The Harm Of Zero Tolerance Essay

939 words - 4 pages

Richer 1Brian RicherCameron YarboroughEnglish 321 January 2014THE HARM OF ZERO TOLERANCEAt the end of the 80's school shootings were on a rise, and the drug epidemic was nowhere close to solved. Oakland, Cleveland, Iowa City, Olive Hurst and dozens of others, left this period with record highs in gun violence. With parents frantic and the Clinton Administration in its infancy, the US government was forced to act in some way to these horrific acts. Their solution was passed in 1994 as an amendment to the Improving America's Schools Act of 1965, which mandated zero tolerance gun policies with a one year expulsion for offending students. As these policies rolled out opposition rose about how unfair and harmful these new rules were to children. Because of a lack of effectiveness, and the emotional harm that they cause it is clear that these policies must be torn apart and rebuilt upon a policy of early psychological screening, and armed police officers for the safety of the students.A whole range of studies, along with hard evidence, have shown that these policies are not only ineffective, but are likely counterproductive. The 90's totaled 49 gun related fatalities in schools with these policies in place, and the following decade brought with it 87 deaths. Simply offering up a penalty for bringing a gun to school is not enough to stop a shooter with suicide on his mind, as many of these tragedies have ended. Not only are these policies ineffective, but they have also been found to be harmful to the students they are meant to protect. A recent study by MIT showed that these harsh penalties actually cause many students to avoid reporting criminal behavior for fear of losing friendships. They found no hard example of zero tolerance gun controls actually controlling gun violence. A history of irrational punishments for minor offences has made a laughing stock out of school officials, leaving it just as easy to perform these violent acts.So then the question is, why zero tolerance? Why not simply deal with incidents on a case by case basis? Well the original concept was that if a rule is set in stone then this limits the chance of discrimination or bribery in the court. While this is true, more often than not instead of preventing a minority from suffering, these policies have forced the innocent to suffer for what would otherwise not even be a noteworthy event. "Weapons Offences" include cases of knives to cut food, finger paper and pop-tart guns, and hollow threats that you could hear any child say. The list goes on, but the point is that if no discretion is given to the nature of the weapon possession then suspension or expulsion can and has been placed upon innocent students. And this punishment is a heavy burden to shoulder. A report by sociologist Nina Hazen linked even one childhood suspension to a large increase in...

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