School Puts Child on Bathroom Cleaning Duty to Punish Him

bathroomBullying isn't something that should ever be taken lightly. It's a serious problem in schools that should have serious repercussions. But should cleaning the bathroom be one of those repercussions?

After a bullying incident, a fifth grader was given the task of cleaning the bathrooms in his elementary school in Berkeley, California, for six days. The students who were reportedly involved in the bullying were apparently given options for their punishment; they could choose from things like cleaning the bathrooms (which the school says didn't involve scrubbing), sweeping the auditorium, or picking up trash on the playground. The student who chose to clean the bathroom is making headlines, because he contracted whooping cough shortly after serving his punishment.


His mother, Magdalene King’ori, has since filed a complaint with the school. The school "does not think" King'ori's son got whooping cough from cleaning the bathroom since all it involved was picking paper towels up off of the floor while wearing gloves. But still, it begs the question: Is this, or any "chore," a good punishment for schools to dole out?

Sure, years ago, teachers would have students go outside and bang erasers as a means to teach them a lesson for some wrongdoing or another, but ... did it really accomplish anything? (In fact, didn't some kids, especially if they had a partner, like banging the erasers?) Banging erasers, cleaning bathrooms, picking up trash -- aren't these punishments similar to ones parents would pick at home? They're chores more or less. Wouldn't a more appropriate punishment, particularly for something as serious as bullying, be detention, or the loss of a school privilege, such as playing on a sports team, or having to sit out of a fun school event, like a class trip (along with a class or seminar on bullying)? Something about having a kid clean the bathroom just seems so ... personal. And, to be honest, kind of antiquated.

We highly doubt the kids who were given the tasks of tidying up the school grounds learned much -- particularly now that one of the students' parents has filed a complaint against the school. Teaching kids to clean bathrooms (and using it as punishment) is something better suited for parents. Schools should focus more on school-centric punishments. Parents can't give kids detention at home, after all.

What do you think of teachers having students clean bathrooms? What do you think an appropriate punishment for bullying is?


Image via Terry Johnston/Flickr

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