Child-Shaming Punishments Can Constitute Child Abuse

Q: Can harsh punishments cost me custody of my child?

If you’re considering getting divorced in Pennsylvania, you may be in wondering what is involved in the process. If you are parting ways, you’ll need to divide your property. In addition, you’ll need to consider if one spouse will pay spousal support, also known as alimony, to the other and if so, how much will the payments be and how long will they continue.

Couples with minor children will also need to work out such things as child custody, child support, and visitation. Unless there are circumstances which would make it unsafe or undesirable, it is generally deemed in the best interest of the children if both parents remain involved in their child’s life after the divorce.

Child custody refers to two different things – – physical and legal custody of the child. As the phrase implies, physical custody refers to who has actual physical custody of the child. In addition to determining where the child resides, there is legal custody to determine. Legal custody is the parental right to make major decisions on behalf of the child and it generally encompasses things such as educational preferences, religious practices, medical treatments, and activity involvement.

Not surprisingly, part of the reason couples may be divorcing may involve them having different opinions on one or more of the legal custody decisions. In such cases, continued differences he might result in one parent seeking a court-ordered modification of child custody arrangements– – especially if one parent’s parenting is seen as dangerous, unhealthy, or abusive to the child.

There is a disturbing new trend where parents are live streaming videos of them doling out punishments to their children on social media. These videos not only punish the child but humiliate them as well. Psychologists warn such an approach can be emotionally-damaging and have long-term consequences for the children.

Instead of tried and true punishments like time-out chairs and apology notes, some of these viral videos depict so-called “tough love” punishments including:

  • throwing Christmas presents in the fire

  • shaving children’s heads

  • driving over children’s technology devices

  • giving them humiliating haircuts or clothes,

  • forcing humiliating behavior in public.

One mom reportedly punished her lying son by forcing him to drink hot sauce and then take an ice-cold shower while screaming at him. The alleged child-shaming punishment was reportedly videotaped and went viral resulting in the mother “being convicted of child abuse”.

Most family law attorneys advise their divorce clients to be careful of what they post on social media because it can be used against them.

If you are considering getting divorced or need assistance with the enforcement or modification of a child support or child custody order, The Law Office of Gary R. Swavely, Jr. can help you. Contact us today for a consultation.

From our office in Reading, we’ve been servicing the legal needs of clients in Reading and the surrounding counties of Pennsylvania for over 25 years.