Schools have the responsibility of providing students a safe, supportive, and conducive environments for education. Classroom disruptions, bullying, hazing and other activities interfere with this and deter students from schoolwork. Therefore, the administration of the school should take an active role in enforcing discipline in their schools and provide the students with an environment appropriate for learning activities. This should not come at a cost to the students in terms of their freedom and social wellbeing, however. The discipline program should address the students’ need at a schoolwide, classroom and individual level to ensure their safety and that they feel represented by the school when they need assistance. Schools should also aim to help troubled students instead of simply punishing them and increase the involvement of the parents in order to facilitate a wholesome educational environment for students. Schools employ various techniques of enforcing discipline, some which are effective and others less so.
The environment of a school has an impact on the behaviour of its students. Schools that encourage discipline actively and foster a positive environment at the classroom level see fewer disciplinary incidents. The implicit idea is that by teaching and showing students what can be achieved by positive interactions and cooperation in well-managed classroom activities creates and instils an idea of self-discipline in the students. Schools encourage this especially in the lower grades and can be seen in private schools or schools such as catholic high schools Brisbane. Most public institutions unfortunately do not have the required training and capital to invest in this endeavour, however.
Self-discipline should be encouraged by the school administration starting at the teachers, who the students view as role models. Teachers should lead in promoting interaction among students and handling conflicts with civility. This is a preventive method for encouraging discipline which tends to be more effective than reactive measures such as punitive discipline.
This refers to enforcing discipline by punishing the students responsible with suspensions, detention and even expulsion. This is notably less effective than preventive measures. Although it may create an overall reduction in disciplinary incidents, the children who undergo punishment are more likely to drop out of the school and it may result in certain students being disproportionately punished. Punishments may be given out of trivial cases such as dress codes or minor disruptions which may create the view that students are being treated unfairly by the school. Approaching discipline with punitive methods can therefore often create an overall negative disciplinary environment in the school.
Zero tolerance policies are a notoriously ineffective approach to discipline that is still practised in some institutions. It refers to the use of policies and practices which detail predetermined punishments which are often severe and widespread, meaning that almost everyone involved in an incident is punished to some extent. It also infamously punishes students who fight back against bullies which often results in the victim of the bullying incident being punished more than the student who instigated the incident.