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Detention as a consequence for unwanted behavior is a punishment which requires a student to report to a certain area of school at a specific time on a specific day. Most often, detention does not take place during regular school hours (either before or after school or on a Saturday). As a method of punishment, it is believed to be effective for two reasons. The requirement to be at school during non-school hours is typically undesirable for most students. This feature of detention punishes by putting the student in a less desirable environment on his or her own time.
Secondly, detention is typically held in a silent room where students are not permitted to do anything but school work. Many students are bored with the lack of stimulation. Others are able to catch up on missed work because of the lack of distraction.
The basic idea behind detention is that because the student could not participate appropriately during school hours, he or she must pay back the wasted time when it is less convenient. It puts both the student and the parent or guardian at an inconvenience, as transportation is not always provided. If the student is an athlete, detention often interferes practice or games, and can further affect his or her eligibility for upcoming games.
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