Zero Tolerance Policy: Is It Just?

Seventeen year old Erin Cox was suspended from her Volleyball team for being a potential hero. That doesn’t seem right at all, does it? This is all part of the Zero-Tolerance policy applied by numerous public schools across the United States and Canada. The Zero-Tolerance policy addresses the use of violence of weapons, violence, drugs, and alcohol in and out of school. Some people think the Zero Tolerance Policy was a fantastic idea for schools to impress on these students. They believe it shows discipline in and out of school.

Others think the Zero-Tolerance policy goes much too far in many cases across the United States and should not be part of a schools handbook. I believe this “Zero-Tolerance Policy” should not vanish, but should just be revised. This policy over the years has demonstrated students to make smart decisions in, and even out of school. Violence during school hours has dropped substantially in the past few decades. Also, outside of school, students know the right and wrong decision. They know what will cause them to be suspended or booted off their sports team.

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The Zero-Tolerance policy has provided boundaries and has been pushed by school administrators to the point where kids will hopefully make the right decision. Since the Zero Tolerance policy has been enforced, violence levels have significantly decreased. Stephen Brock of California State University says that “not only are rates of school violence going steadily down, but it’s clear that schools are the safest place for a student to be”. Even though part of The Zero Tolerance Policy put students in their place, there are also flaws that confuse and outrage many people across the U.S. There are many cases throughout the past 20 years that show this.

One case is that of a young boy named Josh Welch. Josh Welch was suspended for two days for biting his Pop-Tart into a shape that the teacher perceived to be the shape of a gun. Josh’s father described the incident as ‘insanity’. It is insanity. The fact that a 7 year old boy was suspended for chewing on his pop-tart is an example of teachers being over-protective.

Another example of this is the case of 17-year-old Erin Cox. Erin Cox attends North Andover High School. She was suspended from her volleyball team and stripped as role of team captain when she drove her drunken friend home from a party. A cop had summoned them to court at the party and the policeman claimed that her friend was drunk but Erin was not drunk nor was in the possession of alcohol. Superintendent of North Andover Public Schools stated that he “hopes that our young people don’t hesitate for one second to do the right thing for fear of being punished on the basis of their school’s bad policy.

” Even the superintendent of the school knows that suspending Erin looks bad on the school administrator’s part. Erin’s parents were furious with the school’s decision along with Erin. Although the Zero Tolerance Policy has its place in school systems across the United States, it has many flaws and must be revised and changed. Now, students such as Josh Welch and Erin Cox have to deal with a suspension on their permanent record and will negatively effect their ability applying for jobs, colleges, etc. When people think of the Zero Tolerance Policy, it seems like a very practical way of dealing with the problems that we face in the everyday school system.

However, we then have to ask ourselves if it is fair to give all committees of these crimes the same consequence without even looking at each student’s case and side of their story.