Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Thursday, 31 May, 2001, 09:38 GMT 10:38 UK
Should children of violent parents be expelled?

Head teachers want the right to expel pupils whose parents are violent towards teachers.

The National Association of Head Teachers says that there is "rising tide" of assaults against teachers by parents - in incidents which they have called "school rage".

Head teachers say they want a zero tolerance policy against such attacks, including banning violent parents from school premises and expelling their children from school.

Should children be punished for the actions of their parents? And why are parents becoming more aggressive in their dealings with schools?


Adria says "Kids are supposed to learn social skills and reasonable behaviour in schools" No! I thought they were supposed to learn that at home? No wonder schools are under such pressure.
Julian, Wiltshire UK

Throwing them into the lap of decent teachers is a cowardly way of handling matters

David Thomas, England
The teacher shortage has risen to 17,000! There is no doubt that the potential for violence from students is deterring good people from considering education as a line of work. So, violent students are now a threat to all but the richest families who can pay their way into top schools. These offenders cannot be excluded entirely from the education system but we do need to radically rethink our methods of dealing with these people because throwing them into the lap of decent teachers is a cowardly way of handling matters.
David Thomas, England

I thought parents were responsible for the actions of their children and not the other way round?
S Fowler, UK

I think it is a bad idea to expel the children for their parents' anger. But a good idea to ban the parents from school property preferably with a threat of criminal repercussions if this ban is not followed. Parents need to be taught that school is a place of discipline and learning as well as the children. Perhaps punishing the parents will send a message to the child that behaving badly is wrong.
Finbar, England

It's interesting that some people are using this forum to advocate the return of corporal punishment in schools. Why is it unacceptable for an adult to assault another adult, yet desirable for an adult to assault a child? What strange values you have.
Andrew Smith, US exUK

If parents knew that their ill-behaved little thugs would end up spending all day with them as a result of the parents' behaviour, they might think before lashing out at a teacher.

The main argument against the exclusion seems to be that the student will suffer if removed from mainstream education. What about all the other students in his/her class? For many of these people, violent parents often have violent children, and although I think that there should be special schools and institutions to help them, a choice between total exclusion or not is no choice at all, when the benefits of all those involved is taken into account. Being 18, I have been through the state-school system more recently than most, and it is shocking to see just how many people suffer if every behaviour, no matter how disrespectful and violent, is tolerated.
Chris, UK

In our hospitals, attacks and assaults on doctors and nursing staff are usually met with legal action. We do not exclude an injured child from hospital because their parent attacks a staff member, so why should the same apply to schools? Just because teachers generally today don't believe in disciplining children hard, there is no reason why criminal parents shouldn't be treated harshly. After a couple of publicised cases of threatening parents being charged, found guilty, fined heavily, given a criminal record, etc, maybe, just maybe, the prevailing attitude might change.
Robin, UK

Punishing the kids will only unite them with their parents in outrage against the school

Adria, USA
Kids are supposed to learn social skills and reasonable behaviour in schools. Kids whose parents are violent are at risk of learning their parents' inappropriate behaviour. If we expel these kids from school, we leave them under the sole influence of their parents - the ones who we would expect to teach them bad behaviour in the first place. Besides, punishing the kids will only unite them with their parents in outrage against the school - not a great way to ensure future educational success.
Adria, USA

No, do not exclude these children as what hope is there for them without a decent education?
Jan, Britain

This whole issue is just another example of the ongoing breakdown in British culture. Of course we must expect better of both children and parents. Yes the schools have the right to expel a student for the behaviour of the parent. To do otherwise sends another bad message to the student. The parents should be interfacing with the student when problems develop, not the teachers. This is all the result of the breakdown in discipline that started in the sixties and accelerated after we joined the EEC and buckled under to its liberal policies. Bring back caning and you will see an about-turn in the decline. But do it quickly while there are still teachers who understand discipline. First the children were spoiled, now the parents and soon the teachers.
Ian Gorman, USA (British Expatriate)

You can be sure that if the parents get away with it their kids will feel that they can too

Mike, UK
Undoubtedly, YES! You can be sure that if the parents get away with it their kids will feel that they can too. Make school a place where kids go to learn, not a place where teachers spend their time fending off attacks, both physical and mental.
Mike, UK

This is absurd! Usually it is the issue of whether the parents should be responsible for their children's deeds. I feel that, no matter what, it is not fair to take away the child's right to an education system and besides, the root problem is just not solved. By expulsion, we are supporting the proliferation of the social stigma of apathy.
Shawn, Singapore

I think that the parents of the child should be reprimanded and reformed. This poor behaviour must almost certainly rub off on to the child creating a vicious cycle when the child becomes an adult, thus never resolving the problem. Expelling the child is not the answer, however, as the child is already being punished for something he or she cannot help by having abusive parents.

Surely it would be better to arrest the parents rather than preventing their children from getting an education? Assault is a still an offence as far as I'm aware.
Christopher Cradock, UK

I say bring back the cane

I think it's about time head teachers had more of a say about parents who attack them. I was in a school as a parent, when another parent went for myself and a teacher because we were concerned about a pupil who had been disruptive and had been bullying another child. It just shows the child that, if a grown adult thinks they can abuse other adults, then it is ok to do the same. I don't care if people think I'm wrong but I say bring back the cane. There was hardly any trouble when teachers could use it. Nowadays a teacher cannot even tell a child off without a parent thinking they're better educated than the teachers. I agree that children whose parents attack a teacher should be taken away from the school.

Anyone who thinks this is a good idea needs to spend 5 minutes with someone who knows what they're talking about. There surely can't be any law that would support punishing one person for someone else's actions. Beyond punishment, it's a life-sentence - denying a child an education would clearly ruin their life, for something they didn't do or have any control over. This is mob mentality and will do nothing to protect teachers - how would you expect an already "violent" person to react when treated like this? The message is "we don't care about your child or their future, we only care about finding an easy way to deal with the problem".
Leigh, USA (UK orig)

Basically, what goes around, comes around. Banning abusive parents will never resolve this problem. Children of parents who are violent or verbally abusive will grow up to be the same. Children always reflect what their parents are or were like when they grow older, so this is a no-win situation for both parents and schools. What needs to be done is simple - a return to the old style of education, pre-war lifestyles whereby respectful behaviour was drilled into children and the parents did most of this moral standards teaching. It seems now, though, it is too late to reverse this current lack of moral standards and if attempts were made, it would take many, many years to return the British people to respectable and morally decent people. All that went out the window when Thatcher got in.
Mikeal, Germany

What about children having more rights against bullying teachers?

Louise, UK
What about children having more rights against bullying teachers? Sure there are abusive parents and violent pupils, but in my experience and having listened to similar tales from my peers there are probably as many if not more abusive and bullying teachers out there destroying numerous children's self-esteem through their petty-minded behaviour. I don't deny there are some wonderful teachers out there - I was lucky enough to be taught by some. I agree teachers have to put up with more stress and abuse then the average worker does.

But my memories and many of my friends' memories of school are coloured by teachers who 'got off' on bullying children. By all means destroy more children's lives because they are unlucky enough to have abusive and violent parents - just a few more future adult lives ruined by people too pathetic to get a job dealing with adults.
Louise, UK

It doesn't make any sense to punish children for what their parents do, unless the child itself is errant. The converse is true. Persistent child offenders are usually the responsibility of parents and if the child is unruly then the parents should be punished as well as the child.
Bilal Patel, London, UK

Bad idea. Parents who act in violence are not likely to care about the education of their children. This idea is harmful only to the unfortunate child of incompetent parents.
M. Belavit, Canada

Expelling the students and banning parents is just treating the symptoms, not the source of the problem

I think maybe we need to know why the parents are getting violent, how these situations are occurring and what could be done to prevent things getting to such a level of tension that violence occurs. Expelling the students and banning parents is just treating the symptoms, not the source of the problem.

I absolutely support the right to exclude children for their parents' behaviour. As a prospective teacher starting PGCE in September, I feel very frustrated that more and more teachers are expected to deal with all of society's problems without any actual power to deal with the rising yob culture in society!!
Matt, UK

Schools need to have a policy for dealing with violent and aggressive parents, but expelling the pupil is definitely the wrong way to go about things. There is a general lack of respect for authority, which is becoming more prevalent throughout the UK. I deal with many young people through youth work and find their attitude to other people and their possessions more and more disconcerting. There needs to be a greater ability to discipline pupils and instil a sense of respect for authority, which will hopefully feed through to future generations.
Dave, UK

Yes, I agree that teachers need protection from such individuals who are violent and dangerous, but there is no reason to punish their children for this. Chances are that the children already have a very difficult home life, and education may be the only way for them to better themselves and avoid becoming carbon copies of their parents. Only education can break this cycle.
Melanie Torrance, Scotland

Parental violence against teachers, as with violence against any other member of society, is a crime and should be referred to the police. If necessary, the parent should be banned from the school but never the child. A child with an aggressive parent might follow their lead but then they might, given the opportunity, use education to get them out of that particular social cycle. The sins of the father may be visited upon the son but not in this case.
Brian Smith, UK

No way should teachers have to put up with attacks from parents on top of an already tough job

Dave Riley, UK
Why not give all head-teachers the power to ban any particular parent from coming into the school (except perhaps for parents evenings and the like). Make this enforceable with fines/community service/prison. First offence, give the parent an immediate ban (on top of anything the law already provides if they are convicted of assault) but most importantly the head should be able to ban the disruptive parent from the school without waiting for the courts to convict them of assault. No way should teachers have to put up with attacks from parents on top of an already tough job, but expelling the child will only damage the child's education, without hurting the parent.
Dave Riley, UK

To suggest expelling pupils instead of taking remedial action against the parents is ludicrous!
Karen Wallace, UK

As far as I'm concerned leave these kids alone, they've got enough on their plate without this ridiculous idea. Jail the violent parents and the idiots who thought up this preposterous punishment.
Lee, UK

I wouldn't put up with being assaulted in my workplace and I don't see why teachers should have to put up with it in theirs either. If you want to attract the right sort of people into teaching then you have to at least be able to offer personal safety. Maybe it is not right that the children of violent parents should suffer however nobody in the school system can be expected to work in fear of assault.
Sean, UK

In my opinion parents are responsible for problems leading to violence because they don't have time for kids, to give them affection, attention and care. Parents don't have time to listen, to notice any changes.
Shawn Ashworth, Canada

We don't even make parents responsible for their children's actions in this country, how can we make children responsible for their parents?

Graeme, England
We don't even make parents responsible for their children's actions in this country, how can we make children responsible for their parents? It has to be both or neither. In any situation involving violence or anti-social behaviour the only policy that seems to really work is zero tolerance. Surrounding the perpetrators in cotton wool and psycho-babble just panders to their ego's and rewards destructive behaviour.
Graeme, England

It is unusual for kids to be punished for their parents' rage. School is a civic place where kids are educated for tomorrow's responsibilities. Therefore, they should never be robbed of a chance to live well for the irresponsible papas and mamas. It is up to the Board of Governers to en act rules regarding this rage and spelled out to the parents. Any breach of these rules should be punishable in the civil courts. For pity's sake don't deny any kid an education!
Baby, Canada

Punishing a child because of bad parenting is as wrong as punishing a child because the teachers are incompetent, both of which bring about this social mess that intellectuals have decided to label, 'School Rage'. Parents seem to think that, since they have no effect on anything else that goes on in their lives, they might as well kick up a fuss about their kids at school.
Michael Hill, England

Teachers must feel absolutely safe in the school place. Yes children should be expelled whose parents have assaulted teachers,
Paul Fitzpatrick, New Zealand

What sort of world are you namby pambys living in?

Mark, UK
Yes! What sort of world are you namby pambys living in? Do you go to work with a threat of violence as you sit in your office surfing the net? Is your car scratched when you try to drive home? Do 15 year olds threaten you with their parents at the sandwich shop at lunchtime? We are talking about rough parents and rough kids. What would you say when your well-behaved, well-parented kids have no teacher. The teacher is in hospital after "psycho kid's" parents "punched her lights out"! And no, I am not a teacher, just living in the real world!
Mark, UK

My goodness how naive some parents are. Volker, the vast majority of these parents are on benefit anyway and could not afford to pay a fine. Di whilst your suggestion is not quite so daft, how can schools teach kids moral behaviour when it is undermined by the parents. Also if the kid has done nothing wrong why would the parents be raging at the school anyway.
Philip Levy, UK

Children should not always be made to pay for the sins of the father. Maybe if teachers had a little more authority then they would feel a little more confident about handling any situation
Cliff, united kingdom

Punishing children for the actions of their parents is one of the most ridiculous ideas I have ever heard of. These children are likely to be the ones who need most help and will be hurt most by rejection from the system. The parents should be punished and the family situation investigated to make sure violence does not also occur in the home.
Andrew McDonough, UK

Isn't assault a criminal offence?

Rob Harris, UK
What?! Isn't assault a criminal offence? Is our system of law and order now deemed so ineffective that alternative methods of dissuasion must be employed, even by those internal to the establishment...?
Rob Harris, UK

Children learn how to behave from the actions of others surrounding them. Not only is it unfair to punish an individual for the actions of others over whom they have no control, but excluding children from school on the grounds of their parents' behaviour simply removes the opportunity to show the child that the behaviour was out of line. In addition, where do these children go? If they are excluded from every school, they end up being taught at home - in which case their parents become the dominant role models. Certainly parental violence is not acceptable, but it is assault, and there are mechanisms within the law to punish an assailant. They should be used, and all involved should see them to have been used.
Craig Graham, UK

The teaching unions seem to have lost any concept of treating children fairly. First they want no right of appeal against expulsion, and now they want the right to expel children for things which aren't their fault. I appreciate the teachers' concerns, but I don't see how you can justify screwing up children's futures in order to make teachers' lives easier. Of course, if teachers would be happy to have no right of appeal against being sacked, or be sacked because a relative got a criminal conviction, I might see things differently.
CNS, Durham, England

Why should teachers put up with violent parents?

Andrew Torrance, Wales, UK
Why should teachers put up with violent parents? Educating children needs a joint effort between parents and teachers. If a joint effort cannot be made for whatever reason, then the environment should be changed so that it is possible. That may mean educating children elsewhere. In addition to the best interests of the child, how can teachers hold discipline if they have an unruly pupil who believes that if they are punished for wrong-doing, then a parent will intervene and use violence against the teacher? Banning children if parents resort to violence is not punishing the child, it is serving the best interest of the child, and the rest of the children in that class also.
Andrew Torrance, Wales , UK

We would all like our children to go to school and learn (and play) with the minimum disruption. While it seems unfair that one child should be punished for their parents' behaviour, it seems a worse injustice that whole classes should suffer due to the anxiety and stress these incidents cause. At the end of the day we want our children to interact with children of similar social levels, and for this reason families who do not find a school 'compatible' to their requirements should be encouraged to move their children. I am not an advocate of discrimination, but we must not allow the few to spoil the chances of the many.
Chris Fincham, UK

I will never condone any attack on a teacher, however let me point out the frustration that occurs when your child as been treated unfairly or even in a cruel way. Do not bother trying to deny this happens. I vividly remember it happening to me, and see no reason to think it's any different now.
Glyn Rawlingson, UK

Make assaulting anyone in the school as difficult as possible for the parents

Lisa Morrissey-Finnigan, USA
I say yes - make assaulting ANYONE in the school as difficult as possible for the parents and definitely make them enrol their child in another school. Let them live with their children complaining that they have no friends at the new school. Let these lovely parents become their children's only friends.
Lisa Morrissey-Finnigan, New York, USA

Human society without minimal discipline will not last much longer. So a family without correct relations between parents and children is heading towards destruction or anarchy. First responsibility for growing children is not the teacher's but the parent's.
John Tripon, Romania

How can it be the child's fault? This idea will cause more problems than it tries to solve. If a child is expelled due to their parents' fault, then that child will probably gain hatred and anger towards their parents for moving them away from their school friends. This could make an intelligent and non-aggressive child feel victimised. This is pretty much discrimination. Parents should be dealt with in a court of law, not dealt with by upsetting the child's future.
Josh, UK

Teachers need to be protected

Carl Roberts, British in Switzerland
Teachers need to be protected. They have very little power to discipline the children generally and are always being abused in the press by parents. Failure to protect the teachers and the continuing decline in the respect (and money) given to them will chase out even more of the good ones and leave us with a poor education system. Who am I kidding, it's already been happening.
Carl Roberts, British in Switzerland

No, let the kids go to school, but fine the parents heavily.
Volker, England (ex Germany)

No no no. This is punishing a child for something beyond his/her control. Parental violence towards school authority should be a big red flag - that the child may be a victim of family violence and should be protected as much as possible. If a violent parent is punished, it is all too likely that they will make the child suffer. Schools should teach respect for the law and invoke legal recourse where necessary. Expelling a student is not the answer - IF the student has done nothing wrong.
Di Stewart, USA

Send us your comments:

Your E-mail Address:



Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

28 May 01 | Education
Violent parents in 'school rage'
23 Mar 01 | Education
Parents warned: No 'aggro' in school
06 Apr 00 | Education
Heads fear violent parents
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Talking Point stories