Zero tolerance for zero-tolerance policy


The Appalachian Online


When I was in the sixth grade I got into a fight with another student who tried to strangle me. He was a larger kid who had managed to get me to the ground with him on my back and his arms around my neck. I managed to get him off of me, however, we both ended up getting suspended for “fighting.”

This was my first experience with the zero-tolerance policy. Sure, I may have punched the kid once or twice, which everyone knows should be taken just as seriously as strangling someone to the point that they almost black out.

Without zero-tolerance policies, how else would schools weed out potential criminals and the bottom feeders of society?

Like the 6-year-old boy who was suspended in 2013 for sexually harassing his classmate by kissing her hand.

Had the administration at this school not caught him early, he could have ended up becoming a rapist or he could have gotten his classmate pregnant.

Another disastrous example of zero-tolerance policy in schools is the infamous boy who made a fake gun out of his breakfast pastry. What a terrible, terrible crime indeed. Schools have to teach children that all guns are bad – even the edible kind. Didn’t that kid’s parents teach him that pastries can be dangerous!

And don’t forget the biggest example of this in recent memory, the Ahmed Mohamad incident. This teen brought a homemade clock to impress his teacher and show his classmates but instead of being impressed, his teachers thought it was a bomb.

You would think in this situation if a teacher really thought a child had brought a bomb onto school premises, that they would have evacuated the school and called in the bomb squad.

But that is not what happened. Instead, they pulled Ahmed from class and interrogated him, ultimately arrested him and charged him with bringing in a hoax bomb.

If that had actually been a bomb that he brought in, that school administration would have gotten all of the students in that building killed.

That’s the problem with zero-tolerance policies, they lead to insane and rather idiotic stories such as these. In none of these cases should these students have been suspended, especially since all of them are under the age of 14.

It’s time to get rid of zero-tolerance policies; all they do is interrupt children’s educations over minor offences.

Additionally, these policies create a “school-to-prison pipeline” that funnels kids into the criminal justice system by treating their problems as criminal issues instead of behavioral and educational issues that can be corrected.

Honestly did anyone expect these policies to succeed? Zero-tolerance policies were a knee-jerk reaction to a tragedy, and everyone knows that reactionary policies tend to fail for their lack of planning.

I can honestly say that schools need to abolish zero-tolerance policies and adopt a policy that examines each individual incident and determines a punishment based on the actions taken by each individual.

No child should have to worry about getting in trouble for defending themselves or for just being a kid.

Russell, a freshman Journalism major from Charlotte, is an opinion writer.