TOWNSVILLE, Australia, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- Residents of an Australian city said a mother forced her young son to sit in public wearing Shrek ears and a sign proclaiming him to be "a thief."
Witnesses said the boy, who appeared to be about 10 years old, spent nearly an hour Sunday sitting near a Townsville water park wearing the ears and the sign while his family ate lunch nearby, The (Sydney) Daily Telegraph reported Monday.
"Do not trust me. I will steal from you as I am a thief," the boy's sign read.
Diane Mayers, who has worked with Child Safety Services in the past, said she was so "horrified" when she saw the boy that she immediately notified the department.
"A lot of people walked past and were laughing at him, including boys who would have been his age," Mayers said. "At one point, the boy had taken off the Shrek ears. My daughter walked past and heard the mother say, 'Put them back on or I'll smack your head in.'"
Mayers said she feared the long-term effects from the public humiliation would be worse than the potential effects from physical abuse.