The ‘root’ of problem is respect, not discipline

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 5, 2000

It’s a good plan, but we doubt it will work.

Administrators with the Natchez-Adams School District are proposing a new approach to handling the ever-increasing discipline problems -&160;in-school detention.

Their reasoning is simple: the punishment of suspending students from school isn’t effective. The suspended students rarely learn to replace the negative behavior that caused the problem with a positive one. And, to complicate the problems, the out-of-school suspensions remove students from the learning environment – often the students who can least afford to lose a day in that environment.

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As one principal said, &uot;We were not getting to the root of what was causing the problem.&uot;

Instead, administrators and school pyschologists are proposing an in-school detention plan that includes removing students from classrooms in a tiered system that ranges from brief stays in another classroom to full-fledged in-school detention.

The root of the problem, though, isn’t exposure to a learning environment. The problem is exposure to the concept of respect.

We believe that the majority of discipline problems that teachers and administrators face these days can be traced to students’ innate lack of respect – for teachers, for rules, for their classmates, even for themselves. And it doesn’t matter if you punish the resulting behavior with suspension or try and retrain students’ to learn more positive behaviors.

What the students really need is a lesson in respect -&160;a lesson that can be taught only by parents and family members; by friends and pastors; and even by teachers and administrators.

Ultimately, the lessons in respect can be taught only by example and will be reinforced only by demand.

Anything else is, as one administrator said, simply a Band-Aid.