Readers react to barber's haircut discipline: 'Just being a bully'

A Georgia barber's novel way to discipline children -- he shaves the crowns of their heads so they seem balding and elderly -- has gone viral, sparking discussion from AJC readers over the punishment's appropriateness and effectiveness.

When Russell Fredrick, co-owner of A-1 Kutz in Snellville, first posted photos of the "Benjamin Button Special" in late January, the idea was well received. (Frederick captioned the image, in part, with "so u wana act grown...well now u look grown too.") Fredrick told WSB that three children have been given the haircut in the past month.

Since the original story was posted this morning, it's been shared by more than 400 people on Facebook and seen by almost 100,000 -- and that's only on the AJC's main page. Many commenters found it "hilarious" or simply added, "LOL."

Others did not. "I couldn't do this to my son. I've thought about it but, kids these days beat on children for the way they look," wrote La'Shay Brooks. "This is setting them up to be bullied. My son acts out, my husband and I make him do back yard exercises until he's tired."

Brett Malloy said, "That's just being a bully to your child. Great lesson to teach them."

Theirs were two among many varied views.

Dee Osborne was more conditional. "I say it depends on the kid," Osborne wrote. "If a kid behaves arrogantly or tends to bully or boss others around then this method could show them what it feels like when they behave like that. I don't see that as a bad thing.

"If a kid has confidence issues or is overly sensitive then this wouldn't be appropriate."

Sara Raxter Allen wrote, "This is hysterical!" And Nikki Williams wrote (in all-caps), "EXACTLY WHAT OUR KIDS NEED!!!!! THANK YOU A1 KUTZ FOR HELPING AND CARING ABOUT THE KIDS OF THE FUTURE!!"

However, Douglas Roberts wrote that "if you need a barber, or to humiliate your kids to teach them "discipline" then maybe you shouldn't have kids..."

Fredrick told the Washington Post that the "special" was designed as a response to scrutiny about corporal punishment. “When you go to discipline kids these days, they can’t necessarily use physical punishment they way parents did in the past, but they have to do something," he said. "If you don’t, and your kid ends up doing something crazy, everyone is going to say the problems started at home.”

But a psychotherapist told the Post that "lots of research that supports the fact that when a child is blamed or shamed it triggers their nervous system, and when the nervous system is shut down, it is directly connected to the brain."

Days after posting the original image of the haircut, Fredrick posted an update: "The pic went so crazy over the net that I had to fix it today." The good news, he wrote, is that the child didn't want any more problems.

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