Prioritizing Professionalism: Why High School Students Should Not Participate in Disciplinary Committee Decisions
One of the primary elements of a successful high school student is a growing sense of responsibility. However, even if a school’s mission supports this endeavor, involving high school students in disciplinary committee decisions is not the most effective or fair approach to gaining additional experience and responsibility.
In addition to developing their understanding of multifaceted issues and social dynamics, high schoolers are learning where they stand in every ethical dilemma they face. Coupled with the scientific fact that their brains are still building some of the key ingredients to make complex decisions, they are constantly confronted with situations where they are pulled in many directions and feel conflicted when they make one decision or another. Disciplinary decisions often involve complex situations that demand an experienced and mature perspective. Professionals and educators are much more equipped to maneuver through these intricacies so that a fair outcome is achieved.
Most teens are innately connected to their peer groups and involving them in decisions that impact their friends or peers may lead to partiality or perception of bias, therefore altering the integrity of the disciplinary process and even the overall learning environment. High schoolers are often challenged by remaining impartial which is heightened by the additional factors of social media and other pressures.
Asking a teenager to make a decision about someone their age that might alter their social or academic life forever might place an undue burden on them as well. There are so many academic and personal challenges that teens already have to face so why add the weight of making an additional decision that could affect their well-being?
An alternative for DC participation is having students create an advisory board for how DC decisions are made or how to enhance the disciplinary experience so it is the fairest, most effective, and most just for each student who faces it.
Responsibility and accountability are essential in a student’s high school education, however, involving them in DC decisions is not beneficial for them or any school's disciplinary process.
Petrie, Sandra, et al. “The importance of peer group (“crowd”) affiliation in adolescence.” Wiley Online Library, vol. 9, no. 1, 1986, pp. 73-96, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1016/S0140-1971(86)80029-X. Accessed 12 November 2023.
“Teen Brain: Behavior, Problem Solving, and Decision Making.” AACAP, https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/The-Teen-Brain-Behavior-Problem-Solving-and-Decision-Making-095.aspx. Accessed 12 November 2023.
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Brad Rathgeber (he/him/his)