Akron: Teen holds sign outside in the bitter cold as punishment

AKRON -- On the corner of Brown and Lover's Lane, you could call it a sign -- of tough love.

13-year old Myasia was ordered by her aunt and guardian, Sonia Davis, to stand on the corner holding a sign with a message about the importance of walking away from confrontation.

It read: They [people in Jesus' time] talked about Jesus Christ. So what do I care what a person have (sic) to say about me. Now I'm standing outside holding this sign instead of being in school getting my education when I could have walked away! Because it's Jesus who died for me!

"You don't have to defend yourself against nobody's words," explained Davis, about the lesson that she wanted Myasia to learn. "You walk away, and at the end, you walk away as the winner."

A school fight led to Myasia's 3-day suspension. Davis said she tried everything to discipline the teen, including taking away electronics and privileges. But she said nothing seemed to work.

Davis did keep close watch in her car nearby, and gave Myasia frequent breaks to warm up.

The embarrassment seemed to have an effect.

"Stupid," said Myasia, when asked how she felt about standing outside with the sign. "A girl rode by in her car and she was laughing at me," she said.

Child psychologists say this type of shaming punishment runs the risk of damaging relationships between parent and child.

"What I'm concerned about is, now you might have to deal with resentment that you didn't have to deal with before," said Dr. Aaron Ellington, an adolescent psychologist for University Hospitals.

Ellington believes that teens may not have the emotional maturity to know how to walk away, and that simply telling them to walk away, is not enough.

He disagrees with the use of shaming punishments for children.

"You're still just trying to pour on the punishment to try to get this teen to comply, instead of saying, 'Let's look at it this way: You may not have the skills it takes to walk away, but you need to learn the skills to walk away, and we're going to teach you the skills,'" he said.


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