Why Suspending or Expelling Students Often Does More Harm Than Good

A common punishment for students that get into serious trouble at school is to get suspended or expelled. However, despite being a well-known tradition, it may not be as effective as educators think.

Suspension vs. Expulsion

While both of these are extreme punishments at school, they are not the same thing. Suspension is when a student is sent home from school until a long-term decision can be made on how to respond. Then, expulsion, or exclusion, is when a student must leave school permanently. Both scenarios are due to a serious incident at school, which is usually any major violation of the school’s code of conduct.

Why It’s Not the Best Decision

It is actually a legal responsibility of the state governments to provide education for children. Therefore, if a child is expelled, they will need to find somewhere else to get an education, which often means being home-schooled. If they are just suspended, they may still be allowed to come back to that school, but they are still missing out on days at school where they could be learning.

Also, when kids are suspended, they could fall behind in school, which could greatly affect them in the future. Research has shown that expelling students really doesn’t teach them anything or improve their behavior because many students that get expelled just go on to engage in more bad behaviors as they grow older. Sending students away may seem to help the school, but for that kid, it just encourages them to cause trouble elsewhere.

How Can This Be Fixed?

The number of suspensions and expulsions has increased over the years, meaning that more and more students are not benefitting from school each year due to their bad behaviors. The U.S. Department of Education stated that in the school year of 2011 to 2012, approximately 130,000 students were expelled. While this number may seem small in comparison to the large number of students that attend school, it is still a large number that likely could have been avoided.

The easiest way to fix this issue is to focus more on improving behaviors in school so that these extreme steps don’t need to be taken. Teachers should be confident to work on these issues in their classes to avoid constant misbehavior. If needed, teachers should spend more one-on-one time with students that cause problems to help get to the root of those issues and to help improve their communication skills. If students can feel more comfortable in school, then it is less likely that they will cause problems, which would reduce the number of suspensions and expulsions.


While suspending and expelling students are common forms of punishment in school districts, educators should be working harder to improve the behavior of the kids first instead of just using strict punishment. While teachers are supposed to be teaching students new topics and information, it is also important for them to address the emotional needs of kids. If a student is misbehaving, faculty at the schools should talk to them reasonably before the student’s actions worsen.

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