Why does using shame as punishment uncivilize and downright mean? What kind of harmful psychologal consequences would the criminal feel after shaming?I am against public shaming because I believe...

Why does using shame as punishment uncivilize and downright mean? What kind of harmful psychologal consequences would the criminal feel after shaming?

I am against public shaming because I believe that it is not effective.

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the previous answer was really accurate.  Part of the reason why shaming does not work as a criminal punishment might lie in the fact that there is little connection between accused and external body.  It stands to reason that if there was an emotional bond between both, the person accused of criminal activity might not have engaged in it in the first place.  Public shaming is one of those elements that is more for the perception of others than it is for the accused themselves.  Shaming seems to have the most effect when there is a relationship or bond present between two people.  For example, when a student does something really out of established boundaries, I have seen wonders in being able to tell them how ashamed I am to have placed trust in them to see it violated.  This works when I have some type of connection with the student.  I cannot really do this as much to a student to whom I don't know.  I could, but the results would not be present.  This analogy might be applicable in the situation of public shaming for criminal activity.  Additionally, I would suggest that shaming goes against the fundamental notion of due process in the opportunity for every citizen to be heard.  If we draw an arbitrary line that suggests specific individuals merit dignified responses and others do not, it invalidates our dignified responses in the first place.  It also sets a precedent where lines can be blurred quite easily.  I think that this is where I stand on it.  I believe in punishment for social and legal transgressions and sometimes, those might be mean.  Lifetime incarceration is mean.  There is little doubt about that.  Yet, public shaming seems to be a bit misguided from being able to represent a punishment consistent with socially democratic expressions of jurisprudence.

crmhaske eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The short answer is it is uncivilized because it doesn't work.  To publicly humiliate someone to an end that is not achieved is quite barbaric.  Criminals are already quite ostracized from society, to publicly humiliate them in front of people is useless.  Even if a person was reputable in society, embarrassing them and ruining that reputation does not provide an individual an opportunity to try again.

Rehabilitation, and cognitive behavioural therapy are much more effective at curbing maladaptive behaviours.  Negative punishment only encourages an individual to behave well when people are watching, it does nothing to change their overall behaviour and thought patterns.

Furthermore, creative punishments such as individualized shaming creates a justice system that lacks uniformity.  Without uniformity the severity of punishments for the same crime will be sporadic.  Inconsistence punishment is not an effective deterrent.

The psychological consequences can be quite significant depending on the mental resilience of a person.  In severe cases it can lead to suicide.  Even in the most mild of cases it can lead to post traumatic stress disorder and social phobias.