#nowwhat, Culture, Public Shaming -

Public Shaming Needs to Stop: #NowWhat

Public shaming is never the answer.

ColumnPublic shaming is out of control. It needs to stop.

We’ve all seen the disturbing videos of parents beating their kids via Facebook Live, or taking photos of their kids holding signs containing the “bad” thing they did by the side of a local, city road. And then there are the boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, and wives who think it’s a grand idea to post photos of their ex-lovers or private messages from them.

Well, it appears that this trend is, sadly, catching on. The latest offenders? Police officers.

The incident we’re referring to happened in mid-September during a traffic stop in East Liverpool, Ohio.

“East Liverpool police Officer Kevin Thompson approached the driver, James Acord, who was weaving erratically between lanes, noticing the man’s head ‘bobbing back and forth his speech was almost unintelligible,’ according to an affidavit,” CNN reports.

“Thompson said Acord was trying to tell him that he was taking the passenger passed out in the front seat, Rhonda Pasek, to a hospital. But immediately afterward, the driver lost consciousness — and Thompson saw a little boy in the back of the car.”

In our opinion, the following is the point that the stop turned inappropriate.

After realizing that both adults in the car were unconscious, the officer felt compelled to post a photo on Facebook of the couple and the little boy in the backseat. The caption he posted on Facebook states:

“This child can’t speak for himself but we are hopeful his story can convince another user to think twice about injecting this poison while having a child in their custody.”

Now, no one here is saying the officer shouldn’t have pulled over the couple, or not called emergency response vehicles when the officer noticed the female passenger was turning blue. The problem is with the photographs.

Look, we get it. What this officer witnessed is an all-too-common problem in America. Cities throughout the United States are dealing with the newly reignited heroin epidemic. But this matter should be private—no matter how ugly and damaging it is.

Placing these photos online will not persuade any opioid or heroin user to not take drugs because addiction is more complex than that–and let’s be real–if you’re off bingeing on heroin, scrolling your Facebook feed isn’t a priority. First, an addict has to choose to change, then some real evolution can occur. And we won’t even get into how inappropriate it is that the officer left the child in the photo. That kid will now and forever be part of this public image.

Just think if a police office posted photos of a woman or man passed out in a park after a sexual assault. Do you think those photos would stop a possible rapist from assaulting another victim? Hell no. Only a potential rapist can choose not to rape, similar to how an addict has to choose to get clean.

So, East Liverpool, Ohio police department: we get your frustration. But next time please think before you post.

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Image of shamed person via Shutterstock

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