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A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life

The Feared Unacknowledged Reasons for School Discipline Problems

Students misbehave for one or more of three reasons:

(1) A child's ability to control their thinking and behavior derive from basic ego capacities which form within the first three years of life. Their adequate development derives from a healthy interaction with their parents. Inadequate parenting causes weakness of these crucial abilities and the later inability to function in line with chronological maturity.

2. Students with emotional problems will be intermittently uncooperative. Schools, with exception, are clueless about coping with their difficulties and for good reason: teachers are trained to teach, not to operate a therapeutic environment.

3. School principals who do not take discipline seriously, by quickly intervening against bullying or other uncivil behavior, send the implicit message that these are not serious issues. Both students and staff soon get this message and student achievement deteriorates.

While these issues are not easily addressed, ignoring them by adopting the false explanations of prejudice or inadequate school funding will make this impossible.

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