Essay about Zero Tolerance Policies in American Schools

Essay about Zero Tolerance Policies in American Schools

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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, being caught with a weapon, and bullying.
Drugs and alcohol are a big problem everywhere, but school administrators and teachers want to make sure that students are able to reach their full potential and drug use would greatly hinder that. However, according to the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey 39.9% of students have tried marijuana and 70.8% of students have drank alcohol (YRBSS 2011 National Overview). If schools were to expel every student because of drug or alcohol use, there would hardly be any students left. A booklet published by the Drug Policy Alliance has research that shows that zero tolerance policies do not deter drug and alcohol use. Drug and alcohol use continues to rise in schools, and many schools do not do anything to help combat it except for harsh disciplinary procedures. Most elementary schools have drug education programs, but the same type of education does not work well with teenagers. The Drug Policy Alliance advocates for a three step process to help students instead of p...

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...ol for 20 Days for Keeping Pocketknife in Car." FOX News Network, 13 Oct. 2009. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.
Mongan, Philip, and Robert Walker. ""The Road to Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions": A Historical, Theoretical, and Legal Analysis of Zero-Tolerance Weapons Policies in American Schools." Preventing School Failure 56.4 (2012): 232-40. Academic Search Complete. Web. 15 Feb. 2014.
Newcomb, Alyssa. "Kindergartner Suspended Over Bubble Gun Threat." ABC News Network, 20 Jan. 2013. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.
Skager, Rodney. "Zero Tolerance." Drug Policy Alliance, 2013. Web. 14 Feb. 2014.
"Support the Kids Involved." U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2014.
"Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System: 2011 National Overview." Center for Disease Control, June 2012. Web. 15 Feb. 2014.

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