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Teen takes her own life days after Dad posts public-shaming video

Rebecca Bracken is a news and views writer.

Teen's suicide bringing attention to dangers of public-shaming punishments for kids

The video shows a teenage girl with her hair hacked off, looking down.

The camera, being held by her dad, pans down to the floor of what looks like a garage to reveal her long, beautiful locks of hair on the floor. He cut it off as punishment for what he calls "getting messed up" in the video and shared it on YouTube to publicly shame her.

Just days later, on May 29, the girl in the video, 13-year-old Izabel Laxamana, got out of the passenger seat of her grandmother’s car and jumped off a freeway overpass. She died later at a Seattle hospital.

Now many are blaming the father's harsh punishment for the girl's death.

"The consequences of getting messed up, man, you lost all that beautiful hair," her father can be heard saying in the video. "Was it worth it?"

"No," the girl says quietly.

"How many times did I warn you?" he asks her.

"A lot," she replies.

The video, which was taken down from YouTube, presumably by her father, was recorded by one of Izabel's classmates. It's hard to watch and definitely seems harsh.

A blog called Tacoma Stories is leading the charge against Izabel's father, claiming the public-shaming video caused her suicide.

"Public shaming is a form of abuse," the blog's author, Jack Cameron, writes. "There are those who will say that it teaches a lesson. So does punching someone in the face. That doesn't make it okay to do to your children."

And while no one can say what led beautiful Izabel to take her own life, Facebook page Justice For Izabel is calling out parents who use public shaming as a form of punishment. Like this teacher who cut off a 7-year-old girl’s braid in class. Or this barber, whose specialty is giving kids an "old man" haircut so they look like they have a bald spot as punishment. And this awesome dad who is calling other parents who use shame to humiliate their kids. People are even sharing resources for parents and caregivers about the dangers of shaming kids.

No one will ever know for sure if public shaming caused Izabel to take her own life, but it's encouraging that her family's terrible loss might be used to help others find kinder, less humiliating ways to discipline their kids.

If you suspect someone might be considering suicide, or you have struggled with those thoughts yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

More on public shaming

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed: The book all about social media bullying
10-Year-old shamed by school for past due account, lunch thrown away
6-Year-old given humiliating public punishment for being 1 minute tardy

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