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Should schools drop zero-tolerance policies for student behavior?


The news has been littered these days with stories of students being suspended or expelled for violating zero-tolerance policies.

In this age of escalating school violence, it’s natural to look for strong solutions that will protect children and bring us peace of mind.

But is it fair to expel a boy who brings a tiny toy soldier to school because the administration is unwilling to bend to particular rules?

Catch-all solutions could seem like the answer but in reality, zero-tolerance rules are taking over for wisdom and critical thinking.

Policies against weapons in school make sense but some argue zero-tolerance rules won’t stop someone committed to violence.

Should administrators enforce sweeping rules or attend to these infractions on a case-by-case basis?


  1. Zachjewell Feb 18, 2011

    So your suggesting that bringing a drugs to school derserves only a detention or two? B.S.

    1. Anonymous Feb 21, 2011

      I don’t think anyone is suggesting that. My own suggestion is to scale punishments in such a manner that violations above so-so (bringing drugs to campus) aren’t ‘free’ for them to commit.

  2. Anonymous Feb 18, 2011

    The problem with zero-tolerance policies is that they in effect make all violations after the bare minimum essentially ‘free’. Let us say that our friend Adam has brought to school an ounce of cannabis and for this will be expelled under the current policies. What is the marginal risk of him bringing a second or third ounce to the campus under these policies? None. If he could he might as well bring a whole kilo of the substance.

    Economically speaking the policies are doomed to fail when the minimum for expulsion is so low.

  3. Zero-tolerance policies are a substitute for having to exercise common sense. You’re right on.

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