Main Article Content



A national dialogue on school discipline has now reemerged in the United States as many educators struggle with how to maintain a balance of cultural responsiveness and high expectations when addressing student transgressions on their campuses. While the field of child development, counseling psychology, and communications pose theoretical responses to such dilemmas, this article aims specifically to address the procedural challenges of dealing with verbal abuse from students and adults. Through the lens of a social justice educator, the author offers practical, humanizing steps that are intended to help secondary school educators engage with students in a way that emphasizes boundaries, respect, and reflection for students and adults alike.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Author Biography

DARRICK SMITH, University of San Francisco

Darrick Smith is associate professor of Leadership Studies at University of San Francisco, USA.


  1. Akom, Antwi A. 2003. “Reexamining Resistance as Oppositional Behavior: The Nation of Islam and the Creation of a Black Achievement Ideology.” Sociology of Education 76(4): 305-325.
  2. Baumrind, Diana. 2005. “Patterns of Parental Authority and Adolescent Autonomy.” New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development 2005(108): 61-69.
  3. Bergen, Benjamin K. 2016. What the F: What Swearing Reveals about our Language, our Brains, and Ourselves. New York: Basic Books.
  4. Bohanon, Hank, Pamela Fenning, Kelly L. Carney, Myoung J. Minnis-Kim, Sarah Anderson-Harriss, Kristyn B. Moroz, Kira J. Hicks, Beverly B. Kasper, Carrie Culos and Wayne Sailor. 2006. “Schoolwide Application of Positive Behavior Support in an Urban High School: A Case Study.” Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions 8(3): 131-145.
  5. Bradshaw, Catherine P., Christine W. Koth, Leslie A. Thornton and Philip J. Leaf. 2009. “Altering School Climate through School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports: Findings from a Group-Randomized Effectiveness Trial.” Prevention Science 10(2):100-115.
  6. Chomsky, Noam and Chomsky Noam. 2002. On Nature and Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  7. Civille, Gail V. and Harry T. Lawless. 1986. “The Importance of Language in Describing Perceptions.” Journal of Sensory Studies 1(3‐4): 203-215.
  8. curse out. 2019. Retrieved May 12, 2019 (
  9. DeFrank, Melanie and Patricia Kahlbaugh. 2019. “Language Choice Matters: When Profanity Affects how People are Judged.” Journal of Language and Social Psychology 38(1): 126-141.
  10. Freire, Paulo. 2000. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. 30th Anniv. Ed. New York: Continuum 35.
  11. Frie, Roger and Donna Orange. 2013. Beyond Postmodernism: New Dimensions in Clinical Theory and Practice. New York: Routledge.
  12. Greenleaf, Robert K. 2002. Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness. New York: Paulist Press.
  13. Harro, Bobble. 2000. “The Cycle of Socialization.” Pp. 15-21 in Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, edited by M. Adams, W. Blumenfeld, R. Castaneda, H. Hackman, M. Peters, and X. Zuniga. New York: Routledge.
  14. Hodge, Robert and Gunther R. Kress. 1993. Language as Ideology. London: Routledge.
  15. Jackson, Linda A., Yong Zhao, Wei Qiu, Anthony Kolenic III, Hiram E. Fitzgerald, Rena Harold and Alexander Von Eye. 2008. “Cultural Differences in Morality in the Real and Virtual Worlds: A Comparison of Chinese and US Youth.” CyberPsychology & Behavior 11(3): 279-286.
  16. Jay, Timothy and Kristin Janschewitz. 2008. “The Pragmatics of Swearing.” Journal of Politeness Research. Language, Behaviour, Culture 4(2):267-288.
  17. Jordaan, Eduard. 2009. “Dialogic Cosmopolitanism and Global Justice.” International Studies Review 11(4): 736-748.
  18. Joseph, Errol E. and Bruce E. Winston. 2005. “A Correlation of Servant Leadership, Leader Trust, and Organizational Trust.” Leadership & Organization Development Journal 26(1): 6-22.
  19. Killen, Melanie and J. G. Smetana. 2005. Handbook of Moral Development. Manwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  20. Mayseless, Ofra and Miri Scharf. 2009. “Too Close for Comfort: Inadequate Boundaries with Parents and Individuation in Late Adolescent Girls.” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 79(2): 191-202.
  21. Musu, Lauren, Anlan Zhang, Ke Wang, Jizhi Zhang and Barbara Oudekerk. 2019. Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2018. U.S. Department of Education. Washington: NCES, IES.
  22. Park, Nansook and Christopher Peterson. 2006. “Moral Competence and Character Strengths among Adolescents: The Development and Validation of the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths for Youth.” Journal of Adolescence 29(6): 891-909.
  23. Shields, Carolyn M. and Mark M. Edwards. 2005. Dialogue is Not just Talk: A New Ground for Educational Leadership. New York, NY: Peter Lang.
  24. Shields, Carolyn M. and Erica J. Mohan. 2008. “High‐quality Education for all Students: Putting Social Justice at its Heart.” Teacher Development 12(4): 289-300.
  25. Stapleton, Karyn. 2003. “Gender and Swearing: A Community Practice.” Women and Language 26(2): 22-33.
  26. Stephens, Richard, John Atkins and Andrew Kingston. 2009. “Swearing as a Response to Pain.” Neuroreport 20(12): 1056-1060.
  27. Tschannen-Moran, Megan. 2014. Trust Matters: Leadership for Successful Schools. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.
  28. Widdowson, Henry G. 1989. “Knowledge of Language and Ability for Use.” Applied Linguistics 10(2): 128-137.
  29. Winters, Alaina M. and Steve Duck. 2001. “You****!: Swearing as an Aversive and a Relational Activity.” Pp. 59-77 in Behaving badly: Aversive behaviors in interpersonal relationships, edited by R. M. Kowlaski. American Psychological Association.