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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Zero Tolerance Programs are Backfiring

From USATODAY.com: "Zero tolerance" discipline policies that are enforced widely in U.S. schools are backfiring: They may be promoting misbehavior and making students feel more anxious, the American Psychological Association (APA) said Wednesday.The group called for more flexibility and common sense in applying the policies, reserving zero tolerance for the most serious threats to school safety.

Zero-tolerance policies spread in the 1990s as a tool to fight drug use and violence on campuses. Schools often suspend or expel students for having weapons or drugs, which can include over-the-counter medicine, says educational psychologist Cecil Reynolds of Texas A&M University. Verbal threats, fighting or sexual harassment also can get kids booted, he says. "There are cases such as the kindergarten boy who hugged two classmates. His teacher reported him for sexual harassment, and he was suspended."

"The 'one-size-fits-all' approach isn't working. Bringing aspirin to school is not the same as bringing cocaine. A plastic knife isn't the same as a handgun," Reynolds says. He led an APA panel that summarized research on the topic. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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