Should schools still use detention?
Detention may not be the best form of discipline, suggests Nawaal Dreyer.
"Mommy please can you sign this- I have to go to detention this afternoon." The official note on the school letterhead was dated 3 days ago! “What did you do?” I asked, forgetting to ask where the note had been for the past 3 days.

It was the 2nd week of the first term, new school and new grade.

Overreactive teachers?

Turned out he had forgotten to paste notes in his book, despite being reminded about it, and the teacher, on her last functioning nerve, had torn up the notes and sentenced him to an hour after school. He had, in a bout of adolescent Alzheimer’s, forgotten to give me the note.

Now I have absolutely no problem with discipline but this was a bit ridiculous. Sure he needed to take responsibility for the notes printed and handed to him but detention!

Let the punishment fit the crime

Whilst I appreciate that schools have to have a system in place to deal with errant learners, in this instance, making him paste the notes in his book whilst watching him would have sufficed. Needless to say he had a marvellous time in detention and made lots of friends from higher grades.

A little parent pop-survey showed that most schools still have detention, some well-managed and others not at all.

Demerit system

At one school, instead of immediate detention, children were immediately issued with 25 merits and, as quickly, the merits dissolved and demerits appeared. Once the demerits had run out (and they were for minor things like leaving a book at home), the child would then be sent to detention the next afternoon. Even late-coming earned a detention – I’m sure just to further frustrate the parent. These children were given a specific task to complete whilst in detention and this was then checked the next day.

Potential dangers of detention

One parent relayed the story of his child that had been kept in detention on the same day of his offence, missed his bus, had to take a taxi which dropped him away from his normal route and was mugged less than 100 metres from his front door. Needless to say the parent was irate and more so as he was completely unaware of what had happened until he got home.
He is still fighting with the school with regard to their policy as well as the education department.

Time for active parenting

I have been reminded we sign our lives, and, by default, our children’s lives away when we agree to these draconian school policies when we enrol our children in schools, and one way that we can get rid of these policies or propose methods of sentencing our children for misdeeds is to become more active parents by getting involved with the governing bodies of our schools.

Having a child is like putting your hand in a lucky packet: you never quite know what you are going to get when you have a child, or exactly what they’re going to do to make you wonder if they could possibly have been swopped at birth.  No matter how difficult your child may be, however, it’s vital to take an active role in their schooling and discipline.

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What would you suggest is the best form of discipline for school kids?

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