being a parent is a hard job and disciplining is one of the toughest things a parent faces, often on a daily basis. A parent's job is to raise a responsible member of society, which includes feeding, caring, educating and disciplining their children. There is no rule book on how to be a parent, however, there is no shortage of those who judge other parents.

A controversial new way of disciplining children has recently come to light and has brought with it waves of both support and condemnation. It may not be a new technique, but it's innovative because it is using technology and social media. One mother discovered her daughter was cyberbullying another so she decided to post a picture, on Facebook of course, of her daughter holding a sign admitting to the behavior. The sign said she will be selling her iPod and donating the money to the charity Beat Bullying. This technique definitely meets the definition of "giving her a taste of her own medicine" and therein lies the controversy.

Some are speaking out and condemning the mother for essentially doing to her daughter what she did to someone else. "Two wrongs don't make a right" is the cliche that comes to mind. This begs the question, is it appropriate to discipline her by cyberbullying her? Others are applauding this mother and encouraging her actions. I have heard the argument that our country is getting soft, at least when it comes to discipline, and we need to be tougher with the discipline to prepare children for the real world. This could be an example of that. Regardless of where you fall on the continuum, you cannot deny this form of discipline is thought provoking and emotional.

I have two young boys and often have to deal with disciplining them, which is no easy task. We're all experts and idealists before we have children. Then the children come and reality sets in. Disciplining children is not easy and is not enjoyable. It breaks my heart at times, yet we can all agree that it is necessary. With that being said, no one way of discipline is the correct way (I am not addressing child abuse here, that is obviously morally and legally wrong).

I suggest we take a step down from our soap boxes and take a breath. I do not know this mother or daughter and chances are you do not either. The approach this mother took might not be appropriate for your children and family and you might be very bothered by it; however, this mother felt it was appropriate for her family. I think all would agree she made a definite impression on her daughter, a life lesson so to speak. If it works and stops her daughter from bullying people then her chosen form of discipline worked and was appropriate. If her daughter ends up having years of therapy because of it, maybe it was not.

Here is the question, are people bothered by it because it was on the internet (and the digital footprint never goes away) or because it seems too "mean?" Mean is subjective. I would indeed caution parents from following in this mother's footsteps for the simple reason that what goes on the internet stays on the internet. The digital footprint I mention above is not temporary. The take away is this, do what is appropriate for YOUR family, keeping in mind the longstanding effects that could result.

About the Author


Monica is a legal commentator and practicing attorney with her own successful practice. She currently co-hosts The Agenda on KTAR with Joe Huizenga and is a regular guest on Mac and Gaydos. She has provided legal analysis on several national networks including HLN (shows including News Now, Happening Now In America, HLN After Dark, Evening Express, Raising America, Nancy Grace, Jane Velez-Mitchell, Dr. Drew), ABC's Good Morning America, Fox's The O'Reilly Factor, Neil Cavuto's Real World, Studio B with Shep Smith, and CNN's Headline News.

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