Criminal Charges For Web-Shaming? Sure.

Gee, I wonder why that kid is a bully?

Gee, I wonder why that kid is a bully?

Police in Winter Garden, Florida have arrested and charged Christle Prado and her, ah, “roommate” for forcing her 10-year-old son to wear a dress, and then posting photos on Facebook to humiliate him. Discipline, you see; he had wet his bed.

The model mom and Keith Driscoll were charged with cruelty toward children and infliction of mental injury on a child.


I’ve written about web-shaming children before, and characterized it as child abuse, which it is. A maxim here is that when ethics fail, the law must take over. It is a poor second option, but for this couple and those like them, including the parents of the boy in the photo to the left, it is a necessary and an ethical one.

Police learned about the abuse after one of the boy’s relative saw posted photos of the boy dressed as a girl and wearing makeup. He was crying. I wonder how many of Prado’s friends “liked” those photos on Facebook? Prado told police that Driscoll came up with the idea to dress her son like a girl as a way to discipline him, went along with it because she “did not want to cause problems with her living situation.”  Oh, well, that’s all right then, ma’am—you can go now. Driscoll, you see, is her sleep-in landlord.

Yechhh. I wonder what else she’ll do to her son to keep that cozy relationship peaceful? Cigarette burns? Whipping? Water-boarding?

The child cruelty charge is a second-degree felony. I’m all in favor of expanding such charges to apply to the parents who post photos of children holding signs that read “I pooped on the floor” and other self-incriminating screeds compsed by mom and dad, even those who aren’t doing it to interfere with their sex-for-rent arrangements. In fact, I’d expand it to include those Jimmy Kimmel fans who make YouTube videos of their children crying because their Christmas gift appeared to be old sweat socks or broccoli, in the hopes that Jimmy will make their exploitation of their own kids go viral. (An excellent discussion of everything that is wrong with child-shaming on the web can be found here.)

Using the web to humiliate your powerless children—forever, remember—is wrong, but if parents are so stupid, cruel and ethically inert that they can’t fathom this basic Golden Rule principle, it should be illegal too.


Pointer: Fark

Facts: WFTV

22 thoughts on “Criminal Charges For Web-Shaming? Sure.

  1. In the 1970s, when I was a kid, if something embarassing happened to me, I felt like the whole world was watching. Of course, my parents reminded me that it wasn’t the literal whole world. But, to a child, their circle of influence (family, friends, school, neighborhood) is their whole world.

    Today, a child can actually be humiliated in front of the entire world. Viral videos, Facebook photos that can shared throughout the entire web, photoshopped and slapped with unflattering, unfunny catchphrases and other myopic social media posts exploit them for amusement or for the perceived benefit of the adult.

    In this case, the adults didn’t want to have to deal with a poor kid with a medical condition he probably can’t control.

    And you are absolutely right, Jack. Every day, children in this country come home and are punched, neglected or molested because Mom is desperate for companionship and an extra paycheck.

    I can’t tell you how powerless it felt to have my Mom’s boyfriend curse at us and call us names. If we stood up for ourselves, he would threaten to move out. My Mom would cry and beg him to stay. We were lucky. That type of abuse often escalates when the boyfriend realizes Mom will not protect her children. It didn’t with us. But it’s a helpless feeling when you realize that Mom will not help you.

    And that’s part of why Prado’s son was crying. Helpless, powerless and at their mercy.

    • Of course it’s in Florida! What in the world is going on in Florida? Is it something in the water? Of course, being from Texas I don’t have much room to talk. But I think Florida even has Texas beat when it comes to “things you don’t want happening in your state”.

  2. “In this case, the adults didn’t want to have to deal with a poor kid with a medical condition he probably can’t control.”

    Medical condition or a sign of abuse. I’m sure the facebook photo doesn’t even scratch the surface on this one. Poor kid.

  3. This goes way beyond unethical; there is something seriously, desperately wrong with a parent that would subject their babies to this, or any, sort of abuse. I don’t buy the “well, the parent was abused as a child too” excuse either. Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say that my father was a monster; so much so that I ran away at age 12 and lived in the woods until I was old enough to join the Navy. Most people would predict that I would treat my kids as my father treated us, but it’s actually quite the opposite. My babies are precious to me beyond measure. I’d rather die than ever hurt them in any way. I’m often accused of being too lenient, in fact. I try to remember that I owe them an environment that fosters self-discipline and boundaries, and I think I’m pretty adept at that, but I’d much rather err towards the too lax pole than the alternative.

    • Joed68 – my condolences. I can’t do anything to help the boy you were. I can maybe help other boys in that situation now and I hope you take comfort from that.

      Thanks for doing your part to break the vicious circle.

  4. Giving a boy a taste of Gender Dysphoria requires imaginative sadism.

    Humiliating him in public like that… I’d make darn sure this guy’s sentence is long enough so he can’t torture kids again. Not as punishment, deterrent, or attempt to rehabilitate, just to remove opportunity for repeat offence.

    The weak-willed “mother”‘s crime is of a lesser degree, and 20 years with parole after 10 is appropriate.

    My main concern, after making sure this pair can’t do any further damage, is to get the kid out of there and into medical treatment. Change name, move out of state, new birth certificate.

    Trans boys get hardened to this kind of thing. Some turn out pretty well – Chaz Bono for example – despite it being a prolonged experience.

    A lot kill themselves though.

    But cis boys haven’t been hardened to it. A single episode that’s made public could very well screw them up for life unless they can escape from it, completely, cut off all ties with it. I hope this pair didn’t realise that.

    In a perfect world where gender roles were treated with the disrespect they deserve, where it was just clothing and paint, this wouldn’t be a big deal. It is though in the world we live in, and if by mischance the kid is trans, something like this would likely be immediately fatal at age 10.

  5. The boy is probably lucky that nothing worse happened to him, sorry as what happened was. It seems that about three in every four cases of big case child abuse, it happens with a no-account mother and a “boyfriend” who lives in with her. God help that boy.

    • People need to get the whole story good greif seriouly there is no medical condison and the mother didnt publicly do anything facbook allowed this moms account to be hacked and it was in a private message were the boy did this as a joke it was taken out of context now no charges are filed and the mother has them back

          • e.e. lived in my freshman dorm room when HE was a freshman. My room mate and I kept hoping his ghost would drop in, and we could then drive him away by reciting Longfellow and “The Highwayman.” But he never showed.

            • Here’s a carpentry joke:

              What’s the difference between a Girder and a Joist?

              Well, Goethe was a famous German statesman who also authored many prominent works. Joyce was a drunk Irishman.

              But in seriousness:

              Joyce was an Irish author that wine sipping yuppies with no common sense or grounding in life like to pretend was a masterful author. Most of his work was probably composed while completely hammered. A strategy that probably worked for Hemingway worked for Joyce in exactly the same way alcohol helped Ireland forge its expansive empire.

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