Shaming Kids

13 October 2012
It's been a running theme in society since the time of Plato that the current generation of kids are spoiled, decadent, out of control. Well, maybe, but there's one thing that hasn't changed; that some adults think it's okay to shame kids.

Getting the bus to work this week, a kid of around ten, dressed in a primary school uniform, boarded the bus without his bus pass. Okay, he probably should have mentioned this to the driver, but he was probably too shy to do so. Anyway, after the kid sat down, the driver pulled the bus over and roared "Get down here!" No one moved. The driver got out of his seat and stood in the aisle. "You - with the skateboard. Get down here!" The poor kid walked up to the driver, who shouted "Where does it say that this bus is free?!"
"I forgot my pass" stammered the poor boy.
"That's no excuse! You ask for permission to board or pay! You don't just get on! Now SIT DOWN".

And the poor kid did sit, and promptly burst into tears. Luckily there was a schoolfriend of his on the bus, with his mother, who attempted to comfort the boy. Me? I'm not so good at the comforting business, but I did take the driver's card number, and have sent in an official complaint.

Why is this sort of thing apparently okay? I have seen dozens, heck hundreds, of old age pensioners board the bus with expired tickets. Occasionally a driver will gently say something, but in the vast majority of cases they let it go, and the senior boards without incident, or paying. Probably the sensible course of action. You can't possibly imagine a driver yelling at a pensioner who tried to board without paying, so why is it okay to publicly berate and shame a child for doing so?

I hope the kid got to school, played with his friends,  and forgot all about it, but I'm not so sure. I still remember an incident in year seven where I stood up slightly too early at a school assembly. That was all. I was called on to the stage and berated in front of the whole school for my ten seconds lapse in attention. I've never forgotten the shame and humiliation. And for what? Some deep seated belief that children represent original sin and need to be tamed? Because some adults are jerks who like to show they've got power over kids? I just don't get why it's okay.

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