Published Online: March 5, 2013
Published in Print: March 6, 2013, as Pediatricians Criticize Harsh Discipline Codes

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Pediatricians Criticize Harsh Discipline Codes

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Schools are too quick to suspend students or expel them and need to take a hard look at those "drastic" policies, the American Academy of Pediatrics said last week, building on a previous position paper published six years ago that questioned zero-tolerance discipline policies.

The newest statement also outlines ways pediatricians can help identify and intervene if children have behavior problems, and instructs children's doctors to champion policies that emphasize prevention strategies and alternatives to out-of-school suspension and expulsion.

The 60,000-member academy says discipline policies that call for ejecting students from school have been shown not to improve school safety, but the effect on students can be profound.

To prevent behavior problems from arising and reduce the use of suspension and expulsion, the group recommends early identification of at-risk children, intervention before problem behaviors occur, and implementation of clearly articulated and carefully taught age-appropriate codes of conduct with stated alternatives.

Vol. 32, Issue 23, Page 4

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