“Do You Have More Information on School Discipline Problems?”

In the late 1940s teachers listed the worst problems they faced in school as chewing gum, running in the hall, etc. A few years ago teachers listed some violent crimes as the worst problems. Do you have more detail on this?

One example often used to demonstrate social decline is the list of discipline problems in the public schools. Usually the list contrasts school problems 50 years ago with those today.

Supposedly the top problems in the schools 50 years ago were: talking, chewing gum, running in the halls, making noise, getting out of line, violating the dress code, and littering. According to the survey, today’s school problems are: drugs, alcohol, pregnancy, suicide, rape, and robbery.

Unfortunately, the school discipline list is an invention. The lists are not the result of research or surveys. The first list (50 years ago) catalogues daily disturbances. The second list (today) is actually composed of items from a “Safe School” questionnaire. To read more about these school discipline lists, see Barry O’Neill, “The invention of the school discipline lists,” School Administrator, 51 (1994): 8-11. I would NOT recommend you use these lists to demonstrate social decline.

Perhaps the best way to illustrate social and moral decline in this country would be to cite many of the statistics in Bill Bennett’s book Index of Leading Cultural Indicators (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994) or at the Empower America Web Site (www.empower.org). These show a dramatic change in social statistics from 1960 and use respected instruments of measurement.

Kerby Anderson
Probe Ministries