My grandma used to say, “You get what you give.” That phrase seems to have rung true for a Florida mom who ended up in jail on child abuse charges after sending her daughter to West Hernando Middle School in a homemade T-shirt designed to humiliate and shame.
Melany Alexander of Brooksville, Florida, was reportedly upset with her daughter’s bad grades. She felt her child was making poor choices, focusing more on her friends than on her studies. So, to encourage better decisions, Alexander charted a winning, two-pronged parenting course: First, she allegedly beat her daughter with a metal-and-leather belt. Then she sent her to school in a humiliating T-shirt advertising her faults.
Alexander took a white T-shirt and, using black marker, wrote the following on the front and back:
“My name is ______. I currently have all F’s in all of my classes. I am not aloud to have a boyfriend no time soon. So back off before I get another good woopin like I got last night. Also I can no longer have any friends until all of my F’s are all brought up to C’s and up!!! So unless you are helping me with this goal…back off!!! My eating French fries and being a social butterfly is over because I know why my parents send me to school. I now know the importance of my education. I will learn. I will listen to my teachers and be respectful, at all times. I will do these things because I am failing _____ due to my social life. Want to be my friend 🙂 Help me by not!!!”
Image: My Fox Tampa Bay
The shirt did what Alexander intended — it caught people’s attention. Unfortunately for her, the attention was that of the school administrators, who not only noticed the shirt but the bruises and marks all over the child’s neck, arms, legs and back. School officials called law enforcement, who interviewed the child and then the mom. Alexander admitted to hitting her daughter because she was failing school, and was immediately arrested.
This entire story is wrought with irony. We have a mom who wants her daughter to be “respectful, at all times” and decides to teach her respect with beatings and bullying.
This trend of publicly shaming kids as a parenting method has to stop. It’s narcissistic, cruel and bullying at its worst. Our kids look to us for guidance and comfort, and when we use humiliation as a punishment tactic, we teach them that shaming is to be expected and is OK. Respect isn’t learned by fear; it is earned through actions — by both children and parents.
Alexander wanted to teach her daughter a lesson. She actually taught her child two: Her school won’t tolerate bullying — even by parents — and if you break the law by beating someone, you’re going to go to jail.