Is a Lack of Healthy Fear Behind Today’s Discipline Problems?

If children have no consequences to fear, then why should they be inspired to obey the rules or even strive for academic success?

Annie Holmquist | March 16, 2016

If children have no consequences to fear, then why should they be inspired to obey the rules or even strive for academic success?
Is a Lack of Healthy Fear Behind Today’s Discipline Problems?

It seems that American schools aren’t the only ones having problems with student behavior.

According to a recent Telegraph article, English schools are also experiencing a rise in student attacks on teachers, including headbutts, knife attacks, and biting incidents.

But apparently the English are not as “PC” as Americans when it comes to poor discipline in the schools. As reporter Judith Woods puts it, the simple solution to behavior problems is to restore fear in the hearts of children:

“It's uncomfortable and yes, a touch totalitarian to say out loud, but fear is the predecessor of respect.

Not blank-eyed terror at a midnight knock on the door, but social anxiety about repercussions (don't mess with airport security or they will yank your bags off the plane) or a loss of face (people will laugh at you if you fail to conform). Worse, your parents might find out.

My generation lived in fear of our parents. It was a different time, and a different dynamic, characterised by consensus rather than individualism.

But these days even using the word "fear" requires explanation and deconstruction because fear sounds like a bad thing, a sad thing and thus the very last thing we want our children to feel.

And yet. And yet wouldn't we prefer it if they didn't talk back, or grunt with simian contempt, slam doors and disregard our perfectly reasonable and well-meaning requests to maybe switch off their screens and do their homework?

Yes we would. And as we become more lax, touchy-feely and empathetic as parents, we need classroom dragons and Demon Headmasters more urgently than ever.”

Woods has a point. We have created a culture where laying a hand on a child is labeled abuse, where people worry that removing privileges or giving children a lower grade will damage their self-esteem, and where children are placed on a pedestal which parents and teachers must bow down to while catering to the child’s every need. If children have no consequences to fear, then why should they be inspired to obey the rules or even strive for academic success?

Is it time we reinstate a healthy fear of parents and teachers in today’s children?

Image Credit: Tumblr



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