Student Discipline and Alleviating Criminal Behavior in the Inner City

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It is reasonable to assume that sound student-discipline practices and methods of alleviating criminal behavior are grounded in a sound philosophy. Developing individual locus of control through comprehensive methods is a proactive approach to encouraging behavior modification in or outside the school building. This approach is consonant with the philosophy espoused by pragmatists such as John Dewey and several scholars of motivational theory. Within this context, student-discipline policies in one inner-city elementary school were developed through seminar and focus group sessions comprising education and social work professors, university students, and education/social work practitioners. Emanating from these discussions are solutions (supported by the literature) to school violence and discipline problems within urban school systems which are comparatively different from remedies suggested by a citywide (St. Louis) violence task force. Recommendations are based on an interactionist theory of student discipline and viewing the school as an integrative process promoting internal control. Suggestions include holding high expectations of all students, coaching for self-discipline, modeling appropriate behaviors, multisystem and multisector involvement, home-school linkages, and viewing “teaching” as an art.

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