Teen Shaming Signs Are Mom’s Punishment: ‘I Am A Thief, I Can’t Be Trusted’

Teen shaming signs seem to be a growing parenting trend, with creative parents devising unique — and humiliating — punishments for misbehaving teens (and tweens) involving public sign-holding to embarrass the acting-out kids in question.

The latest incident involving teen-shaming signs at a busy intersection involves stepbrothers, 11 and 14, whose mom/stepmom discovered they’d stolen a giftcard. She was, clearly, not very impressed by the boys’ behavior.

Mom Natashia Scott learned that the boys, Unique Caruthers, 11, and Xacherey Scott, 14, had swiped a $50 giftcard she’d received at work and intended to use on the family’s gas bill. According to Scott, the pair stole the card and used it at Dairy Queen, prompting their unusual punishment Tuesday night.

In the family’s home city of Indianapolis, the mom’s teen shaming signs were held by the boys at a busy intersection. One read:

“I am a thief. I stole from my mother and family. I can’t be trusted. If you see me on the streets, watch out because I am a thief.”

The other kid’s sign stated:

“I am [an] accomplice to a thief! I help spend stolen money from my step mom. Don’t trust me! If you see me on the streets go the other way because I will help get you.”

Scott told W-ISH that she worried the boys were acquiring bad habits, and said:

“This is their punishment, because I refuse to let them fall victim to the streets … I didn’t want to beat them, so now they get to sit and stand out here on 38th Street and let everybody know what they did … I had obtained a gift card from my job for going over and beyond, and on Friday they decided to steal it, and go to the gas station and Dairy Queen. So on Saturday, when I went to use it and pay my gas bill, because that’s what I was going to use it for, it was gone.”

While the teen shaming may sound mean, the boys appear to have taken the harsh public lesson in stride. One of the boys said:

“Yeah I learned my lesson. Standing out here for a long time, then I gotta hold this … everybody just looking at me weird. I don’t want to do that again.”

The other boy added:

“I don’t want to be out here again, for the same reason, or another reason … I want to do better.”

Not everyone supports making teens hold signs in public announcing their missteps, and Fran Walfish, a child psychotherapist in Beverly Hills, California told Yahoo of a previous incident:

“Punishing a kid with public humiliation not only makes the parent appear immature, it reflects a genuine mean streak … When a parent goes this far, they completely break the trust that’s so crucial in adolescence. Of course no one wants their child to misbehave but when parents use public shame it’s a sign that they’ve really lost control over their kids.”

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Scott’s Indianapolis teen shaming signs at a public intersection incident wasn’t the first time such a punishment made headlines. Mom Renee Nickell and dad Tommy Jordan, in separate incidents, gained national attention when their creative and public teen punishments went viral.

Do you think it’s cruel to hold teens publicly accountable for bad behavior and that teen shaming goes too far, or are kids going to benefit from strong consequences?