5 Alternatives to Detention That Promote Positive Change


Detention has long been a staple in schools’ disciplinary systems. However, research has shown that detention can be counterproductive in promoting positive behavior change. Instead of fostering healthy development and providing much-needed support, detention can instigate feelings of resentment and disengagement. To combat these negative effects, educators have explored different alternatives to detention that focus on empowering students and supporting their growth potential. Here are five alternatives to detention that have shown promise in rehabilitating student behavior and strengthening relationships between students, their peers, and teachers.

1. Restorative Justice Practices

Restorative justice practices prioritize conflict resolution through communication and the rebuilding of trust between the involved parties. Rather than focusing on punitive measures, restorative justice aims to address the root causes of misbehavior and repair any harm done. This can involve facilitated conversations or circles where students speak openly about their experiences, listen empathetically to others’ perspectives, take responsibility for their actions, and collaborate to identify solutions or reparations.

2. Mindfulness and Meditation Programs

Mindfulness and meditation programs have been gaining popularity in educational settings as a way to curb impulsive or disruptive behavior. These practices help students develop self-awareness, emotional regulation, empathy, and resilience – all crucial skills in managing conflicts effectively without resorting to negative behaviors. By introducing regular mindfulness sessions as an alternative to detention, schools can equip their students with the tools needed for long-term success both academically and socially.

3. Service Learning Projects

Involving students in meaningful service learning projects could be another effective alternative to detention. It teaches valuable life skills while emphasizing empathy, engagement with the community, and restoration of any harm caused by previous behavior. By working on projects that give back to the community or school environment directly affected by students’ actions, they can take ownership of their mistakes while making positive contributions that foster personal growth and a sense of responsibility.

4. Peer Counseling Programs

Peer counseling programs allow students to connect with their peers in providing support, guidance, and mentorship around behavioral and emotional issues. By partnering with trained student counselors, the individuals in need can benefit from relatable perspectives, increased trust, and an understanding that they are not alone in their struggles. Replacing detention with peer counseling sessions can also contribute to de-stigmatizing mental health issues while encouraging open conversation about their challenges.

5. Personalized Behavior Intervention Plans

When misbehavior is a recurring issue for a student, it might indicate underlying difficulties that need to be addressed in a more individualized way. Working with the student, teachers, and school counselors develop a personalized behavior intervention plan tailored to address specific needs and provide relevant support strategies. These plans focus on long-term solutions, helping students understand consequences while guiding them toward more productive ways of meeting their goals or expressing emotions.


The traditional disciplinary approach centered around detention has proven to be insufficient in promoting lasting positive changes within students. By adopting alternatives like restorative justice practices, mindfulness programs, service learning projects, peer counseling initiatives, and personalized behavior intervention plans, schools can holistically support their students’ well-being while fostering a more compassionate and understanding environment conducive to healthy development.

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