Public schools

For Crime of Violating Dress Code, Girl Must Wear Shirt of Shame

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Scarlet Letter
Wikimedia Commons

A Jacksonville, Florida, 15-year-old girl was forced to wear a shirt that reads "DRESS CODE VIOLATION," after administrators determined that her skirt was too short—an insane punishment that gave the girl a panic attack, according to her mother.

Miranda Larkin was new to Oakleaf High School and didn't know about the rules on skirt length, according to WTLV-TV. A teacher sent her to the school nurse, who forced her to wear a bright yellow shirt with the text "DRESS CODE VIOLATION" on it. Larkin was embarrassed—it was, after all, only her third day at a new school—broke out in hives, and called her mother crying from the school bathroom.

Administrators told reporters that students who violate the dress code actually have three options: have parents bring appropriate clothes, accept an in-school suspension, or don the shirt of shame. They may not have explained that to Larkin, though—a spokesperson admitted to WJXT-TV that the alternate options are not "always presented to the students."

Larkin's mother, Dianna Larkin, said her daughter needed medication:

"I actually had to get her medication for the hives. She was completely devastated. I don't know a better word. She was completely humiliated and devastated and for a mom, that's awful," said mom Dianna Larkin.

The family is filing a complaint under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), because the shirt automatically made Larkin's punishment known to all. Administrators disagreed that the shirt of shame violated FERPA:

"(The outfit) is not displaying a discipline record to the public," the statement said. "If we took off the words the other students would still know that the prison orange T-shirts were for dress code violations. I think that the practice is OK."

Readers, what do you think?

"Ah, but let her cover the mark as she will, the pang of it will be always in her heart."—The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne

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  1. As far as I’m concerned, the only disciplinary action my kids’ school is empowered to mete out is an out-of-school suspension. Short of that, let me know and I’ll handle it at home.

    1. Something tells me that if your kids were to be given out of school suspension you’d come up with some reason why that isn’t ok either. Basically you don’t like consequences.

    2. If they had done this to my kid, the school staff would be in danger of a serious beat down.

      Damn petty tyrants.

  2. Not a fan of dress codes in public schools. Not a fan of public schools.

    But if your little snowflake was “completely humiliated and devastated” over wearing a T-shirt, you are a complete and utter failure as a parent.

    1. agreed.

      i mean, …“an insane punishment that gave the girl a panic attack

      I know that our society has since become so estrogen-steeped that we’re supposed to take this sort of thing seriously…

      …but no. get a fucking grip, kid.

      1. ” to take this sort of thing seriously…”

        Heaven forbid anyone taking her troubles seriously. Having her story published in the papers like this, she has earned nothing but our contempt.

        1. Certainly nothing but my contempt, and apparently some sympathy from bleeding-hearts.

          1. Your ability to bear the suffering of others is impressive.

            1. its cunts like you that make ‘talking about caring… on the INTERNET!’ their main method of moral-oneupsmanship and actually makes this planet more retarded, because of the lack of real-life perspective people have anymore in dealing with real people in real situations.

              So go fuck yourself. I think people having panic attacks over their goddam clothing is retarded, and you’re even more retarded for pretending to give more of a shit than i completely dont.

              1. Do you have a wife or girlfriend? She never lost her mind over a dress not fitting or dirty heels? Clothes can be serious business to women, and high school girls aren’t exactly nice to each other about it.

              2. Are you really so offended by the actions of this 15 year old girl? It’s you who are the cunt lacking the ‘real life perspective.’ What’s truly retarded is your evident need to tell us how you feel about this girl’s clothing and her panic attacks.

          2. Cytotoxic, you have consistently exposed your astonishing ignorance on a variety of subjects. This is just one more in a long string.

      2. Who’s the wilting lily who described the punishment as “insane”? That total hyperbole.

        Insane punishment would consist of humping a rock up and down a flight of stairs or a mountainside.

        Get a grip REASON.

      3. She’s only 15 years old and she was new at the school. A nervous breakdown is not implausible.

        And this is the age of the internet and “bullies”. She could be ridiculed throughout the school year by the cliques and have her image circulated all over social media. Pre teens have committed suicide over over this kind of incident.

        Yes, her mom sought media attention. But at least the admins will now watch over her like a hawk.

        Behold the cognitive dissonance of some “socially liberal” kids who support gay marriage spreading mean gossip over internet and can’t be bothered to give their friend a 15 min ride somewhere when his or her car breaks down.

    2. I don’t think that’s entirely fair, FdA.

      In the teenage years most kids are still developing that part of themselves. Even tough kids are more vulnerable to humiliation than adults. It’s one of the most useful tools in the parental toolbox for a reason.

      Also for a teenager, along with parental figures, the school represents one of the key elements of power in the world. This wasn’t a group of mean girls inflicting the humiliation, but instead one of the fundamental powers in her world doing it. That’s a different dynamic.

      Such a sudden loss of perceived status can certainly result in emotional distress. That’s the whole point of this sort of punishment. Additionally there could be other social factors in her school life magnifying the significance of this punishment in her mind, such as being on the edge of acceptance and suddenly being pushed down, or maybe she’s really hung up on a boy and is terrified that this will ruin it.

      I hate this sort of shit, too, because public humiliation is one of the primary drivers for teenage suicide. Could this girl be a stronger person? I am sure she could, but she’s still just a kid and doesn’t need the authority figures in her life fucking with her like this just to make some puritanical or petty point about how she was dressed.

      1. Respectfully DwT,

        Being a pussy is THE primary driver for teenage suicide. I can’t tell you how many times I was humiliated as a kid (and I’ve got some doozies). I never considered suicide. In fact, those instances make you stronger. Telling these kids they should/won’t ever be uncomfortable is doing them a great disservice.

        Trophies for everyone. Poor little snowflakes shouldn’t need to learn to deal with adversity…bullshit.

        For Christ sake, it was a T-shirt. She wasn’t placed in the stocks.

        1. I have them too, so I understand what you mean. The point is that some kids aren’t yet well adjusted enough to handle it, and when do you roll the dice on something like that? Is there another way to make the same point, or even use the same tool. Wouldn’t calling her out for her outfit in front of a few other kids and making her change or go home be a better application of the Spotlight Effect? There is a big difference between telling them that they should never feel uncomfortable and using mass public humiliation as a corrective tool. If the problem is that her clothing was disruptive then this is not the way to address that particular problem. Having her change or leave for the day would address that problem perfectly. This is using her humiliation as a way of sending a message to all the other kids in that school, to instill fear of similar treatment as a preventative measure.

          I, like you, would have owned it if I had found myself in her position. I spent a few school days in my youth wearing an inside out metal t-shirt some teacher didn’t like and flaunted it, but not every kid is there yet.

          To me it comes down to spanking a baby with an ax. Even if the kid can take it it’s a stupid thing to do because of the harm it could do when better alternatives are available.

          I don’t think that refraining from these kids of punishments is an “everyone gets a trophy” thing, just an exercise in common sense.

          1. The point is that some kids aren’t yet well adjusted enough to handle it, and when do you roll the dice on something like that?

            I don’t believe it works like that. I believe kids become adjusted by dealing with adversity and not having the opportunity to deal with it simply makes them thin-skinned.

            Every kid should get publically humiliated, every kid should be yelled at publically, every kid should get into at least one fight in his/her life… Because fearing those things is much, much worse than actually enduring them. After it’s over, you go, that wasn’t so bad, I can deal with such things and be fine. You gain confidence and are much more likely to not be so risk adverse in the future. The world needz moar risk takerz!

            Wouldn’t calling her out for her outfit in front of a few other kids and making her change or go home be a better application of the Spotlight Effect?

            Not sure how getting the rest of the day off is a punishment?

            1. Yeah, I’d be like, can I wear this shirt every day?

          2. Wouldn’t calling her out for her outfit in front of a few other kids and making her change or go home be a better application of the Spotlight Effect?

            And what does the school do when a student claims she had a panic attack and broke into hives as a result of being called out in front of a few other kids and made to change or go home? Or simply sent home to change?

            1. Maybe we can stop pretending and just turn public schools into the prisons that they are. Then they don’t need to be sent anywhere!

        2. Ah, I see. From this and your comments about autism, you obviously have absolutely no direct experience with depression or autism. Having dealt with both on a professional level for years, I can assure you that suicide for people with depression is about a brain disorder. Getting sad because you were humiliated in high school has as much to do with clinical depression as being a badass at Call of Duty has with being a combat veteran.

          Suggesting it’s about “being a pussy,” is to admit to a profound (and strangely proud and loud) ignorance.

          1. I can assure you that suicide for people with depression is about a brain disorder. Getting sad because you were humiliated in high school has as much to do with clinical depression as being a badass at Call of Duty has with being a combat veteran.

            Okay then Les. If clinical depression is a brain disorder we don’t need to worry about little girls being devastated for being forced to wear a T-shirt, then, do we? IOW, humiliation isn’t going to drive them to suicide as was suggested?

            You’ve missed my point in BOTH discussions.

            1. If clinical depression is a brain disorder we don’t need to worry about little girls being devastated for being forced to wear a T-shirt, then, do we?

              You mean, “unless the little girl in question already has that brain chemistry disorder”, right?

              “Hey, living with depression is hard. Let’s turn that up to eleven for you!”

          2. Les, you are attempting to reason with fools.

        3. Bro, women, especially teenage women, take clothes way more seriously then men do. It’s science. High school girls can be unfathomably mean to each other over it.

        4. So in your estimation what kind of T-shirt would have crossed the line? What if the school put her in a shirt that read “Fucking Whore”? What about a shirt that read “I had sexual relations with my brother and all I got was this lousy t-shirt”? What about “Hilary 2016”?

      2. You’re both wrong. Depression is the primary driver for teenage suicide. Mentally healthy people don’t generally try to off themselves.

        That said, it’s just a T shirt. If she had a panic attack there’s probably something else wrong with her.

        1. I said one of, and it is. Depression is number one, and it becomes much more dangerous when additional difficulties are piled on. A depressed kid is in danger, a depressed kid being publicly shamed by his school is in greater danger.

    3. I’d just like to mention that the “punishment” is fucking stupid in that it didn’t even fix the actual ‘problem’. Her skirt was too short… so they made her change her shirt. WTF?

      Admittedly, I’d probably go get my own T-shirt that looked just like the “official” one made and wear it every day, but I still don’t think the school should be forcing kids to wear a dunce cap.

      I’m on board with the “make the school administration wear blaze orange shirts with the inscription ‘I AM AN IDIOT’ printed on them” plan… 😀

  3. Breaking out in hives from wearing a ‘Dress Code Violation’ shirt.

    First world problems.

    1. to the max

      someone should start a web-support-group. then that web support group will be mocked by Tumblr or 4chan or something, and BIG DEALS WILL BE MADE ABOUT IT. And so the cycle of internet-life is complete.

    2. You have no idea how stressful living in the first world is.

  4. Sorry, it’s not just ‘a t-shirt’, it’s one with wording designed, and intended, to shame and humiliate. That’s what it’s for.

    And the BS about FERPA is just that. The shirt, with its wording, is, I’m afraid, an ‘education record’, and requires the parent’s and child’s assent to be made public. It’s no different from publishing grades on your door. I know we used to do that, but it’s been illegal since 1974.

    Of course, there are virtually no consequences to violating FERPA, but still, this was just another instance of school administrators with no sense of how to behave.

    Maybe we can make them wear T-shirts that say ‘I’m a principle and have no idea how to treat children properly. Hire me!’

    1. The world is full of pussies. God forbid we are ever faced with a real disaster…it won’t go well for most.

      1. “..it won’t go well for most.”

        Adversity often brings out hidden strengths and resources in people. Let’s them sort out what their priorities are. You underestimate the spine-strengthening qualities of a real disaster.

        1. This story being evidence to the contrary.

          1. This isn’t a real disaster. It’s more of a tempest in a teapot. Reserve your judgment and don’t be too hasty in writing people off.

      2. Between the pussies and loud ignoramuses, who knows how we’ll survive?

          1. Stop yelling. I’m breaking out in hives!

    2. Why should a 15 year old girl wearing a short skirt be shamed and humiliated? The punishment simply doesn’t fit the “crime.”

  5. broke out in hives, and called her mother crying from the school bathroom.

    Was she severely disciplined for using her cell phone inside the school building during classroom hours? That’s got to be some sort of “quality of life” crime.

  6. They may not have explained that to Larkin, though

    “Put this on, you little slut.”

  7. I can’t calibrate my outrage meter until I know what font was printed on the t-shirt.

    /hipster

  8. I think it is complete and utter bullshit that they forced her to wear that, Fuck this conformity bs.

    1. So, what rules and punishments would you find acceptable in public school, if any?

      1. None. Well that’s not true he’s definitely support a rule making cheerleaders date nerdy guys.

  9. an insane punishment that gave the girl a panic attack, according to her mother.

    Larkin was embarrassed?it was, after all, only her third day at a new school?broke out in hives, and called her mother crying from the school bathroom.

    It never ceases to amaze me how powerful our built-in-monkey-brain tribalism can be. Fit in or your own mind will try to destroy you.

    At least until you grow up enough. A lot of kids I knew would have proudly worn the shirt with an attitude.

    1. A lot of kids I knew would have proudly worn the shirt with an attitude.

      Me, for one.

  10. The single most important lesson (the only lesson that really matters) being taught in public school is, “You are the property of government agents. Resistance is futile.”

  11. Public school is not the place to dress like a harlot. This is so much of ‘she doth protest too much’.

    1. Cytotoxic, you idiot, you are making an assumption not supported by any facts. Typical for morons like you.

    2. Where would the appropriately approved place to dress like a harlot?

  12. Public school is not the place to dress like a harlot.

    Put the nasty little cock teasers in burkas. Make them attend all-girl schools, just to be safe.

    1. Oh ha ha. Actually, gender segregation is probably a good idea.

      1. What about segregation is a good idea? I learned way more about socialization in high school than I did about the subjects they were supposedly teaching, so it wasn’t a total waste of time

        1. I think you inadvertently answered your own question. What is the main purpose of school, learning subjects or learning to socialize?

  13. Let’s also force all teachers and administrators who score low on their performance evaluations wear bright yellow t-shirts with the wording, “I AM A DUMB SHIT WHO WASTED TAXPAYER MONEY LAST YEAR.” Then we’ll see if public humiliation is a good idea

    1. That’s actually a pretty good idea.

      In the Navy, every carrier landing an aviator does is graded and the results posted for all to see. Someone is first. Someone is last (and rightfully humiliated). They bust their ass not to be last. The result is better overall performance.

      Competition works.

      1. “Competition works.”

        Good connections work even better. Ask Senator McCain.

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  15. Am I the only one that went to school with a bunch of kids that would have TRIED to get to wear that shirt as a sign of rebellion? This would have lasted about 2 weeks before they gave up – because it worked the opposite of how they expected.

    1. Yeah, my first reaction too: where can I get one?

    2. Back in my day (tenish years ago) they just made us wear gym clothes. Of course you could give any excuse at that point, fell in the mud or ripped your jeans, but the chicks looked damn fine in those shorts.

    3. I was just thinking the same thing NAP. My school would have gone broke buying and passing out t-shirts.

  16. So they made her wear the t-shirt while still wearing her too-short skirt? Presumably the reason for having a rule that skirts can’t be too short is because they could be distracting to other students and/or increase risk of bullying/harassment. Having her wear the shirt just makes sure EVERYONE notices her short skirt, thus completely defeats the purpose of the dress code.

    Unless, of course, the true purpose of the dress code is to give school officials an excuse to assert their authority over students.

    1. Is the concept that some rules promote future compliance completely alien to you?

      1. It certainly is all about compliance these days.

  17. When a student violates dress code where I teach, we give them choices. Change into appropriate dress or wear surgical scrubs. We have tops and bottoms. The t-shirt in this particular case is a travesty.

    1. Damn! Pajamas all day? I’d break the code every day.

  18. I am not driving to school to protect my kid from a tshirt.

  19. isn’t that a form of bullying?

  20. Please sell these t-shirts in the Reason shop. Thanks.

    1. Only if the banner girl models them.

  21. Do you know who else violated the dress code?

    1. Ernst Rohm?

  22. If everyone already knew the prison orange shirts represented dress code violations then the words on them were redundant. The administrators’ argument is therefore idiotic.

    Also, people like Francisco supporting state funded morality police because “pussies” can go lick Palin’s buttplug clean between insertions.

  23. So basically they didn’t bother telling her about the rules, then punished her for violating those rules in a way that violates federal law as well as the right to due process. They also failed to explain the alternatives she could choose other than the maximum punishment.

    School Policies < Ordinances < State Statutes < Federal Statutes < Constitution

    So in an effort to teach students to follow the rules, the school ignored every rule they themselves are required to obey?

    1. *So basically they didn’t bother telling her about the rules*

      I find this part difficult to believe. They probably gave her some 500 page book that she either didn’t have time to read or was too busy Facebooking all night long and didn’t take the time to read.

      1. I do a bit of education related law, so I doubt that was the case. More likely the dress code was vague and ambiguous – “No clothing that distracts from the educational process will be allowed.” Although it’s possible they specified the permitted length of a girl’s skirt I doubt it. It’s the very vagueness and ambiguity that allows them to enforce the policy so arbitrarily.

        I might be wrong, but I doubt it. I also doubt the policy of having to put on the t-shirt is in the school handbook.

  24. I think someone should have several hundred of these shirts printed up and all students should come to school wearing them to show what they think of the school’s rules.

  25. my best friend’s sister-in-law makes $73 an hour on the internet . She has been without a job for ten months but last month her pay check was $20997 just working on the internet for a few hours. why not find out more …..

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  26. Rush was right! (No, not the tubby druggie.) “Conform or be cast out!”

    We seem to put too much weight into dress codes… especially when much of the business world has way more lenient codes than the schools.

    I’m okay with school uniforms (until it gets to the point that the outfits get too expensive), but it seems like the school board’s definition of the “real world” that these dress codes are supposed to prepare students for hasn’t been in existence since the 80s at the very latest. Bare legs and shoulders, tattoos, crazy hair color – those aren’t as scandalous as they used to be, and hardly a distraction. Besides, if there’s one thing that students need to learn, it’s staying focused on your work despite distractions. THAT’S one thing that’s always present in the real world.

    I can only hope to try and nurture a thick skin on my kids. My son, who’s about to turn 11, seems to be doing OK in dealing with ridicule, though I suspect he needs a little more help. My daughter, who’ll be in kindergarten next year, already has Alpha Bitch tendencies, so maybe she’ll have less emotional problems (relatively speaking).

  27. Donning the shirt of shame would be my option either that or the puffy shirt.

  28. As a former homeschool student who has gone to public school only twice in her life, I think it is unfair for new students to not be given proper information about school policy. I mean, how short was “too short”? An inch, two inches? How did they determine such a thing? Did they take her aside and measure her skirt? What is this, the 1950/60s?

    I had a panic attack too when a teacher pinched my ear and screamed into it to keep my eyes on my own paper. Apparently looking out the window searching for an answer to a test question is considered cheating…according to school policy at the time.

    I think it’s asinine and that the school treated the student unfairly by not laying out their rules of conduct and dress. My opinion – public school is prison, students are prisoners, they have no right to ask questions or seek truth without punishment.

  29. Kid needs to suck it up. Wear the shirt with pride.

    Asinine school officials need their ass kicked.

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  35. “Administrators disagreed that the shirt of shame violated FERPA”

    Of course they did. Now let’s see if they can convince a judge.

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