Zero Tolerance Essay

983 words - 4 pages

Zero Tolerance
Looking back on my own educational experience the words, “zero tolerance” vaguely strike a chord. If I am not mistaken I believe that our district adopted the zero tolerance policy between my junior and senior year (96/97-97/98 respectfully) as a means to hinder bullying/violence among the students. As I consider my years in high school I do not recall violence being a normal occurrence, with the exception of your random argument turned, “meet me at short stop,” dispute, nor do I remember drugs being a large concern among parents and/or school personnel. Perhaps I was naïve or maybe it turns out that it just wasn’t something to be considered a problem. There is an exception to every rule; however, I trust that during my high school career violence and drug abuse and its distribution was not the norm…
Following the Columbine tragedy in 1999, “school systems across the nation introduced the zero-tolerance policies aimed at the curtailment of harmful student behaviors” (Noll, 2014, p. 295). The original focus of the policies was to eliminate the use/carrying of weapons but soon after spread to restricting drugs and medication (2014). By 2006 95% of the U.S. public schools had adopted the zero-tolerance policies and more than half of them reported taking significant action against students, many of which resulted in expulsion (2014). While the zero-tolerance polices were originally welcomed by all members of a community as a means of promoting and keeping a safer environment-- as of late many individuals are questioning the relevance of some actions and some school officials (2014).
What originally set out to be a policy deemed to create a safer environment in our schools has communities now taking part in what many would consider extreme behaviors? In Nebraska 3 year-old deaf boy is being intimidated by school officials to change his name because the hand sign for Hunter Spanjer resembles a weapon; An 8 year-old student in Baltimore tried to chew his Pop-Tart into the shape of a mountain and when it turned out to look more like a gun, so he said, “bang bang”… he was suspended for this actions; a 7 year-old Virginia boy was suspended for pretending a pencil was a gun (Jensen, 2013). Has school officials taken their punishments too far?
I find that I agree with Jensen (2013) when he states, “What did the boy learn? He learned that admitting to doing something he didn’t know was bad behavior will get you the maximum punishment. He learned that apologizing for doing something that he didn’t know was bad behavior will get you the maximum punishment. He also learned that teachers and principals do not want to teach children that pencils can be dangerous. They want to teach you that using your imagination to pretend an object...

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