The purpose of the present study was to examine the types of discipline enforcement measures employed in the Israeli elementary and junior high schools, and their fairness as viewed by students. The central hypothesis was that patterns of discipline enforcement vary considerably depending on school characteristics. These patterns, in turn, together with students' sex, socioeconomic and ethnic background, and academic status within the school, determine students' perceptions of justice concerning misbehavior management. It was found that junior high school teachers rely more on problem-centered, and elementary school teachers rely more on relationship-centered techniques of discipline enforcement. However, in spite of these differences and the report of about half of the students that they personally had been unfairly treated, the majority of the respondents reported that the punishments employed in their school were generally fair, and that the severity of punishments was in the right proportion to the severity of the misconduct. Students' traits have accounted for only a small percentage of the variance of the various dimensions of justice that were examined. It has been suggested that students' perceptions of justice are related to an overall tendency to perceive schools' authority as legitimate rather than to schools' structural characteristics, misbehavior management techniques, and students' traits. Several possible bases of schools' legitimation are discussed.
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|Published - Mar 1987