Student Codes of Conduct: Basic Issues

Basic Conduct Issues

The classroom is designed to provide students with a structured environment in which they can learn. In most cases the classroom model works quite well, but it fails to take simple human nature into consideration. Children, even those who are normally well behaved, will try to test the rules for two simple reasons. First, they are away from their parents, which makes them feel independent even though a teacher may be watching them. For this reason, some students habitually come to class late or skip class altogether. Second, as children learn to socialize they seek ways to generate attention, even negative attention for being disruptive, for example, by always talking out of turn or playing the class clown.

In years past, schools offered courses in what was known as "civics." Civics courses often included instruction on the importance of integrity, honesty, and respect for others. Civics courses have fallen out of favor for the most part, although many schools do offer some sort of course work focusing on understanding values. Nonetheless, there are always students who will break the rules.

The point teachers and administrators stress is that even minor infractions of student codes of conduct, and related basic issues, can represent more serious behavior problems, and failure to offer discipline and guidance can lead some students to more disruptive or harmful violations. Among the more innocuous types of behavior that constitute conduct violations are the following:

  • Repeatedly coming to class without appropriate supplies (books, gym clothes, etc.)
  • Leaving school property without permission
  • Defacing school property (vandalizing books, for example)
  • Wearing inappropriate clothing
  • Bringing radios or CD players to class
  • Truancy

Clearly each of these infractions of student codes of conduct and basic related issues warrants different punishment. Probably the most common punishment is still having the student stay after school. Faculty and administrators have a variety of other options, however. They can give a warning or reprimand, have a student conference, have a parent conference, change the student's class schedule, or impose a suspension. The student who brings a radio to class might benefit most from a reprimand (and from having the radio confiscated for the day). The student who cuts class regularly may require more direct involvement with teachers and parents. Students who drive to school could have their parking privileges revoked if they leave school grounds without permission.

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