Do Children Deserve Detention? by Grace Pires

Over three million American students were given detention in 2012 alone. In other words, students spent millions of hours in detention—hours that could have been spent studying, playing with friends or in the company of family. Most American schools follow a system of punitive justice, where students who misbehave are given some form of punishment that administrators believe fits the crime. Whether the punishment is something as simple as a timeout or as drastic as an expulsion, these methods can have lasting effects on a child. Human self-esteem is undoubtedly affected by the ways in which we interact with others. If a young student is frequently berated by teachers, there could be serious psychological consequences.

Unfortunately, there is also a racist element to punitive justice in schools. Black students are more likely to be given punishments than their white counterparts, which can have serious, long-lasting effects on a student’s future. Students begin to misbehave more frequently, which can lead to an onslaught of problems like more punishment, poor academic performance, and even incarceration. Frequent detentions and suspensions in school can be the first steps along the “pipeline to prison,” a phenomenon that often affects lower-class and/or minority students.

Schools are not meant to be prisons, nor are they meant to prepare children for prison. Oftentimes, misbehavior can be a result of a troubled home-life, lack of attention, or other serious causes. Teachers and administrators need to sympathize with students, especially when they’re simply young children. The role of school in a child’s life is to educate and prepare them for the world. If a student spends most of their time being punished, they won’t be able learn from their mistakes. That’s why our schools need to switch to restorative justice systems. All children deserve to have opportunities to learn from their mistakes.

Posted: February 11, 2018 in: Child Poverty, Criminal Justice Reform

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