A Detention Should Not Mean Public Humiliation

Student Opinion

When students break school rules by cutting class or being disruptive, the administration responds by giving those students detention. It appears to be a fair punishment. But these students do not always consider that their punishment will be supplemented by a little bit of public humiliation. The students will be reminded by name of their detention during the afternoon announcements for their teachers and classmates to hear. Any student would feel like a criminal after this embarrassing public pronouncement of guilt.

The administration might argue that announcing the detentions is the most efficient way to remind students at the end of the day, but this claim ignores the basic rights to privacy and courtesy that all students deserve, no matter what infractions they have committed. Everyone knows what it means to have your name called over the afternoon announcements; the message is not discreet. In addition, the embarrassment is more likely to build resentment than to deter anyone from breaking a rule. Efficiency is not a replacement for courtesy.

Teachers do not reprimand students for failing to turn in an assignment in front of the entire class. They deal with the problem in private rather than alienating the student by making a personal issue public. Why is it unacceptable for teachers to embarrass students in front of 30 classmates but nobody questions it when the administration embarrasses students in front of the entire school?

A simple solution to the problem would be to hand out detention notices in person at the end of the day. Students would be reminded in a much more subtle manner. This would not entirely eliminate the problem because the students’ classmates would see them being handed the notice, but it would certainly lessen the degree to which the students are publicly humiliated.

This problem comes down to the way Wilde Lake should treat its students: as people, not as criminals to be reformed. Does having a phone out one too many times warrant humiliating a ninth grader as he is trying to fit in and make friends in high school?  Does being late to first period justify damaging an eleventh grader’s reputation in the eyes of her teacher as she is preparing to ask for a recommendation letter? The answer is no. Reminding students of their detentions privately is an act of courtesy that will go a long way towards civility at Wilde Lake.

The Paw Print is published by the Journalism class. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the staff, the students, the administrators, or the school board. Letters to the Editors are encouraged. The Paw Print reserves the right to edit any submissions.