Behaviour change and justice

Scenes From The Battleground

There are two contrasting elements to the way schools respond to bad behaviour and to responses to wrongdoing in society generally.

One is that of justice. Those who cause direct harm to others, undermine legitimate authority, or deliberately violate rules for their own ends, deserve negative consequences for themselves. Criminals deserve to go to prison, or pay a fine or whatever. Those who mistreat or betray those around them, whether that’s their colleagues, friends or family, deserve a diminished relationship with those around them (either temporarily, or in the worst cases permanently). Badly behaved children deserve a detention, or to lose a treat, or whatever.

The other element is behaviour change. We want undesirable behaviour to stop. We want criminals to stop committing crime. We want friends who let us down to become more reliable. We want an inconsiderate spouse to become considerate. We want a badly behaved child to…

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