Zero Tolerance Policies in American Schools Essay

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In all grades of education, from kindergarten to college, there is a form of discipline known as a zero tolerance policy. While the exact wording is different from school to school, basically a zero tolerance policy means that a student is immediately suspended, asked to attend an alternative school, or expelled if they are suspected or caught doing certain things. These policies are in place to hopefully deter students from doing drugs or being violent, but the ethics behind them are questionable. Some research has shown that these policies may not even work, and other forms of discipline would be better suited to help students. The three main activities that result in the zero tolerance policy are being caught with drugs or alcohol, …show more content…

(Skager 6). These sorts of policies actually help students instead of punishing them, which is a great benefit to all students, schools, and communities. Zero tolerance policies can cause students to lose respect for teachers and all adults, and make them more likely to continue to use drugs and be involved in disruptive behavior (Mongan and Walker 234). Another issue with zero tolerance policies is the immediate one year suspension for students who bring a weapon to school. This policy started with the Gun Free Schools Act of 1994 (Boccanfuso and Kuhfeld). The zero tolerance policy for weapons immediately punishes any and all students found to have a weapon in their possession. Many schools have also punished students for pretend weapons, such as a bubble gun, or an Eagle Scout who had a pocket knife in his possession (Newcomb)(Lott). There is a huge difference between a student having a pocket knife in his car or a gun in his hand, but zero policies are meant to punish all students the same at the discretion of a school official (Boccanfuso). The kindergartener who was originally issued a 10 day suspension for what the school deemed a terrorist threat had only told a friend that they should shoot each other with her bubble gun. The bubble gun was not even in her possession. After undergoing a psychological evaluation it was determined that the student was not a threat and her suspension was shortened to

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