Applying Behavior Analysis to School Violence and Discipline Problems: School-Wide Positive Behavior Support

School discipline is a growing concern in the United States. Educators frequently are faced with discipline problems ranging from infrequent but extreme problems (e.g., shootings) to less severe problems that occur at high frequency (e.g., bullying, insubordination, tardiness, and fighting). Unfortunately, teachers report feeling ill prepared to deal effectively with discipline problems in schools. Further, research suggests that many commonly used strategies, such as suspension, expulsion, and other reactive strategies, are not effective for ameliorating discipline problems and may, in fact, make the situation worse. The principles and technology of behavior analysis have been demonstrated to be extremely effective for decreasing problem behavior and increasing social skills exhibited by school children. Recently, these principles and techniques have been applied at the level of the entire school, in a movement termed "schoolwide positive behavior support". In this paper we review the tenets of schoolwide positive behavior support, demonstrating the relation between this technology and applied behavior analysis.


  • Cynthia M. Anderson
  • Donald Kincaid