Zero Tolerance Policies

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Zero Tolerance: More Harm than Good The punishment does not always fit the crime. Zero tolerance was initially defined as a policy that enforces automatic suspensions and expulsions in response to weapons, drugs, and violent acts in school. Today these polices have changes to include a range of less serious offenses such as violation of dress code, writing on the desk, and tardiness. Zero tolerance policies began as a way to protect children from potentially violent situations. Over the years, these policies designed to protect are now doing more harm than good. Children are being punished for simply being children. Zero tolerance policies need to be replaced because these harsh policies have resulted in an increasing number of suspensions,…show more content…
These harsh policies cause children to distrust authority and as a result, they often become disengaged. “ Students who are suspended or expelled usually become disengaged from school and are at a greater risk for dropping out before graduation in other words zero tolerance forces exclusion upon students” (Findlay 119). Furthermore, these policies have caused students to drop out of school. By far the worst result of these policies is students committing suicide. “Zero tolerance policies in Fairfax County, Virginia, recently became the center of intense controversy when a successful student-athlete committed suicide after his removal from school for possession of a legal but controlled substance” (Skiba 29). Fifteen-year-old model student and football player Nick Stuban committed suicide because of harsh zero tolerance punishment. Nick made a bad decision on November 3 he bought a capsule of the legal substance JWH108, a synthetic compound with a marijuana-like effect, from a classmate. His suspension was supposed to be for 10 days with the possibility of expulsion. The suspension dragged on for seven weeks. School officials also banned Nick from school property during that time, which included sporting events. He soon felt isolated and felt he was losing his friends. Next came a disciplinary hearing that would decide his fate. Three weeks after the hearing, the ruling was in and Nick had to transfer…show more content…
“The need for less-punitive methods in the reduction of problem behaviors in schools and mandated intervention is catching momentum, with a growing number of advocacy organizations and membership associations calling for more effective and fair approaches to school discipline” (Teasley 133). Zero tolerance policies need to be replaced with reasonable punishments, counseling, and programs designed to help the students. One alternative that some schools are finding success with is restorative justice
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