Criminal- someone who has committed a crime
Enforcement- The compelling observance of or compliance with a law, rue, or obligations
Federal- System of government
Modifications- to modify something
Precautions- A measure taken in advance to prevent something dangerous and inconvenient
Tolerance- To be able to tolerate something that one does not agree with
The zero tolerance policy is a policy that schools adopt to have a safer environment. The schools that adopt the policy are with intention the make the schools safer for kids to learn and interact. Schools and the government decided they needed to change the rules, because the schools were getting less safe every day. Jacob Kang-Brown writer of A Generation Later says, “Congress applied the rhetoric and intention of tough-on-crime laws to the school environment and passed the Gun-Free Schools Act in 1994”. The tough-on-crime laws that he talks about were put in place by the government that said if kids does anything including weapons, violence, etc. that the kid will be punished with suspension or expulsion. Palak Shah from defending justice states ”The ‘tough on crime’ movement refers to a set of policies that emphasize punishment as a primary, and often sole, response to crime”. Tough on crime is embedded in the zero tolerance, because the policy is based off of the tough on crime movement. The movements and laws are put intended to help the schools safety
There are many drawbacks that come from the zero tolerance policy such as, more crime, the student gets taken out of schools, and it can lead students down the wrong path. First of all, the zero tolerance policy does not prevent crime. John Holloway, from Education Leadership states “Schools with no reported crime were less likely to have a zero tolerance policy than schools that reported incidents of serious crime”. This shows that the zero tolerance does not prevent crime, and that schools without the policy have less crime than schools that do. The policy can stop kids from coming to schools when they get in trouble. When the child gets in trouble for a small instance they can either suspended or expelled; this is bad for the students education and their social skills. According to Gary Younge, a reporter, “A school in new york gave 73,441 suspensions during the 2010-2011 school year and that is about 130% of and increase in suspensions from the 2002-2003 school year”. This shows that with the policy there is an increase in suspensions, which keeps children from coming to school. Having the policy can come with many drawbacks that affect the student's overall education.
There are also benefits to having the zero tolerance policy such as more security, and a safer environment. First of all the policy creates more security because the superiors at the schools have a closer watch on the children and the policy was put into place to create less crime. Gary Younge an expert for the policy states that “The policy was put into place to try to control and have more power over the schools and give more power to districts to control violence”. The school's intentions for the policy was so that the authorities would be able to control the students and be more respected. This helps benefit the schools because they will have a safer school and more control to them. In many studies the schools with the policy have a safer environment and atmosphere. John Holloway a writer for Educational leadership states that “Studies show that schools were losing control of students, and current policies were not doing enough to assert control over the student population, especially in large urban schools and this was the reasoning for the zero tolerance policy”. These studies show the reasoning behind adopting the policy and how they were losing the students. Having the policy helps the overall environment and atmosphere of the schools.
Many schools adopted the zero tolerance policy after the school shooting of columbine. The schools wanted to adopt this policy because they wanted more an increase in graduation rates, and a decrease in criminal actions. By adopting this policy schools thought that kids would no longer bring weapons and would no longer participate in illegal actions. A Political scientist, John Dilulio, states that “The changes began in the late 1980s and quickly gained momentum, fueled in large part by rising rates of juvenile arrests for violent crimes and a climate in which young people were increasingly seen as dangerous. Feeling pressure to do something, Congress applied the rhetoric and intention of tough-on-crime laws to the school environment and passed the Gun-Free Schools Act in 1994”. In the 1980s the crime rate went up and the schools wanted to do something about that problem. The congress believed that if they were tougher on crime and create laws that restricted having guns that crime rates in schools would slow down. Another reasoning for adopting the policy was because of schools shootings and schools wanted to stop them. Dilulio also stated that “Following the massacre in 1999 at Columbine High School, people across the country worried that the next devastating school shooting would occur in their town… As early as the 1996–97 school year, 79 percent of schools had adopted zero tolerance policies for violence, going beyond federal mandates. To put some muscle behind these policies, the federal government and states began to increase funding for security guards and other school based law enforcement officers and later to install metal detectors”. Schools did not want a shooting to happen in their school so they did everything they could to prevent a shooting from happening. So that the policy was strong, the schools hired police and other security precautions so that the environment was safe. Schools adopted the policy so that crime would no longer happen in the schools and school shootings wouldn't happen.
When schools adopted the policy, they wanted so see how the policy would take action in the schools, now schools have realized they need to make modifications and variations to the rules. When the schools had the policy they noticed that the policy was not helping how they thought it would. Schools realized that they had no wiggle room to work with when punishing the students. In many cases the problems are unintentional by the students, affect the student for the rest of their life, Mary Woods from The Times “By giving the friend the over-the-counter medication, Lindsey violated a Bossier Parish School Board policy forbidding drugs on campus. As a result, Lindsey, who had never been a discipline problem, was forced to attend a six-week drug and alcohol awareness program and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. She also had to attend an alternative school for the remainder of her eighth-grade year and the first nine weeks of her first year in high school”. Lindsey was punished harshly for an unintended action that she did, and schools punished her so harshly that it affected much of her school career. Schools started to realize that there was no wiggle room and no room for errors and noticed that the policy may not be the best option. Schools also realized that the policy did not make the school safer. A research from Mary woods state's “principals reported few decreases in problem behaviors in schools, suggesting that the laws did not improve the safety and order of schools”. With this school's noticed that the policy did not improve the school but made it worse. Because of this many schools no longer have the policy because it did not work as well as they hoped.