Is Making Child Hold a Sign Strict Parenting or Just Humiliating?

Second-grader made to advertise own misbehavior says he will do better.

ByABC News via logo
February 11, 2008, 7:39 AM

Feb. 11, 2008 — -- After her 8-year-old son acted up in class, a Jacksonville, Fla., mom employed a controversial punishment to teach him a lesson.

Marcia Harvey made her son Roland stand on the sidewalk for three hours with a sign telling the world how he misbehaved in his second-grade class.

The sign read, "I was rude to my teacher. I can't come to school. I am sorry." The other side read, "I will make good choices."

Harvey said today on "Good Morning America" that she didn't want to embarrass her son, but thought a different type of punishment might get the message across.

"It was a way of getting his attention and getting him back on track," Harvey said.

"I want him to be successful in life."

Many readers praised Harvey last week for taking a strong stand. One comment read: "It's refreshing to see parents discipline their children without fear of reprisal."

But the sight of teary-eyed Roland tugged the heart strings of others readers, some of whom said Harvey had taken the punishment too far.

Some experts agree, saying teaching by humiliation does not work.

"All it will do is produce more anger and resentment in the child," said psychologist Jill Hunziker.

Harvey is not the first parent to try this form of discipline.

Fed up by her 14-year old daughter's bad grades, one Oklahoma City mom forced the teen to stand at a busy intersection wearing a sign that promised she would try harder in school.

"I was embarrassed and I think it helped me a lot," said the daughter, Coretha Henderson. "It helped me realize that I can do better and I need to try harder."

Twelve-year-old Dustin Murphy was sent out with a sign after being kicked out of school for the seventh time.

Hunziker said while this form of punishment isn't necessarily the best, Harvey's heart was in the right place.

He may not do it again because he'll be humiliated or he'll get in trouble but it seems to me that the mother was concerned about him being a good student and she wants him to learn how to be a good person," Hunziker said.

As for Roland, who is an honor roll student, he says he has learned his lesson.

"I got to be good in school and do right," he said.