New Report Finds Harmful Health Effects of Harsh Discipline

Last Updated: July 27, 2012

This article appeared in the July 2012 Rural Policy Matters.

Editor's note: Links are free and current at time of posting, but may require registration or expire over time.

A new report released by several nonprofits in California concludes that there are both direct and indirect negative health effects on students when schools impose harsh and exclusionary discipline.

The report, "Health Impact Assessment of School Discipline Policies" is published by Human Impact Partners, Community Asset Development Re-Defining Education (CADRE), and Restorative Justice Partners. It concludes that exclusionary discipline can lead to stress, short- and long-term emotional damage, and behavioral disorders among students.

The report contrasts the educational, disciplinary, and health effects of exclusionary discipline (suspension and expulsion) to those of Restorative Justice and/or Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) in Los Angeles, Oakland, and Salinas, California. It includes information from case studies, focus groups, and interviews with stakeholders, parents, and students.

The direct negative health outcomes of exclusionary discipine include increased violence, drug use, and mental health issues.

In addition, the study highlighted negative health effects related to nonparticipation in schools, including delinquent behavior leading to incarceration. The report notes that incarceration in both juveniles and adults is associated with stress-related illnesses, psychiatric problems, suicide attempts, higher long-range recidivism rates, and increased rates of HIV, Hepatitis C, and tuberculosis.

The researchers found that the rate of short- and long-term negative health outcomes for Black males are disproportionately higher, correlating with disproportionately higher discipline rates for this group of students.

The report also includes an extensive literature review on exclusionary discipline, PBIS, and Restorative Justice and related outcomes for students.

The report is: Health Impact Assssment of School Discipline Policies: A Health Impact Assessment of Status-Quo Discipline, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, and Restorative Justice policies in three California School Districts. Human Impact Partners. May 2012.

Read more:

Press Release:

Full report:

Coverage of the report:

The California Endowment website:

Human Impact Partners:

California Asset Development Re-Defining Education (CADRE)

Restorative Justice Partners


Read more from the July 2012 Rural Policy Matters.

Related Categories: Rural Policy Matters

Related Tags: Discipline, Income Related Issues