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Discipline before restoration

New York Teacher

In 2018, 10 percent of public-school teachers were threatened with injury by a student and 6 percent nationwide were physically attacked by a student. This comes from a federal report called “Indicators of School Crime and Safety.” That information is from an article, “When Work Hurts,” by John Rosales in NEA Today. Tom Nicholas, a Connecticut school social worker, reported being hit or kicked 15 times in just one month. I was punched by a student while doing lunch duty and suffered a split lip in 1993. I was threatened, pushed or grabbed at least a dozen times in my career, and never felt supported by administrators. Student-to-student threats or violence were usually handled with verbal warnings. It was rare to see the perpetrator face proper consequences. What should be done about violence in schools?

Today, New York City schools are teaching self-awareness and restorative practices to get students to understand and take responsibility for their actions. This is an excellent improvement, but it comes at the expense of any consequences. Thus, I saw many repeat offenders who had no fear of being disciplined. Many teachers were cursed at, threatened and had objects thrown at them, and the student was in class with them the next day more brazen than before. I saw and heard evidence of bullying, with the victim getting more fearful and despondent, while the bully was merely counseled. Discipline must come before restoration.

Gregg Freedner, retired

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