Fining Parents for Student Behavior

http://www.swissinfo.org/eng/search/Result.html?siteSect=882&ty=st&sid=10287335

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The Swissinfo.ch article entitled “Parental fines considered for poor show pupils” revealed the drastic measures that some countries have implemented in order to require parental involvement and to try to ensure that students are prepared for class. The article discusses that like neighboring Germany and Austria, parents in some regions in Switzerland face quite heavy fines if their children do not attend school. In some areas of Switzerland, if newer legislation passes, parents will be fined if their children come to school hungry or tired and if the parents do not attend parent-teacher meetings.

Is this sort of financial punishment for parents warranted? Could it really change behavior? Who is likely to still fall between the cracks? What sort of laws are set up in your corner of the world to try to ensure that students are being properly educated?

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14 Responses to Fining Parents for Student Behavior

  1. Sara S. says:

    For some kids who are truly recalcitrant, even physically dropping them off at the school door does not mean that they will go to class. The parent does everything, and is not neglectful, yet a teenager has a fair amount of self-determination. Why should the parent be penalized?

    I am wondering what these countries have in mind in terms of public policy goals? Surely it is most advantageous to educate these kids – perhaps they think fining parents is best way to “encourage” desired behavior. However, I think they should be working on all fronts: what would persuade the kids to attend of their own volition? Perhaps schools with more attractive learning environments, introduction of “positive” peer pressure toward learning, assuring that families have sufficient resources to feed and clothe their kids. No doubt, government investment at this level is more wisely spent than “picking up the pieces” after an underclass of the uneducated is formed.

    Are the truancy/dropout rates rising alarmingly in these countries? In the US, public schools graduate 70% of an estimated 4 million eligible students each spring. Given the huge and diverse US population – many degrees of magnitude larger and more diverse than in Germany or Switzerland – I am curious about what these countries feel has suddenly constituted a crisis.

  2. Nurta San says:

    nice post 🙂

  3. Jeannie says:

    Public School attendance in the US in based on policy implemented locally and legally, and financed largely by local taxpayers. A small perchantage of $ of yearly school budgets comes from Federal tax dollars. US Public education has the responsibility normally to provide an appropropriate education until students reach age 18.

    Fining US public school parents who are also US taxpayers is unchartered water.

    It may be a better idea to develop educational programs for parents so they understand how best to motivate their children to attend school, and encourage students to perform to the best of their abilities. Pairing trained educators and parents with students generally yields very positive results.

  4. Doreen says:

    Our schools use “gimmicks” as a way to encourage students to participate in the basic fundamentals. Such as “do your homework” get a sticker, read 10 books get a bookmark, participate in our fund raiser receive a prize. Kids today are being rewarded for doing what is minimally expected of them. Who did the kids learn that from? From parents who need to be fined for not doing what is expected of them?

  5. Valeria Fleury says:

    I completely agree with Doreen. I am from a country with the reputation of being corrupt, and bribing is unfortunately quite common across many sectors of society, but I still struggle with the idea of rewarding (or bribing) children for what is basically natural, expected behaviour. Even though my son is being raised in a country where the ‘star chart’ is an everyday routine in most families and schools, he knows exactly what is expected from him. Just like we, as parents, are expected to be the role model for them, and not to have to pay a fine for failing to do so.

  6. Namita K says:

    Why should it even come to this – if parents did their job instead of expecting the school to take on the role of parenting, then countries would not have to resort to such extreme measures. Unfortunately we live in such jaded times that a carrot and stick approach has to used in most situations to motivate parents and students!

  7. AASH says:

    Parental punishment for truancy has long since existed. The question to be asked is why these kids are so unmotivated. Society has changed so much in the last 100 years but it has been said that if a person from 1900 alighted in a city today, the one thing he would recognise is a school and the classroom. Innovation has been a slow grind. Check out what 20 Big Picture Schools are doing in the US. “These schools have no teachers, no homework, no tests and no grades and yet their graduating rate is 92%. Started in 1996 the schools sought innovative ways to motivate kids and keep them interested. The program is about helping kids find their passion.”

  8. Judy C. says:

    How many days should a student miss school before a school board begins fining a parent? 3 days? 10 days? 20 days? And what would be the justification behind that decision? Where are the interim steps that encourages collaboration between school and families to work together to educate each child. For anyone who has raised a teenager or is at the stage of raising one, if your school board implemented a fine if you child arrived at your school tired or hungry, be prepared to hand over a lot of money as this is the norm for most teenagers – a skewed internal clock and a constant state of hunger. I believe the solution of fining a parent is an extreme measure and the fact they are considering it speakes to the chaos that is happening in so many countries and school systems.

  9. Carola says:

    I think the issue here is the fact that many parents are in denial about how disruptive their children’s behavior can be to the rest of the school. The tired and hungry example is probably an extreme. The chronically tardy student interrupts the classroom and the lesson plan. The perpetually absent student takes up a great deal of teacher time in order to follow up and work out a “make up” schedule. The school cannot take on all these responsibilities.

  10. Karen says:

    Educating a child involves three parties. The child, the school and the family. The school and the parents should make a joint effort to see that a student receives the best education possible. Right now in our public school system, a family is “encouraged” to pay $43 or so for the lost ADA (Average Daily Attendance)if a child misses school. They usually miss school because they are on a ski vacation though vs. the student choosing to “skip” school. In this case, it is all about the budget and school funding. Kids who come to school without having eaten breakfast are supposed to be provided with a hot meal but I have never seen that happen. Fining parents for their lack of parenting skills can be dicey though. I agree with Jeannie that one has to remember in the U.S. that is the taxpayer’s dollar so how do you fine them on their own money? I would love to see a program such as what AASH described. Looking at the problem as a whole and not putting all the blame on the parent. How do we help a child find their passion and instill inner motivation vs. giving them the same classroom environment we were taught in decades ago. How can this new tech age help?

  11. Anne says:

    If students are truant, that is an issue to be addressed with the parents, they are the ones in charge. But parents shouldn’t be rewarded for doing what is right!!
    Of course parents are responsible for the behaviour of their children. If parents are not responsible than who is? Parents should be held accountable for all their children’s actions, even outside of the home. But in saying this, there are always the exceptional cases where the child suffers from learning difficulties or some condition that affects behaviour and those situations should be taken into account. The majority of badly behaved children however are that way because of bad parenting. I don’t know what exactly but something needs to be done to improve this situation.

    I recently discovered that in the primary school I attended which my nieces and nephews now attend that the school announced a US$10 fine would be introduced if any child failed to attend school without a valid reason. Since this announcement my sister told me that the levels of truancy in the school have dramatically dropped. And parents and teachers are very pleased with this. However, on another note, would it be better for parents and child to attend morality lectures or parenting classes than to fine parents?

  12. Claudia says:

    The reasoning behind fining parents for missed school days in Germany is NOT to fine for wrong student behavior. Schools have noted a dramatic increase of missed school days due to traveling plans, since the travel expenses go down dramatically outside the school holidays. The government tries to enforce every student’s Right for Learning. If fining is the best method needs to be answered.

  13. Vicky Singh says:

    To me, as a parent, this article is a catalyst to think about what environment I am creating as a caretaker to encourage healthy living (eating well, resting, etc) and good learning habits (quite study area, time to relax, etc). Obviously, fines are not a long term solution to the issue at hand but rather a tool to evaluate what works well and what could use some intervention.

  14. Theresa says:

    Unfortunately, if a child’s behaviour is determined to be “horrible” enough to warrant a fine levied on the parents, it is likely that the parents have many more issues to be taking up with the child and the fine will not be very effective at solivng the root of the problem.

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