School discipline: Is there a crisis in our schools?

Year: 1999

Author: Fields, Barry

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Along with literacy and numeracy achievement levels, school discipline ranks as one of the major concerns voiced by the public about schools and the school system. These concerns are echoed in frequent and often dramatic media reports of disruptive students, bullying, and violence in classrooms and playgrounds across the country. There is a continuing, and some would say growing perception that behaviour problems are endemic in schools, that teachers are struggling to maintain order, and that school authorities are unable to guarantee the safety of students or teachers.

This paper examines research on discipline problems and violence in schools in Britain, the United States, and Australia. This analysis reveals that schools are not in crisis, and violence is quite rare. The role of the media in fostering a distorted view of discipline in schools and contributing to hastily conceived and often inappropriate responses and misdirected resource allocation is the focus of critical review.