Should They Stay or Should They Go?: A Look at Zero-Tolerance Policies in Schools

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Who hasn’t heard of the Columbine shooting, where in the spring of 1999 in Littleton, Colorado over a dozen people where killed and many others were wounded at the hands of two students? Or even more recently, who does not know about the Virginia Tech massacre where a single student killed thirty-two people and wounded over twenty more? University of Texas, California State University, San Diego State University, the list of school violence is long and heart-breaking. Students and teachers have lost their lives by the dozens to gunmen that carried a grudge for some reason or another. These are extreme cases, for sure, and there is without a doubt a need for discipline in schools every where. However, zero-tolerance policies are not the …show more content…

Other examples from the public school crime blotter: A 6-year-old boy in York, Pa., was suspended for carrying a pair of nail clippers to school. A second-grader in Columbus, Ohio, was suspended for drawing a paper gun, cutting it out and pointing it at classmates. . . . A 12-year-old Florida boy was handcuffed and jailed after he stomped in a puddle, splashing classmates. A 13-year-old boy in Manassas, Va., who accepted a Certs breath mint from a classmate was suspended and required to attend drug-awareness classes. Jewish youths in several schools were suspended for wearing the Star of David, sometimes used as a symbol of gang membership.
Zero-tolerance policies punish all offenses severely, no matter how minor. School systems began adopting the tough codes after Congress passed the 1994 Gun-Free Schools Act, which required one-year expulsions for any child bringing a firearm or bomb to school.
But zero-tolerance rules in many states also cover fighting, drug or alcohol use and gang activity, as well as relatively minor offenses like possessing over-the-counter medications, disrespect of authority, sexual harassment, threats and vandalism. More than 90 percent of U.S. public schools had zero-tolerance policies for firearms or other weapons in 1997, and more than 85 percent had the policies for drugs and alcohol. . . . In some jurisdictions, carrying cough drops, wearing black

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