It’s Time to Start Reconsidering Suspensions

In recent years, there has been growing concern about the effectiveness of school suspensions as a disciplinary measure. Proponents argue that suspensions serve as a deterrent against disruptive behavior and help maintain a safe learning environment. However, critics argue that suspending students can be counterproductive and exacerbate existing problems within the education system. In light of these arguments, it is time to reconsider the use of suspensions in schools and explore alternative disciplinary methods.

The Argument Against Suspensions

One primary concern that critics raise is that suspensions disproportionately affect certain demographics, specifically students from low-income households and minority backgrounds. This can perpetuate systemic educational inequalities, as suspended students are at a heightened risk of falling behind academically and experiencing negative long-term outcomes such as dropping out of school or engaging in criminal behavior.

Moreover, suspension often fails to address the root causes of disruptive behavior. Students may act out for various reasons – from unresolved personal issues to undiagnosed learning disorders – and suspension alone does not provide the necessary support or intervention needed to help them overcome these challenges.

Lastly, suspending students can contribute to fostering an unhealthy school climate, where young individuals do not feel valued or respected. When students are detached from their learning environment, it creates a gap in their education, contributing to disengagement and disconnection from school communities.

Alternatives to Suspension

Instead of relying on suspensions as a default response to disciplinary matters, schools should first consider implementing alternative strategies that foster positive behavior change.

1. Restorative Practices: Rather than simply punishing students for misbehavior, restorative practices promote communication between all parties involved to gain an understanding of what caused the issue and collaboratively develop solutions. This approach fosters empathy, accountability and mutual respect among students and staff.

2. Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Programs: SEL programs focus on teaching students essential life skills such as self-management, decision-making, and effective communication. By incorporating SEL into the curriculum, schools can foster a more positive school climate and prevent disciplinary issues from arising in the first place.

3. Early Intervention: Schools should proactively identify and address students’ needs before they escalate to serious behavioral issues. Providing mental health services, counseling, and academic support can reduce the likelihood of students acting out due to unmet emotional or academic needs.

4. Peer Mediation and Conflict Resolution: Providing students with opportunities to resolve conflicts amongst themselves fosters a sense of community and encourages individuals to take greater responsibility for their actions. Providing proper training in conflict resolution techniques can empower students to become peacemakers within their schools.


It is crucial for educational institutions to recognize that suspensions are not a one-size-fits-all solution for disciplinary issues. Moving forward, schools should prioritize implementing alternatives to suspension that promote positive behavior change and address the root causes of disruptive behavior. By doing so, we can create more equitable learning environments that benefit all students and contribute to a healthier school climate overall.