The past two years have been immensely difficult for our nation’s students and teachers. In the wake of the isolation and trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health and behavioral challenges are on the rise as students continue to process unprecedented amounts of stress, anxiety, and grief. The decline in child and adolescent mental health has been so great that the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association have declared it a national emergency.
These mental health issues have translated into increased disengagement, conflict, and bullying — and as a result, disciplinary action — in school classrooms and hallways across the country.
As a Dean of Culture at a public school in Queens, New York, until recently, I saw these challenges first-hand. I also know that traditional discipline methods fail to address the root cause of behavioral issues. Many forms of disciplinary action are doing more harm than good. This is especially true when research shows that Black students are disciplined far more than White students for the same offenses, perpetuating and sustaining cycles of inequity in our schools. …Read More