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Pediatricians Have Role to Play in School Discipline

Should assist students affected by out-of-school suspension; promote positive behavior support

THURSDAY, Feb. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Pediatricians can play various roles with respect to discipline in schools, including helping students affected by out-of-school suspension and assisting with positive behavior support, according to a policy statement published online Feb. 25 in Pediatrics.

Noting that too frequent use of zero-tolerance policies and out-of-school suspension and expulsion impairs their role as deterrents and can be counterproductive and harmful, Jeffrey H. Lamont, M.D., and colleagues from the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on School Health discuss the role of the pediatrician with respect to school discipline.

According to the report, pediatricians should screen for and be able to identify early childhood and preschool behavior problems; once identified, these children should be referred to age-appropriate community resources. Pediatricians should establish communication with the school nurse and/or counselor to compare problem behavior exhibited by school-aged children with that of their peers in the school setting. Pediatricians should work together with the school, the child, the family, and mental health professionals, ideally as early as possible after the onset of problem behavior. Pediatricians should familiarize themselves with local school policies on out-of-school suspension or zero tolerance, and should advocate for positive changes. In addition, pediatricians can serve in a larger capacity as school district physicians, local school board members, or as consultants to help develop school policy.

"More research is indicated to identify the most effective means of eliciting positive behaviors in a child with the greatest benefits to society," the authors write.

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Physician's Briefing
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