Girl to sue over detention “The family, who want compensation, will argue that the detentions were unlawful because they took place in Freya’s free time. ” If you can’t give kids detention, how else are they going to be punished for breaking school rules?
I suppose there’s some comfort to be found in the fact that this is a story taking place in Britain, not America – meaning that it’s not just us who come up with outrageous reasons to go to court and have parents who seem to think that their children shouldn’t have to play by the rules.
Now, it’s been a while since I was last in school, but if I recall correctly the point of detention was to take up your free time – as punishment for having broken the school’s rules. There are many things that occur in schools that require students to stay after class. Most extra-curricular activities, such as sports, cheerleading, drama productions, marching band and so on, hold their meetings and practices outside of normal school hours, during a student’s free time. While some might argue that there’s a difference, because students can choose whether or not to participate in such activities, it can also be argued that a student can choose whether or not to participate in detention. If you don’t want to have to stay after school for breaking the rules, then you can choose not to break them.
I find this story to be a troubling part of a larger trend, however. This last year, I recall stories about parents suing or threatening to sue if their child were subjected to some of the normal consequences of their actions. In one case, the parents threatened to sue when a teacher noted that their child was going to fail a class, even though there had been plenty of warning given that the student’s grades were unacceptable and the teacher took time to try and help the student improve them. In one town in Kansas, several students were given failing grades for a class because the teacher had evidence that they’d plagiarized assigned reports. Many parents were upset about this, and in the ensuing controversy, the school board chose to allow the students to pass the class and the teacher ended up quitting.
When parents threaten to litigate because their child has been penalized for misbehavior… whether it is through a detention or lowered grades… the parents are only teaching their children that they don’t have to accept responsibility for their actions. The children get the message that they can do whatever they want, and as long as they have a lawyer, they won’t have to suffer any consequences. This does not bode well for the future of the country, as it indicates that frivolous lawsuits and “excuse” defenses will only increase as these next generations come into their own and become the leaders of the nation.
In most of the cases of parental interference that have occurred in the US, the school boards have caved in to their demands before the suit could go to trial. While I realize that defending a lawsuit costs a great deal of money, it seems to me that it would be much better if the cases could go to trial. Perhaps it is naive, but I suspect that a judge or jury would be much less likely to buy into the parents apparently belief that their child is entitled to live consequence-free, and perhaps it would cut down on the number of parents willing to try bullying their schools.