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Monday, December 5, 2011

Zero-Tolerance Policies

Drug and alcohol use amongst teenagers while at school is a major concern in most public schools across the country have strict zero tolerance policies to deter students from engaging in such activities. In many cases zero-tolerance policies help keep students from encouraging other students to use drugs or alcohol. Students who bring mind altering substances to school should be punished, the question is to what extent and should every student be treated the same as the next. There are a number of parents who believe that principals should be more flexible in how they dole out punishment, that the severity of the punishment should take a person’s track record into account.

A 14-year-old named Lindsey Tanner in Shreveport, Louisiana, was punished for offering a Midol pill to a fellow student, according to USA Today. Lindsay had no history of drug use or discipline issues, even though the drug she was handing out wasn’t even a narcotic she had to attend a six-week drug and alcohol awareness program and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Lindsay was also required to attend an alternative school for the rest of eighth grade and part of ninth grade. The newspaper claims that Lindsay isn’t alone, she is one of thousands of students who are treated the same as more violent or regular offenders due to zero-tolerance policies.

Interestingly, zero-tolerance policies were the result of the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994, an act that required states that received federal funds to mandate that local school districts expel students who bring a weapon to school for a minimum of one year. As a result every school made their own interpretation of how to handle less severe offenses, such as bringing drugs to school, as well as over-the-counter medication.

  • 94 percent of American schools have zero-tolerance policies for weapons or firearms
  • 87 percent for alcohol
  • 79 percent for violence or tobacco

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