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Does Fining Parents Work?

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Does fining or punishing parents for their children's misbehavior really work? Probably not, suggests a recent story by the BBC.

One researcher looked specifically at whether fining parents worked to discourage British children from skipping school. But he found no link between the parental penalties and improved school attendance.

Rather, the story says, efforts to educate parents about how to discipline their children tend to be more effective than fines. But it says such efforts are expensive and therefore not widespread.

I have known some families in which most of the kids are well-behaved and respectful, but there is one particularly bad child. It just happens. So I am not surprised by this researcher's findings.

Still, for those parents who refuse to hold their children accountable for bad behavior, maybe this is an appropriate last resort. I can think of more than a few parents that might beneft from a jolt of accountability.

6 Comments

Well, here's wonderful example of research overlooked because it doesn't tell us what we want to hear. The problem with "last resorts" (when nothing else works) is that in the absence of a willingness and resources to apply other solutions one can get to that "last resort" very quickly. Particularly if there is a will to go there in the first place.

While it is important to support good practice that is preventive of problems, some serious attention needs to be paid to changing the mindset that determines that parents are at fault, that they don't care, that they need some kind of "wake-up call." I have personally fought the school attendance battles, dropping a child at school, watching them enter the building before I drove off--even on occasion calling the office so that someone knew that they were there. If the primary attitude within the building is "not my problem," it is very, very difficult for a parent to make any headway. I have even had, sometimes, to resort to the speech that explains that they don't care in there, and that they are just waiting for you to mess up so that they have an excuse not to educate you.

I wonder how teachers would react if they were fined, or mandated to take classes when kids walk out of their classes, or skip, even when their parents have seen to it that they get to school?

From pre-school through 4th grade, my son was every teacher's nightmare. He misbehaved in class, was agressive with other students and generally made class life miserable. I had meetings and more meetings, we put him in every therapy available, and still could not get him to behave. Then we changed schools. He had a loving caring teacher who took the time to help him process things. In the 7th grade we had him evaluated at Duke University. What we found out was that he was highly intellent(already knew that) he had ADD and a learning disability. Once we had all the pieces of the puzzle, he completely turned around. But I can't tell you how many times a teacher or principal made us feel responsible for his behavior. How were we supposed to make him behave when we had no control over the environment he was in? It takes a whole team approach sometimes.

Why can parents of teenagers be fined for truancy but the over 10's are criminally accountable in their own right. This just does not make sense.

Why can parents of teenagers be fined for truancy but the over 10's are criminally accountable in their own right. This just does not make sense.

Why can parents of teenagers be fined for truancy but the over 10's are criminally accountable in their own right. This just does not make sense.

Why can parents of teenagers be fined for truancy but the over 10's are criminally accountable in their own right. This just does not make sense.

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