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