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When Public Shaming Isn't The Answer

Last Friday in Tacoma ,Washington, 13-year-old Izabel Laxamana committed suicide by jumping off of a bridge onto a busy interstate highway after her father posted a video online humiliating her by cutting off her hair. She died the next day as a result of her injuries.

Reports say that she was riding in the car with her grandmother just before the incident. As they came to a stop, she bolted from the car and leapt over the bridge guard rail without hesitation.

"Without hesitation."

Has the digital age ushered in a trend that compels parents to seek praise by racing to the Internet to publicly humiliate their children for average childhood offenses?

What could cause a 13-year-old girl to believe that death would be better than life? It could be the fact that the very man she trusted to protect and guide her would be the cause of the most painful moment of her life. If he was filmed cutting his wife's hair for being non-compliant, he would be considered an abuser. The fact that he did it to his daughter, who he treated as his property and not a human being, is the only thing keeping him from that label.

It has become common to read about parents being praised for disciplining their children by posting embarrassing videos on social media but we rarely read about the aftereffects. What happens to these unwilling Internet sensations once the "likes" stop rolling in and their parents have been cheered for their parenting tactics? Does anyone think about that?

Has the digital age ushered in a trend that compels parents to seek praise by racing to the Internet to publicly humiliate their children for average childhood offenses? Each week, the Internet is transforming virtual unknowns into viral sensations under the guise of being good parents. Parents using social media humiliation as a form of discipline are actually walking a fine line between healthy parenting and abuse.

If she had not committed suicide, she is likely to have grown up with a deep mistrust for everyone in this world and unable to form positive relationships or function socially because she would expect that every face will offer the same treatment. Those are the aftereffects of abuse.

I should know. I feel the same way that she did. I went through the same type of abuse. The difference between Isabel and me is the fact that even at a young age, I had other goals to focus on that outweighed my anger and pain.

Most children do not have such passions to distract them from bullying parents. At 13, they are just forming their opinions about the world, making judgments about themselves and others. Thirteen is much too young to expect her to understand that the pain she is feeling as a result of this type of abuse won't last forever.

A 13-year-old mind cannot process hope for the future when it is immersed in the agony of the loss of trust and innocence. At 13, she did not understand that there could be a bright future ahead of her once she escaped her abuser's home. Whatever she did to upset her father, he paid the ultimate price. He corrected her behavior, all right, and lost her forever.

Parents, please stop bullying your children for a few "likes" and shares. I know you don't always know what to do to steer your kids in the right direction—I know I don't. You can only do the best you can do, be a good example, share wisdom with them and teach them how to deal with disappointment.

Raising children on fear makes you an abuser. You can be a parent without being a bully.

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