Young children's perceptions of due process in schools’ disciplinary procedures

Lotem Perry-Hazan, Natali Lambrozo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study explored how children of lower primary school grades perceive due process in schools’ disciplinary procedures. While many studies have explored how adolescents perceive school discipline, only a few studies have examined the perceptions of primary school pupils, and no study has investigated lower primary school grades. The qualitative research design was based on semi-structured interviews and focus groups with 70 children, aged 7 to 10, recruited from 19 public schools in Israel. In addition, we recruited a children's advisory group that participated in the research process. The findings revealed that while many of the study participants had internalised a formalistic approach to due process (i.e. meting out uniform punishments in similar cases, in accordance with a closed system of rules), others objected to this approach, providing various reasons for their concerns. Participants’ criticisms of a formalistic due process policy included lack of compassion and lack of understanding of pupils’ social, academic or other difficulties, disregard of pupils’ voice, the complex task of discerning the truth, apprehension over a uniform punitive system and low efficacy of punishments. We argue that the right to due process in schools lies at the intersection of legal and educational narratives. Even young children are able to recognise the inherent incongruity of these narratives, as they constitute a significant part of their daily routine in school. We also argue that this incongruity engenders a distorted due process, thus imparting faulty lessons about the right to due process and its justifications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)827-846
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 British Educational Research Association


  • children's rights
  • due process
  • primary school
  • school discipline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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