This story is over 5 years old.


The Upside to Replacing Detention With Meditation

Corporal punishment is still legal in 19 states, but one foundation is pushing an alternative to helping kids reflect on bad behavior.
Opposing Views Facebook

Research makes it clear that corporal punishment isn't the right way to help kids learn right from wrong. Increased aggression and antisocial behavior, for instance, are just a couple of the side-effects that recent studies have linked to spanking.

Nineteen states, however, still allow the outdated form of discipline, and some research suggests a racial component may be at work: African American children were roughly 50 percent more likely to be punished in schools. "These disparities violate several federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination and suggest hidden biases that may factor into which children get paddled," Elizabeth Gershoff, who conducted the study, said in a press release. While some educators clearly need a new lesson plan for disciplining young students, at least one school has decided to seek out a more innovative solution.

At Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in Baltimore, detention has been replaced with the Mindful Moment Room, where disruptive children are sent to reflect on their behavior, let go of stress, and gain the opportunity to peacefully rejoin the classroom. The approach is not only less humiliating and painful than a dunce cap or wooden paddle, it's also surprisingly effective: The Maryland school hasn't had a single suspension since starting the program. Teachers have even said that students focus better during subject transitions, and calm down faster in the wake of an outburst or tantrum.

Meditation has also been linked to increased attention span. The growing body of research supporting the benefits of mindfulness may have been part of what convinced Coleman Elementary to partner with the Holistic Life Foundation, a non-profit founded in 2001 whose mission is to help children in underprivileged neighborhoods find more productive ways to cope with anger, stress, and sadness.  Andres Gonzalez, one of the Foundation's cofounders, may have put it best in a recent interview with O Magazine: "We've had parents tell us, 'I came home the other day stressed out and my daughter said, 'Hey mom, you need to sit down. I need to teach you how to breathe."