TODAY   |  September 30, 2012

Father's online ‘shaming’ of toddler: Cute or cruel?

After a 3-year-old accidentally went to the toilet in the shower, her dad posted a photo of her online with a “shame” sign around her neck. Some parents have called it humiliation, while others disagree, calling it discipline. NBC's Gabe Gutierrez reports.

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>>> is it cute or is it cruel? a father's online post of his toddler has parents debating the issue and asking about public sharing in a digital age. here is nbc.

>> reporter: little did this 3-year-old know when she decided to go to the bathroom in the shower that it would end up on the internet. after cleaning up the mess, her dad posted this picture online that sparked a huge debate among parents over whether public punishment is going too far.

>> i'm looking at this as a humiliation that will keep on humiliati humiliating.

>> reporter: one person online called the dad a truly horrible parent. but another wrote, it's just like dog shaming but with kids. too cute.

>> do you know about the trash?

>> reporter: it's hard to imagine that online photos of pets will hurt many feelings --

>> this right here is my .45.

>> reporter: but earlier this year a north carolina father shot his daughter's laptop nine times after he said she was disrespectful. he then uploaded the va for the world to see. in canton, ohio, this month one mother made her two kids stand on a busy street holding up this sign. and years ago in park city , utah, another woman made her 10-year-old wave a similar poster after she said he was caught stealing from seven stores.

>> it's not okay to sit a child out there and humiliate him in public.

>> reporter: other parents might di disagree calling it not humiliation but discipline. we reached out to the father and didn't hear back, but whether the online response might change his behavior is anyone's guess. for "today" gabe gutierrez, nbc news.