Schools inevitably must deal with disciplinary action when it comes to misconduct in students. However, at what point should the courts and law enforcement intervene? “Zero tolerance” policies started as a trend in the school setting during the 1990s in “response to the widespread perception that juvenile violence was increasing and school officials needed to take desperate measures to address the problem” (Aull 2012:182-183). However, national statistics indicated a decrease in juvenile’s share of crime during the influx of zero tolerance policies in schools (National Crime Justice Reference Service 2005).
‘Zero-tolerance’ policies criminalize minor infractions of school rules, while high-stakes testing programs encourage educators to push out low-performing students to improve their schools’ overall test scores. Students of color are especially vulnerable to push-out trends and the discriminatory application of discipline (Gabbard 2013:33).
Gabbard’s (2013) application of zero tolerance policies goes hand in hand with this phenomenon known as the school-to-prison pipeline (STPP). Archer (2009:868) defines the STPP as “the collection of education and public safety policies and practices that push our nation’s schoolchildren out of the classroom and into the streets, the juvenile justice system, or the criminal justice system.” When Fowler (2011:16) studied the STPP, they concluded that “...the single greatest predictor of future involvement in the juvenile system is a history of disciplinary referrals at school.” Because of its huge predictor of criminality, this is a serious issue that must be analyzed to prevent a catastrophic and vicious cycle that forces society’s children out of school, int...
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...n attempting to research this phenomenon. The research of juveniles and especially of their criminal conduct brings up many ethical issues and dilemmas. Participants’ guardians should be made aware of the research being conducted and participant confidentiality should be one of the researcher’s main priorities. An issue that may arise is the lack of guardian support for involvement in the research. In order to overcome this possible dilemma, informational packets should be created to hand out to guardians, which will include information about the research experiment. Confidentiality should be stressed and other than the survey or in-person interview, the observations by the researcher will be primarily unobtrusive, so guardians should be reassured that their approval in their child’s participation is only beneficial to bring about policy changes in school settings.
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