Health Equity, School Discipline and Restorative Justice
The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 47 S2 (2019): 47-50.
4 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2019
Date Written: August 7, 2019
Over the last thirty years, schools have undergone significant shifts in how they view youth behavior. Rather than developing multi-tiered systems of support to teach children critical social and emotional skills (e.g., self-regulation, emotional literacy, or problem solving), many schools implemented policies that deliver harsh, predetermined punishments.These punitive, exclusionary, and zero tolerance approaches (e.g., suspensions, expulsions, and use of force by school resource officers) not only deny students important educational opportunities, but also may compound existing social, economic, and health disparities. Thus, education policy that supports or hinders children’s success in schools is not just about what happens in the classroom. It should also be understood as public health policy with far-reaching potential positive and negative impacts across a range of health status indicators. However, the public health community has largely overlooked education policy reform as one part of a larger framework for advancing health justice. This article seeks to begin to fill this gap by laying the groundwork for a new movement that understands and recognizes exclusionary school discipline (ESD) as a health justice issue.
Keywords: restorative justice, public health law, law and policy, school discipline, exclusionary discipline, adverse childhood experiences
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