Mother Punishes Shoplifting Son With 'I Am A Thief' Sign

Family Matters on 08.28.11
Contributor bio

Photo: Screengrab from Townsville Bulletin

A mother in Townsville, Australia is garnering some international attention for forcing her young son to wear a humiliating sign in public earlier this week, in a last-ditch effort to get him to stop shoplifting.

The boy, who was believed to about 10 years old, was apparently made to wear a sign saying “Do not trust me. I will steal from you as I am a THIEF” for about an hour outside, while his family ate lunch nearby.

To top it off, the boy also was made to wear a pair of Shrek ears.

The mother, who remains unnamed, gave her son the punishment after discovering stolen candy bars in his bedroom. Despite public criticism, she nevertheless defended her decision as a last resort to scare her son straight, after countless futile attempts at counselling and conventional discipline. The Globe and Mail quotes her as saying:

We’ve had a process over the last three years of him shoplifting and stealing whatever he can get his hands on. I have taken him to the police station, had the police officers take him around, shown him a paddy wagon, shown him all the cells, shown him the process of being charged. [..] I have put him into courses, I have had counselling down, I have done everything I can.

While some observers are calling this act cruel and overboard, others are applauding her for courageously using a little tough love. The single mother of three children, who says she had a dishonest past herself before coming clean, wanted her son to grow up differently, and explains how the incident was equally as unpleasant for her:

I did the same thing as my son, shoplifting as a teenager, and then it escalated because I didn't have a mum there to teach me right from wrong. [..]

I think he has learnt his lesson. [He got] lots of looks and people laughing at him. It wasn’t very nice for me to watch that at all.

What do you think? Do you think this parent acted in the interests of her child and would you do the same if confronted with similar circumstances?


Top Articles on Discipling Your Kids
Corporal Punishment Caught on Tape in New Study
Empty Threats: The Importance of Following Through on Discipline
London's Rioting Kids: Who Is Responsible?
Mom Fined, Put on Probation for Spanking Toddler