When should students be suspended?

The P.E.I. Public Schools Branch is looking for comments on its school suspension policy, and you had lots to say about it on Facebook.
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The P.E.I. Public Schools Branch is asking for input on its latest suspension policy, which outlines how and why Island students can be suspended.

"This kind of policy ensures that there's a common practice across the entire Public Schools Branch," said PSB director Parker Grimmer.

The policy covers specific reasons students might be suspended  — such as drug use or bullying — as well as general reasons, such as opposition to school authority.

School suspensions — and what the new policy should cover — garnered lots of comments on CBC Prince Edward Island's Facebook page.

(Please note that usernames are not necessarily the names of commenters. Some comments have been altered to correct spelling and to conform to CBC style.)

Parents have to do their job

"School is not a place for kids to go and learn about how they should act in society. That is taught at home," said Destiny Wells-Arsenault. "Parents have a responsibility for their children until they are legal age. So yes, if that means parents have to take the day off then I hope they make that day worth it and help their kids know that what they did was not OK."

A child's behaviour starts with the parents, say some comments. (VGstockstudio/Shutterstock)

"​Stop expecting teachers to parent your child," Scott Boswall chimed in. "They've got 30-plus students to look after every day. You've got a responsibility, too. And for those out there who think their child shouldn't have been suspended and refuse to reinforce the problem, you're likely the problem to begin with. Stop trying to bubble wrap your child."

An alternative to suspensions

Some of the comments opposed the idea of suspension altogether.

"Every time I hear the word suspension I cringe," wrote Kathryn Thompson. "These students don't need to be kicked out of school…. Maybe there are underlying reasons for their behaviour. Maybe they just need somebody they can talk to, somebody they can trust or maybe they are just being jerks. But depriving them of an education is not the solution!"

"Suspending gives most kids a day off while their parents work," said Shawna Richards. "Sleeping in, a day on electronics or finding themselves in bad situations."

Counselling and mindfulness

"Mandatory counselling too would be nice," said Katie Poirier. "A little help and positive direction would go a long way."

"I know school counsellors are overworked as it is, but these kids act out for a reason," said Denise Dawn MacLeod.

Some comments suggest counselling or meditation as ways to address the underlying issue of a child's behaviour, rather than suspension. (Getty Images)

"Teaching children meditation, mindfulness, empathy, compassion and other positive traits, instead of giving them detention and/or suspending them may do far more good," added Dwayne Robbie.

A trip to the janitor's office?

Some of the comments suggested a more appropriate punishment would be putting kids to work with the janitor.

A kid should not be suspended," said Justin Harris. "They should have the day off school to attend school janitor services such as scraping gum off sidewalks, under desks, sweeping floors, mopping floors, emptying trash cans, lots of stuff to help the janitor with."

But Jo-Anne CK had some concerns about that proposal.

"Being a janitor in a school myself I am there to maintain the cleanliness of the school not to look after a kid," she said.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

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