|Back to Mar. Ed Reporter|
|NUMBER 230||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||MARCH 2005|
|School Violence Declines, But Discipline Remains a Challenge|
Anti-crime measures by schools may be partly responsible, including installing metal detectors, hiring more security personnel, and implementing programs against bullying.
The report also found that from 1992 to 2000, students ages 5 to 19 were 70 times more likely to be murdered away from school than on campus.
Recent examples of shocking school crimes include:
In surveys of high school students, large majorities say they often hear cursing in the hallways; more than a third say there is a serious fight at least once a month; and barely one in five says most classmates treat teachers with respect. Nearly 8 out of 10 teachers say students are quick to remind them that they have rights and their parents can sue. Nearly half say that a parent has accused them of unfairly disciplining a child. (Education Week, 6-23-04)
A Rochester, NY elementary school teacher was placed on paid leave last year for washing a 3rd-grade boy's mouth out with soap after he shouted what the teacher described as "a vile, very nasty sexual reference" at a classmate. More than 40 relatives of children in the class asked that the teacher be reinstated. (Associated Press, 6-11-04)
Legal difficulties remain, and not only with special education students. Since two U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the mid-1970s, even low-level punishments are subject to student and parental challenges in court, and if public school teachers or principals knowingly violate a student's due process rights, they may be held personally liable for monetary damages.
According to a Harris poll, 85% of teachers and principals believe that reducing the availability of legal challenges to day-to-day management and disciplinary decisions would help improve the quality of education in their schools. (National Review, 10-11-04)
Don't expect corporal punishment to make a comeback. A candidate for a master's degree in education was apparently expelled by LeMoyne College for writing a paper advocating the use of corporal punishment in schools. He received an A- for the paper on classroom management but was barred from enrolling for the spring semester. (The Daily Orange, 1-25-05)
Dodgeball is banned in some schools in Maine, Maryland, New York, Virginia, Texas, Massachusetts and Utah. Last November, a New York appellate court refused to dismiss a lawsuit that claims a school wronged a 7-year-old girl by allowing dodgeball. The girl broke her elbow. (Associated Press, 11-20-04)
In some California school districts, dodgeball, tag, and cops and robbers are forbidden. Even pushing a fellow student on a swing may be considered too dangerous. Fear of lawsuits may be one of the motivating factors. (sacbee.com, 8-22-04) Such policies may also reflect the modern trend toward eliminating competition. (See Briefs.)