Preventive Discipline / INTRODUCTION
Introduction to Preventive Discipline
The preventive approach to discipline focuses less on punishing students (exclusionary discipline) and more on reducing the likelihood of students breaking school rules in the first place.


Exclusionary discipline practices refer to the tendency to deal with student misbehavior by excludinging them from certain aspects of school including detention, suspension and expulsion. There is no evidence to suggest that exclusionary discipline practices are effective at making schools safer and decreasing unwanted student behavior. Instead, exclusionary policies have been shown to increase the likelihood of a student:

  • Receiving another suspension
  • Repeating a grade
  • Dropping out
  • Contact with the Juvenile Justice System

Exclusionary Discipline practices often create a positive feedback loop in which the severity of the school violation and punishment are constantly escalating. A student who breaks a school rule is punished for doing so, this punishment sets the student up to break more school rules, which in turn increases the severity of the punishment. Instead, we need to focus on creating a negative feedback loop of school discipline so that discipline for violating school policy becomes a preventative rather than reactionary measure which will inhibit further rule breaking.

Alternatives to Exclusionary Discipline Practices: Preventive Practice

The literature has categorized alternatives to exclusionary discipline practices into three major models: (1) Restorative Justice (2) Positive Behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS), and (3) Social and emotional learning (SEL). These models of disciplining have been described as preventive practices because they work to reduce the likelihood of students breaking school rules.