How have suspensions helped school discipline?

March 2, 2010
Suspension seems to have become a preferable punishment for administrators all across our nation. Suspension enables the people holding positions of power at schools to ignore the labeled problem children. As long as these students are outside school walls, they are out of sight and therefore out of the mind. By prohibiting the attendance of these students, what is really gained? Suspension lowers students’ motivation to succeed and pushes them on a path towards jail.

Some may believe that after serving a term of suspension, the student will receive the punishment as a wake-up call and change their ways. Wouldn’t it be lovely if that actually happened? Instead of providing a motivation to succeed, suspensions supply students with a feeling of rejection and anger for authority. What do teens do when they are deemed unwanted by the school system? They search the streets for people who will accept them, often turning to gangs. They also begin to focus their feelings of rage towards the school authorities, setting them up for a future of repetitive disciplinary problems.

This feeling of rejection and anger for authority sends teens on the track for jail. Once a student has been suspended, they are commonly labeled as problem children. When a label is placed on a person for a long period of time, it is what they become. Because others have lost all hope in them, they begin to lose hope in themselves. They begin to feel it is impossible for them to live a “normal” life. They make do with the acceptance they may have gained on the street, and would rather die than have that acceptance taken away.

When a school suspends a child they are basically sending them away because they don’t have the slightest clue on how to deal with them. Some parents also use this tactic, kicking their children out of the house when the teen has made a mistake. In both scenarios, a teen is being turned away and rejected during the time period when acceptance is needed the most. Is it possible to turn your life around when you experience constant rejection from society?

Instead of using suspension as a way of punishment, why not use ISS or volunteer work? In school suspension maintains the safety aspect of the school while also preventing the student from falling behind in their school work. In high school especially, make-up work can pile up fast. When a student does return to school they can easily become overwhelmed, resulting in a feeling of hopelessness. So, when a student has been suspended for a long period of time and lack the time to catch up failure can result. ISS can prevent class failures bringing the student closer to graduation.

Volunteer work would serve as a learning experience as well as giving them a sense of belonging to their community. Students could be required to volunteer in jails, homeless shelters, or even drug rehabilitation centers. This would provide the students with a glimpse of what they could become if they keep making bad decisions.

Personally, I am tired of seeing the down fall of my fellow students aided by suspensions and disciplinary negligence. This punishment provides no benefits to the students or the school. This short term fix only causes long term issues. Instead of choosing the easiest way to deal with disciplinary issues, why not put a little more thoughts into the punishments for long term solutions?





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oracle-of-nonsense This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 29, 2010 at 7:58 pm
I definitely agree that OSS is a completely backward way of disciplining kids, mostly because they'll just go have fun with their "days off" and because they're missing school, which, in some cases, could actually cause them to fail classes, as you mentioned. I think you may have exaggerated the feelings of rejection experienced by these kids as a result, and you might want to have more factual evidence for the bit about it sending them on the path to jail, but aside from that, this was a well-w... (more »)
 
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