School naughty corner and suspensions may be human rights abuse (Aust)

The Advertiser 9 July 2014
THE naughty corner and disciplinary suspensions in schools may be human rights abuses against children, according to South Australian academics who will present their concerns to a national summit on child behaviour.

UniSA will next week host the Behaviour in Australian Schools summit, which is being sponsored by the Education Department and will include a public lecture from National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell, connecting human rights and behaviour management.

UniSA behaviour experts say suspending or continually excluding children from classrooms could be breaching their fundamental right to an education.

They say practices such as shouting at students and sending them to “time outs” in classroom corners could breach the international Convention on the Rights of the Child, under which school discipline must protect children’s “human dignity”.

Summit organisers Dr Anna Sullivan and Professor Bruce Johnson, from UniSA’s School of Education, said the “provocative” human rights focus aimed to shift the blame for bad behaviour from students and parents to systemic failures in schools.

“We think some of the practices undertaken in schools from a conservative approach privilege the rights of the group over the rights of the individual,” Prof Johnson said.

“It’s too easy to say the child’s naughty, defiant, oppositional … or there is deficiency in the kid’s parenting.