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School's 'Reverse Suspension' Policy On Trend with Parents Paying for Kids' Mistakes

The Short of It

An inventive new form of punishment for students that includes their parents has greatly cut down on bad behavior in one West Virginia school. And it's not the only school to start having parents pay for their kids' mistakes.

The Lowdown

At Huntington East Middle School, parents of students who commit non-violent, non-verbally abusive behavior are offered the option of so-called "reverse suspension," which is when a parent spends the day by their child's side at school. According to The Blaze, Principal Frank Barnett said this alternative to sending students home has cut down on suspensions by two-thirds and cut bad behavior incidents by half.

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So why is "reverse suspension" effective?

As one mom, Stephanie Howell, said, "Who as a parent wants to sit in class? It's embarrassing. It's a good motivator to not have your parents come and sit with them."

I'm guessing the embarrassment is mutual. What middle school student wants his mom watching over him in the lunch room or hanging out by his locker?

And, as Principal Barnett points out, some kids were viewing being sent home for suspension as a break from school, making it a totally ineffective form of punishment.

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So far, about 30 families have taken advantage of the "reverse suspension" option, but traditional suspension is still used when it can't be avoided.

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The Upshot

This inventive form of punishment is just one example of a larger trend of schools making parents pay for their kids' mistakes. In Roswell, N.M., the city council is currently considering an ordinance that would charge parents with misdemeanors for "educational neglect" if their children are chronically absent from school.

Meanwhile, parents in one Wisconsin town may soon have to pay a fine for their kids' bullying behavior. A suggested ordinance would charge parents up to $366 if they don't put an end to their child's bullying within 90 days of first being alerted to the problem. A second offense could cost as much as $681!

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If policies that punish parents for kids' bad behavior work, I say to schools: go for it—as long as the child is learning the lesson, too. Because the fact is, learning how to behave starts at home, but every kid makes mistakes, and they also learn through having to suffer the consequences. Mommy and daddy won't always be there to clean up their messes, so there must be some onus on the child to also pay for what they did.

What do you think about this new trend?

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