When Jose Gonzalez’s father Joseph Gonzalez found out his son had stolen $100 from a family member, Jose’s father went beyond the usual grounding or taking away TV privileges as punishment. To pay for his crime, 12-year-old Jose was ordered to stand on a street corner in downtown Denver and hold a sign that proclaimed: “I am a thief. I took money from a family member.”
Joseph Gonzalez told The Denver Post that his son is "a good kid," and that "this is the first time he's done something like this. I hope it will be the last." Jose spent hours of his spring break at his post of shame (with bathroom and drink breaks). Gonzalez watched Jose from the pawn shop he owns and also took Jose to school to admit his crime to school officials.
Gonzalez explained his tough love approach to the Post in a video interview. “It’s either holding the sign or go to jail – jail is more harsh,” he said. “If more parents did this more often, kids wouldn’t be acting up all the time. […] We have parents who are afraid to punish their kids. I’m not afraid.”
While Gonzalez does not feel this was too harsh a punishment, Florida psychologist James Huysman feels differently. "The taking-responsibility part is cool, but the rest of this is not cool. This is about shame,” said Huysman, who explained to the Post that children are unable to gain insight from this kind of public atonement.
But Gonzalez believed Jose took his punishment “like a little man,” and Jose himself had even said it was fair. “I was mad and sad at the same time, ‘cause I thought I was going to be embarrassed a lot,” Jose said to the Post.
Watch the interview with Jose and his father:
Would you punish your kid in a public way like Gonzalez? Do you think this punishment was fair or too harsh?