The Demon Barber Of Snelville


A barbershop in the Atlanta suburb of Snelville offers parents the opportunity to give their misbehaving little boys a punishment they’ll never forget.  A-1 Kutz will give the boys a “Benjamin Button Special,” free of charge, a haircut invented by Russell Fredrick and his team of barbers that makes tykes look like balding progeria victims.

Gee, what a good idea.

Fredrick  is a 34-year-old father of three, and first tried the disfiguring haircut on his 12-year-old son, Rushawn, last fall. He claims it was a great success, since Rushawn’s grades“dramatically skyrocketed” after he was humiliated. And we all know the ends justify the means. Now, he claims, there has been a surge of interest from other parents.He told the Washington Post that he thinks African-American parents are looking for alternative ways of discipline after the uproar over Adrian Peterson—yes, that other NFL role-model–leaving bruises and welts on his four-year-old with a tree branch. All right, I’ll concede that humiliating a child among his peers and using childhood cruelty as a tool of discipline might be preferable to putting your child in the hospital because you beat the crap out of him. I will not concede that those are the only options, or that African American parents are so devoid of imagination and compassion that the only forms of discipline they can envision are forms of cruelty.

How is a humiliating haircut less cruel than forcing a child to carry an “I’m a bad kid”  sign and stand on a corner, wear a dress,  sport a dunce cap, or have his face died blue? Would a parent ever inflict such a sartorial torture on a girl? When is a child too old to be humiliated like this?

I also have doubts that intentionally giving an ugly haircut to a client, child or not, is ethical barbering. I’ve taught salon ethics: the hair care codes of ethics are haphazard and don’t provide much useful guidance. The barber’s profession, however, is supposedly about giving good haircuts that make those sitting in a barber’s chair feel good about themselves, not worse. Would an ethical restaurant accept money to make a horrible tasting meal for a child? Would an ethical nanny accept money to make a child miserable for a day?

This is child abuse, an abuse of parental power, and unethical.


Facts: Washington Post

75 thoughts on “The Demon Barber Of Snelville

  1. Next up, the collaboration special, in which misbehaving young girls’ locks are shorn like those of French women who collaborated with the Nazis.

      • As far the Frenchwomen whose heads were shaved for “collaboration horizontale” goes, it was a post-war scandal, a frenzy of French-on-French “tondeur” brutality. Many women had simply been without protection of their POW or dead husbands or male relatives (or other Frenchpeople), needed food for themselves or their children, and took refuge with German soldiers or became easy victims of rape. Thousands were taken by the German troops in the same manner as Japanese soldiers’ “comfort women”, — spoils of the victors or just there for the taking — without the women necessarily having a scrap of knowledge to collaborate with. Head-shaving and beatings were nothing new: German women who “had relations” with the French troops occupying the Rhineland in 1923 had their heads shaved as prostitutes. Same in the Spanish civil war with women from republican (note: lower-case R) families — where their “collaboration” was a given; Eastern European women who had consorted, forced or not, with Soviet military.

        Any woman who had billeted a German soldier, or who had an abortion for any reason was fair game for the shearers.
        Resistance leaders themselves tried to stop the practice, and came down hard on worse incidents, such as the mobs of men (encouraged by Communists) who kicked to death the prostitutes in Paris for having plied their trade with German clients, whether or not they had served French or …. um …. Allied clients as well.

        The upshot was that De Gaulle put an end to it expediently by officially pardoning all the women. The outcome was that there was no prosecution of actual collaborators; nor any punishment for those who persecuted, beat or murdered any unprotected women they could get their hands on.

        I imagine Russell Fredrick will go scissoring on his merry way as well.

        There is documentary evidence here for the curious:

        • You’re right. I do vaguely recall hearing something about this a long time ago, but not with the detail with which you described it.

        • Yeah, and 90% of the French declared they worked for the Resistance during WWII. They folded like a deck of cards, Vichy France was established, and later, French women complained that their homes in Normandy were damaged when thousands of Americans and Brits came in to free France and the rest of Europe from the Third Reich… It’s just possible that the “French-on-French tondeur brutality” was the result of some kind of collective guilt over the part France played, or more accurately, did not play in fighting the Hitler and his Third Reich.

      • “I’m not sure I would have had a problem with shaving Nazi collaborators, I must admit.”

        But what about the children of those collaborators. You might ruin their lives by exposing them…..

        • Thus does Dan seriously try to compare treason during wartime with adultery (You know, personal conduct when a President does it)—but only the adultery committed by Republicans. He’s the poor guy you see over there completely tangled up in a huge ball of yarn…

          • I am revealing a flaw in his logic. He so fears outing persons for fear of the impact of children in the other thread but not so much here.

            Of course Clinton committed an act of adultery. I have never said otherwise. I wonder how joe felt about the revelations of Clinton’s infidelity and how Chelsea would react to them.

            Now, the difference between the Alabama Speaker and Clinton was that Clinton didn’t run as a “i live in the moral highground despite cheating” candidate.

  2. P.S. a child is too old to be punished by humiliation when that child gains sufficient wisdom to stop doing the acts that necessitate punishment. And I think you could ethically pay a coach-type figure to frighten a misbehaving kid in the manner of “Scared Straight.”

  3. Ah…yes…a parent would do this to a girl. We had a father shave his daughter’s head as a punishment. She was in kindergarten. It was one of the saddest things I’ve ever witnessed. No consequences for the father.

        • If someone cuts your hair off against your will, it’s assault and battery. Now, presumably a parent has the privilege of limited corporal punishment, but is it transferable? I don’t think it is.

          • Not sure about that one. Child abuse statutes are all over the place. That said, I went to Catholic high school where, not too long before my time, the Irish Christian Brothers actively told parents they would give them the same physical discipline they would get at home. The days of that kind of active advertisement were over by the time I got there, together with the worst abuses (like one brother giving a kid forty extremely hard lashes with a belt), but they still did not hesitate to smack you upside the head or slam you up against the locker if you got too far out of line. Most of the time the parents were just fine with it, and I say good for them. Sometimes the only way to get a kid’s attention is to go extreme.

              • I never said the Church didn’t look the other way on its members’behavior, even cover it up. I think my main point is that the parents who sent their kids to this school knew what went on there and usually were OK with it, because they wouldn’t hesitate to smack their misbehaving kids around at home.

                  • Eh, such parents are old school. It wasn’t THAT long ago in this country that parents told their kids not to tell them that the teacher hit them, because they’d get a second one from the parents, and if a cop found a kid pitching pennies, that kid would be looking at a flogging from the thongs on the billy club, before being taken home for additional treatment by the parents.

                    Remember the “I was drug” monologue?

                  • I wonder what the prevalence of non-parentally-administered spankings was before public schools came into their own?

                    This obviously has to do with the temporary “loaning” of parental authority to school masters, as the private school, I assume did this long ago as well.

                    I honestly doubt if any instances OUTSIDE of an educational facility, in which a non-parent spanked a kid would have been tolerated by parents.

                    • Mmmm, a few baseball coaches I knew growing up didn’t hesitate to give a kid a good shake, drag him by the collar, or scream at him punctuating everything with GODDAAAAAAAMNIIIIIIIT!!!! Parents didn’t say boo.

                    • Oh, and one Scout leader actually put me in a “sleeper” hold and rendered me unconscious for acting out, and also took another troublesome kid in a room, put a chair in the center, sat in it, and told him “you’re going to do jumping jacks until I get tired!” and proceeded to have the kid do jumping jacks until he literally couldn’t move. Neither my dad nor the other kid’s father said word one, they knew their sons had been jackasses and deserved what they got.

                    • Good side examples. But for purposes of this discussion and abstraction, it’s safe to roll any institution that works to train a child towards some skill or goal will need to be treated as an “educational facility”.

                      Controlled application of non-damaging / non-maiming pain is one of the quickest and most effective methods of searing into a child’s mind “don’t do this”.

                      As much as we want to pretend “inspirational” parenting is the high road, I doubt it’s effectiveness. Children don’t pay tons of attention to that and what’s even worse, Nature and the World don’t use “inspirational” methods for controlling outlying conduct or attitudes… So it’s better to teach a kid early that doing the wrong thing hurts, using methods that won’t actually damage the child, so they don’t go blissfully through life not knowing that Nature & the World will reward not doing the right thing with destruction or death.

                      First hand experience in that department is infinitely better than merely telling a child “that could hurt or kill you, don’t do it”.

                      “Stay out of the street, you could be hit by a car”.

                      Kid walks in the street.


                      Minor simulation of pain and suffering modeling what could really happen.

                      Way better than “go sit in time out” or “you don’t get a cookie” for that conduct. Also way better than, on the flipside, “hey I’ll give you a cookie if you do the right thing”. I can’t stand bribery to behave.

                      But the question is – how much parental authority is right to “loan” to another?

  4. It’s kind of heartening that at least we’ve gotten to the point where we aren’t arguing whether or not this is child abuse. Yay?

  5. What surprises me, of course it is early, is that usually these types of posts cause at least one or two actual locals to come on board and defend the subject of the post. Typically with an “it’s ok because it works” argument.

    • (reply to texagg04 Feb 5, 11:22 am)
      I think what gnaws at me is thinking of the possibility that the head-shaving-to-shame method of intended discipline could backfire, and turn into a victim’s “badge of honor” among his peers. “Look at me! I set fire to all the paper in the Boys’ Room at school! All it did was make me look older! HA!”

      (That wasn’t an example drawn from personal experience. Really. Oh what the heck! I know I can’t be trusted. But, it’s true: I set NO fires in school.)

  6. Most of the kids I have worked with are typically the ones most people would call “really, really bad kids”…the ones who probably need some major changes in their behavior the most. You have to be very careful when it comes to discipline with these kids. I don’t use corporal punishment because so many of these kids have already been physically abused. As far as humiliating them or embarrassing them in front of their peers…there are usually two things that can happen. The kid feels he has to defend himself to save face and that can get very ugly really fast or the kid will take it…and seethe…and that will get really ugly a little later down the line.

  7. Lucky…or the haircut punishment backfires and actually causes more problems because the kid is now being teased by other students who are laughing and joking and he feels the need to defend himself. And chaos soon erupts in Miss Maple’s 6th grade math class.

    • Yup, and in all likelihood the kid who initially got punished gets suspended or transferred because he was “a magnet for trouble.” The moral of the story is to stay out of trouble from the get-go, because once you start down that path, it can become a downward spiral.

      • Steve-O…you are right. So in this situation…the kid had low grades and the adults gave him the jacked up haircut which could have led to much more serious problems for the kid in school. The thing is…kids get low grades. It happens. Adults should use consequences that aren’t going to potentially make things worse for the kid. Kids already are great at doing stupid things. That’s what kids do. They surely don’t need any help from the adults in that area.

        • Oh I know, I’ve been there done that. And no one knows better than me that kids do both dumb things and malicious things, simply because they don’t think things through, or don’t think them all the way through. How do we get them to think things all the way through, then?

          • Teaching them to think things all the way through the way an adult would really isn’t possible because kids have a limited experience compared to an adult. A parent gets upset with the kid’s low grades because the parent envisions the kid not being accepted into college, living on the streets or worse, never leaving home! The kid doesn’t think like this. The younger or the more immature the kid, the less future oriented he is because he truly has no idea how his behavior now might affect him in the future or even the next five minutes. I don’t know how many times I have said that if I could just go back and redo things starting in the 6th grade, knowing what I know now…I would have already been President, solved the Mideast issues, and an opera singer on top of it.

    • (reply to Sharon Feb 5, 1:19 pm)
      True, what you say – there is no one way for the attempted shaming kind of punishment to backfire – it depends on the kid and his relationship with his peers. It’s almost impossible to predict, I believe you will agree.

      Effectiveness, or ineffectivness (backfiring) of the shaming-discipline, depends on the authority figure involved in being dissed by the misbehaving kid, too, such as the teacher in a classroom for example, and the overall state of respect between teacher and class altogether. If enough of the strongest personalities in the class look up to the one given the intended shaming punishment, and those same strong personalities already have a grudge against the teacher…That is the scenario I was imagining, earlier: Punished kid comes back to class, grinning instead of sulking or acting like he wished he was invisible; classmates rally around him, instead of teasing him, and celebrate the attempted shaming. Teacher is respected even less than before. Class control goes to hell.

      A similar thing happened to me in 7th grade. We had a substitute. We weren’t being angels, but we weren’t completely blowing him off, either. He decided to be a jerk. He grabbed me (I was the biggest in class, almost as big as he, but by no measure a “leader” of my classmates), dragged me outside, tearing my shirt, and I forget what happened outside. I think he probably just growled at me and threatened me (like with sending me to the principal), while I surveyed my shirt and started to get really, really pissed at him (but I didn’t mouth-off, or even show anger right away; my anger was almost all covered-up). If I remember clearly, after being outside about a minute, he opened the door and pushed me back through it into the classroom. Clearly, he was making a show, trying to make it look like he had achieved my total submission. I suspect my classmates were on to his ploy, seeing that he was making an example of me. They weren’t buying it. My countenance was, I believe, very evident to my peers: I was not cowed, not ashamed, but angry – beyond defiant. A few started mouthing at him, and that’s when I became emboldened to mouth-off, too. I had reason to mouth-off, I reasoned, because HE TORE MY SHIRT. My memory goes most fuzzy from there. Maybe it all happened just a minute before the bell rang to change classes. Maybe an early exodus of students (some angry, some terrified), simply walking out on the teacher-jerk, began just a few minutes before the bell. I don’t remember how the rest of that day went. I might have gone to the prinicpal’s office on my initiative at some point, to complain about my torn shirt. All I know is, the jerk never was on that campus again. That is probably a very good thing, for him and for me. Because if he had shown up again, that year, I might have plotted and carried out some severely disabling violence on him.

      And there is ANOTHER reason why I call myself Lucky.

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