Detention and punishment exercises were "quite ineffective" and some parents actively discouraged schools from taking action against their children. Exclusion was the only answer on occasions but it was not a long-term solution, Mr Paterson said.
He added: "The attitude and behaviour of most of our pupils are exemplary, as indeed are the support and hard work of many of our parents, but the trends are worrying and need to be halted and reversed."
The problem had to be addressed with "realism, not cliches".
Mr Paterson also called for educational innovation to be more carefully planned to avoid the disillusionment and discontent that were forcing teachers to leave the profession.