School discipline
School discipline is the system of rules, punishments and behavioral strategies appropriate to the regulation of child
Biologically, a child is generally a human between the stages of birth and puberty. Some vernacular definitions of a child include the fetus, as being an unborn child. The legal definition of "child" generally refers to a minor, otherwise known as a person younger than the age of majority...

ren and the maintenance of order in school
A school is an institution designed for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most countries have systems of formal education, which is commonly compulsory. In these systems, students progress through a series of schools...

s. Its aim is to control the students actions and behavior.

An obedient student is in compliance with the school rules and codes of conduct. These rules may, for example, define the expected standards of clothing
Clothing refers to any covering for the human body that is worn. The wearing of clothing is exclusively a human characteristic and is a feature of nearly all human societies...

, timekeeping, social behaviour and work ethic. The term discipline is also applied to the punishment that is the consequence of breaking the rules.
The aim of discipline is to set limits restricting certain behaviors seen as harmful.

Corporal punishment

Throughout the history of education
History of education
The history of education its part of the past and present teaching and learning. Each generation, since the beginning of human existence, has sought to pass on cultural and social values, traditions, morality, religion and skills to the next generation. The passing on of culture is also known as...

 the most common means of maintaining discipline in schools was corporal punishment. While a child was in school, a teacher was expected to act as a substitute parent
In loco parentis
The term in loco parentis, Latin for "in the place of a parent"" refers to the legal responsibility of a person or organization to take on some of the functions and responsibilities of a parent...

, with many forms of parental discipline or rewards open to them. This often meant that students were commonly chastised with the birch
Birching is a corporal punishment with a birch rod, typically applied to the recipient's bare buttocks, although occasionally to the back and/or shoulders.-Implement:...

, cane
Caning is a form of corporal punishment consisting of a number of hits with a single cane usually made of rattan, generally applied to the offender's bare or clothed buttocks or hand . Application of a cane to the knuckles or the shoulders has been much less common...

, paddle
Paddle (spanking)
A spanking paddle is an implement used to strike a person on the buttocks. The act of striking a person with a paddle is known as "paddling". A paddling may be for punishment , or as an initiation or hazing ritual, or for erotic purposes.A paddle has two parts: a handle and a blade...

 or strap
Strapping (punishment)
Strapping refers to the use of a strap as an implement of corporal punishment. It is typically a broad and heavy strip of leather, often with a hard handle, the more flexible 'blade' being applied to the offender....

 if they did something wrong.

Corporal punishment in schools has now disappeared from most Western countries, including all European countries. Thirty U.S. states have banned it, the others (mostly in the South
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

) have not. Paddling is still used to a significant (though declining) degree in some public schools in Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

, Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

, Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

, Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

, Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

, Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

, Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

 and Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

. Private schools in these and most other states may also use it, though many choose not to do so.

Official corporal punishment, often by caning
Caning is a form of corporal punishment consisting of a number of hits with a single cane usually made of rattan, generally applied to the offender's bare or clothed buttocks or hand . Application of a cane to the knuckles or the shoulders has been much less common...

, remains commonplace in schools in some Asian, African and Caribbean countries.

Most mainstream schools in most other countries retain punishment for misbehaviour, but it usually takes non-corporal forms such as detention and suspension.

Modern methods

School discipline practices are generally informed by theory from psychologists and educators. There are a number of theories to form a comprehensive discipline strategy for an entire school or a particular class.
  • Positive Approach is grounded in teachers' respect for students. Instills in students a sense of responsibility by using youth/adult partnerships to develop and share clear rules, provide daily opportunities for success, and administer in-school suspension for noncompliant students. Based on Glasser's Reality Therapy
    Reality Therapy
    Reality therapy is an approach to psychotherapy and counseling. It was developed by the psychiatrist Dr. William Glasser in 1965. Reality therapy is considered a cognitive-behavioural approach to treatment ....

    . Research (e.g., Allen) is generally supportive of the PAD program.

  • Teacher Effectiveness Training differentiates between teacher-owned and student-owned problems, and proposes different strategies for dealing with each. Students are taught problem-solving and negotiation techniques. Researchers (e.g., Emmer and Aussiker) find that teachers like the programme and that their behaviour is influenced by it, but effects on student behaviour are unclear.

  • Adlerian
    Pertaining to the theory and practice of Alfred Adler , whose school of psychoanalysis is called Individual Psychology . Central to the Adlerian approach is to see the personality as a whole and not as the mere net result of component forces. Thus the term individual psychology...

    is an umbrella term for a variety of methods which emphasize understanding the individual's reasons for maladaptive behavior and helping misbehaving students to alter their behavior, while at the same time finding ways to get their needs met. Named for psychiatrist Alfred Adler
    Alfred Adler
    Alfred Adler was an Austrian medical doctor, psychotherapist, and founder of the school of individual psychology. In collaboration with Sigmund Freud and a small group of Freud's colleagues, Adler was among the co-founders of the psychoanalytic movement as a core member of the Vienna...

    . These approaches have shown some positive effects on self-concept, attitudes, and locus of control, but effects on behavior are inconclusive (Emmer and Aussiker). Not only were the statistics on suspensions and vandalism significant, but also the recorded interview of teachers demonstrates the improvement in student attitude and behaviour, school atmosphere, academic performance, and beyond that, personal and professional growth.

  • The Student Responsibility Center (SRC) discipline process was evaluated for effectiveness in five participating K-12 public schools. SRC was evaluated in terms of meeting the six systems-thinking criteria, the number of suspensions and/or expulsions, the number of discipline referrals to the SRC classroom, and the perceptions of the learning community concerning the use of this discipline process. Examination of data collected from the one-on-one interviews and school staff questionnaires suggested that the SRC discipline process did result in a decrease in suspensions and expulsions and discipline referrals. In addition, the analysis of data indicated that there were positive Learning Community perceptions concerning the discipline process. The finding are congruent with effective schools research and school sites should continuously assess, intervene, and monitor the discipline process to ensure the Learning Community is consistently following the processes' elements and characteristics to accomplish the goal of reducing disruptive behavior overall.

  • Appropriate school learning theory and educational philosophy is a strategy for preventing violence and promoting order and discipline in schools, put forward by educational philosopher Daniel Greenberg
    Daniel Greenberg (educator)
    Daniel A. Greenberg , one of the founders of the Sudbury Valley School, has published several books on the Sudbury model of school organization, and has been described by Sudbury Valley School trustee Peter Grey as the "principal philosopher" among its founders...

     and practised by the Sudbury Valley School
    Sudbury Valley School
    The Sudbury Valley School was founded in 1968 in Framingham, Massachusetts, United States. There are now over 30 schools based on the Sudbury Model in the United States, Denmark, Israel, Japan, Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. The model has two basic tenets: educational freedom and democratic...



Detention is one of the most common punishments in schools in the United States, Britain, Ireland, Singapore, Canada, Australia and some other countries. It requires the pupil to remain in school during a specified time on a school day (such as lunch, recess or after school) -- or even to attend school on a non-school day, e.g. "Saturday detention" at some US and UK schools. In the UK, the Education Act 1997 obliges a school to give parents at least 24 hours' notice of a detention outside school hours.


Suspension or temporary exclusion is mandatory leave assigned to a student as a form of punishment that can last anywhere from one day to several weeks, during which time the student cannot attend regular lessons. The student's parents/guardians are notified of the reason for and duration of the out-of-school suspension. Sometimes students have to complete work during their suspensions, for which they receive no credit. In American schools there are often two types of suspension: In-School Suspension (ISS) and Out-of-School Suspension (OSS). In-school suspension requires the student to report to school as normal but sit in a special room all day. Out-of-school suspension bars the student from being on school grounds.


Exclusion, expulsion, withdrawing or permanent exclusion is the removal of a student permanently from the school. This is the ultimate last resort, when all other methods of discipline have failed. However, in extreme situations, it may also be used for a single offense. Some education authorities have a nominated school in which all excluded students are collected; this typically has a much higher staffing level than mainstream schools. In some US public schools, expulsions and exclusions are so serious that they require an appearance before the Board of Education. In the UK, head teachers may make the decision to exclude, but the student's parents have the right of appeal to the local education authority. This has proved controversial in cases where the head teacher's decision has been overturned (and his or her authority thereby undermined), and there are proposals to abolish the right of appeal.

Expulsion from a private school is a more straightforward matter, since the school can merely terminate its contract with the parents.

See also

  • Adultism
    Adultism has been defined as "the power adults have over children". More narrowly, 'adultism is prejudice and accompanying systematic discrimination against young people'...

  • Assertive discipline
    Assertive discipline
    Assertive discipline is an approach to classroom management developed by Lee and Marlene Canter. It involves a high level of teacher control in the class. It is also called the "take-control" approach to teaching, as the teacher controls their classroom in a firm but positive manner...

  • Child discipline
    Child discipline
    Child discipline is the set of rules, rewards and punishments administered to teach self control, increase desirable behaviors and decrease undesirable behaviors in children. In its most general sense, discipline refers to systematic instruction given to a disciple. To discipline thus means to...

  • Corporal punishment
    Corporal punishment
    Corporal punishment is a form of physical punishment that involves the deliberate infliction of pain as retribution for an offence, or for the purpose of disciplining or reforming a wrongdoer, or to deter attitudes or behaviour deemed unacceptable...

  • Emotional abuse
  • Positive behavior support
    Positive behavior support
    Positive behavior support strives to use a system to understand what maintains an individual's challenging behavior. Students' inappropriate behaviors are difficult to change because they are functional; they serve a purpose for the child. These behaviors are supported by reinforcement in the...

  • Positive Discipline
    Positive Discipline
    Positive Discipline is a discipline model used by schools that focuses on the positive points of behaviour. Some practitioners believe that educators should act with a philosophy that there are no bad children, just good and bad behaviors. You can teach and reinforce the good behaviors while...

  • School district drug policies
    School district drug policies
    School district drug policies are measures that administrators of a school district put into place to discourage drug use by students.-Background:...

  • Zero Tolerance
    Zero tolerance
    Zero tolerance imposes automatic punishment for infractions of a stated rule, with the intention of eliminating undesirable conduct. Zero-tolerance policies forbid persons in positions of authority from exercising discretion or changing punishments to fit the circumstances subjectively; they are...


External links

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