The After-school Detention: Does It Punish Kids — or Parents?

Posted October 8, 2012 by

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What is the purpose of an after-school detention? I think I know what the intent is, but let’s get serious. Who does it really punish? Certainly not the child.

My 7th grade stepson got after-school detention for passing gas in class. Yes, you read that correctly. The note did not specify what he did exactly, only that he had several warnings, was disrespectful to students and the teacher, was wasting class time, inappropriate talking, and he had his seat moved. The form latter we had to sign said, “It is my hope that you will speak to your child about improving his behavior choices. If this type of behavior continues, I may need to refer your child to an Administrator. I am counting on your support.”

Okay — I get it. If the child has to stay after school, obviously someone needs to pick him up, possibly leaving work early. Maybe if the parent lets the child know how it affects their work schedule and impacts their day, the child will cease these behaviors. Maybe a consequence at home will reinforce the seriousness of this behavior. (Yeah, that will happen.)

At least in this case, we are dealing with a child who does not understand cause and effect, nor does he care. If he cared about how his behaviors affected others, he would not be doing this in the first place. He goes to therapy, he takes medication for his ADHD and anxiety, and we provide consequences consistently at home. We are involved in his education. He frequently exhibited impulsive/disruptive behaviors last year. He has an Action Plan; at least he did last year. This meant that the teachers recorded his behaviors daily and we signed a report each evening after reading it. Upon speaking with this teacher, we found out she was never notified of this Plan. Should I be surprised? This is the reason we formulated the Plan to begin with, having been denied a 504 because he was maintaining his grades.

We have already spoken with him about this behavior. He does not see that he did anything wrong. Since the note did not give us details, he told us he was passing gas. I am sure there is more to the story. His explanation was that he did not “push it out. It just came out.” So that makes it not his fault. We had him write an apology to the teacher and we are still deciding on an additional consequence. He knows that I will need to leave work early to pick him up because we live too far for him to walk.

Do I think he will modify his behavior from this point on? Um, no.


I am a mom of two boys, ages 16 and 22, both with ADHD, bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression. I have remarried and my husband has 2 boys, ages 13 and 16. The 13 year old lives with us, and has some behavioral problems and attachment issues. There is always something happening at our house!

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