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By: Sam Ossip

Growing up with ADHD, I was either making teachers laugh or making them angry. There was rarely any in between. Often times, because of this, I was sent to the dreaded Detention. Here, I was stuck in a room with other kids who got in trouble, told to write a 1000 word essay, keep quiet, and to think about what I had done wrong. Detention is a part of American culture, stapled into our minds with movies like The Breakfast Club. It begs the question, why hasn’t such a dated concept been revisited and changed for something more conducive to education…

There’s one thing we know for sure: detention doesn’t rehabilitate children, just as prison hardly rehabilitates a prisoner. Detention makes the children feel as though they belong there because they are outcasts. We should rethink the message we are sending to our children. We need to stop making children who act out feel that they aren’t worth saving by punishing them with dated punishments like detention. This only creates more acts of rebellion as the children feel stuck in the molds our society has created for them.

With the violence and socioeconomic despair that’s going on in certain parts of Chicago, many children are at risk of straying away from education. The last thing we need to do is punish the students who are most at risk, when their “bad behavior” could actually be a cry for help. We need to help these at-risk students and make them a priority rather than tossing them into detention. Many of these children could be our next leaders if they are given the proper attention and chance to shine. Detention only pushes these children to stop trying altogether because they feel ostracized by the systems like education that are supposed to help them.    

In 2016, schools in Baltimore, Maryland started to implement an exciting new program. Public schools created a program in which they replaced detention with meditation. The idea seemed crazy to many at first, but the results have been astonishing. Children who have struggled with behavioral issues and who used to be sent to detention are now learning news ways to process their feelings in a healthier and more constructive way. Meditation has provided an outlet that was previously not available in the high-stress lives of these students, and it’s changing lives.

Baltimore has many of the same problems that the city of Chicago has. They have seen great success in this program and have been doing it for the last 2 years. Our children are our future, and we need to start thinking about how much education can shape their success or their failure. Seeing the success of programs like the ones in Baltimore, there’s no reason Chicago shouldn’t at least consider the possibility of creating meditation programs in lieu of detention in our public schools.

 


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