Opposing Views

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Robin Retherford
Zero- Tolerance Research

In this paper, I will show the injustice of the Zero- Tolerance Policy. It should not be used as an umbrella to include everything, nor should it tie the hands of our educators and councilors. Policies are usually in place to help guide and shape our youth, to give them the best chance to improve their lives and have an opportunity at success. Individual acts have to be taken into account, along with circumstances. Simply shuffling everyone through the same criteria won't cut it. Our children are not cattle, they deserve individual attention and consideration.

Initially used to address weapons- based violence and substance abuse in schools, zero- tolerance policies have been extended to sexual harassment, bullying, and dress code violations. However, this one-size-fits-all approach does not take child development, individual needs, and underlying causes of problem behaviors into account. As a result, students are unfairly punished for minor infractions, leading to dramatic rises in suspensions, expulsions, and arrests, which are counterproductive and drain financial resources. Schools should re-evaluate and revise zero-tolerance policies as well as seek programs that reinforce appropriate decision-making and conflict-resolving skills and examine students' motivations behind misconduct. Rhonda B. Armistead, President of NASP. Zero tolerance policies are associated with declines in academic achievement and increases in student misconduct, school dropouts, and poor attitudes toward adults. Although there can be no dispute that schools must do all that can be done to ensure the safety of learning environments, controversy has arisen about the use of zero tolerance policies and procedures to achieve those aims. To address the needs of schools for discipline that can maintain school safety while maximizing student opportunity to learn, the report offers recommendations for both reforming zero tolerance...
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