Oftentimes out of frustration, I have posted stories on Facebook with one of my two favorite captions: “Whose relatives are these?” is for stories of stupid criminal behaviors where the fools were caught and didn’t get away with their embarrassingly stupid crimes. “How I wish we still had public flogging” is for cases where a good butt-beating is the most sensible solution for the reported behavior. 

In a similar vein, there are people who have decided “public shaming” is the best method of highlighting inappropriate behavior(s) out of their family members. 

First there was the father who posted a picture of his daughter wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with, “I am 10 years old” on the front and “5th grader” on the back in response to her secret social media accounts where she was pretending to be a teenager and was supposedly in love with a boy. The photos went viral and got over a half-million hits and “likes,” testament to the positive results that can be attained via social media. Yes his daughter was embarrassed publicly. She had a lesson taught that will probably follow her for the rest of her life — hopefully without malice. 

Then there was the video of the young man who was alleged to have stolen from his family. As a female beats at him, with two bigger males in the picture to help out, the young man is cursed out. If the young man demonstrates ignorant behavior, trust me, he learned his behavior from the ignorant family members in the video.

What about the young boy who was given a present and as he tore off the wrapping paper, he’s jumping with excitement because it was an X-box box? His mother encourages him to open the box and, inside, he finds a bag rocks as the mother proudly tells him to “Do better in school.”

Public shaming/flogging is an age-old method of getting people within a society to conform to its norms. I don’t support any of the three examples I mentioned because I don’t know if the young people really deserved to be permanently and publicly humiliated, but I do think it is time for parents of errant children to be held up to a very public scrutiny. 

For example, the alleged killers of Demario Bailey. We know nothing about them or the families who spawned them. We don’t know if other family members have been involved with the law. We don’t know if the mother works or if the father(s) lives in the house. We don’t know if public assistance is what fed and clothed them. 

Right now, as a society, criminals and their families hide behind a system that no longer focuses on their behavior. That lack of focus is the reason our criminals are getting both younger and bolder. Without the threat of their lives and behaviors being put under a microscope, there is no impetus for folks to restrain themselves. 

Would public shaming of a criminal’s family begin a trend of changing the way families handle their family members’ criminal behavior? I think it would. Why? Because once a person who lives under your roof is charged with a heinous crime, the laws regarding “privacy” should go out the window. We should know and see everything that there is to know about the criminal and his/her family. We should know where they live. We should know where they work. We shouldn’t be content with superficial reports but see actual news investigations. Let’s have a hard firsthand look at Cook County Jail and not the romanticized version that’s out there because those who profess they don’t mind going to jail sing a different tune when confronted with the reality of jail. We want people to see others embarrassed so they look at their family members and tell them, “Don’t front me off so that I end up on television like so-and-so.” 

Desperate times require not just desperate measures but creative measures as well. 

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