- Students in Catholic schools are less likely to act out or be disruptive than those in other private schools or in public schools. According to their teachers, Catholic school children argued, fought, got angry, acted impulsively, and disturbed ongoing activities less frequently.
- Students in Catholic schools exhibit more self-control than those in other private schools or public schools. Specifically, they were more likely to control their temper, respect others’ property, accept their fellow students’ ideas, and handle peer pressure.
- Regardless of demographics, students in Catholic schools exhibit more self-discipline than students in public schools and other private schools. Thus, there is at least some evidence that attending Catholic school may benefit all sorts of children.
It is important to recognize that these findings are not causal. Despite the authors’ efforts to construct a plausible control group, there may be unobservable differences between Catholic and other private school students. Still, the findings suggest three key takeaways.
- Schools that value and focus on self-discipline will likely do a better job of fostering it in children.
- Other schools have something to learn from Catholics schools when it comes to fostering self-discipline.
- We should not underestimate the power of religion to positively influence a child’s behavior—and shouldn’t restrict families’ choices on the basis of religion.
To the extent that school choice programs can widen access to great schools that provide an academic boost and promote self-discipline—Catholic or otherwise—they deserve our eternal support.