Drawbacks of the Zero Tolerance Policy

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Your phone rings while you are at work and you see that it is your child’s school. You answer the phone and the school’s principal tells you that your child has been suspended for one month for bringing a plastic knife in his/her lunch box. You are scheduled for hearings that have no meaning because the decision is irreversible. These are some of the effects of a zero-tolerance policy. Zero tolerance policies should be eliminated because they disproportionately affect African-American and urban youth, continue to feed the cradle to prison pipeline, create a prison culture in urban communities, and provide a devastating long-term outcome for youth. In attempts to prevent violence in schools across the nation, districts have put into place a policy that has caused turmoil and blurred the lines in the meaning of discipline. After the mass shooting at Columbine, many districts cracked down on anything that resembled violence to a point that a student can be suspended for wearing rosary beads to school because they can be interpreted as a sign of gang involvement. This inflexible policy is treating children as suspects and criminals for rather trivial actions. It is to a point where a simple reference to words like “shoot”, or “bomb” could have a child expelled and charged with conspiracy. The policy is blinding students to their rights and it is becoming a form of oppression by the government and the school institution. Statistics are showing that school campuses are safer than most places were fifteen years ago. From 1993 to 2010, school violence has been on a decline but with the implementation of zero-tolerance, dropout rates and a surge of suspensions are on the rise. In the past couple of years, Massachusetts’ school districts ... ... middle of paper ... ...problem solving instead of an intimidating figure such as the principal or other high officials in a school. Also with programs such as D.A.R.E, students can be exposed to the harm of drugs in order to reduce the amount of arrests and other cases involved. All of these solutions are easier said than done with the lack of funding in schools which would allow for these resources to be available for use but with overcrowded classrooms and teachers that have the responsibility of teaching more than humanly possible, they aren’t able to be used for extracurricular activities to aid in student recovery. Work Cited "READ OR GO TO JAIL Literacy and National Reading Statistics, Teaching Reading: Educational CyberPlayGround." Literacy and the National Reading Statistics, Prison Rates and Test Scores Found on the Educational CyberPlayGround. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2014
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