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sgxnk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 09:32 AM
Original message
the "zero tolerance" school policy and its absurdity
Edited on Fri Aug-11-06 09:34 AM by sgxnk
i totally agree with the thrust of this article listed below (even though i often think the APA is full of cr*p).

imo, and ime, the presence of police officers in school should be a RARITY, not the commonplace occurrence it is now - with the advent of DARE, etc. and the concept of "school resource officer". i say this AS a police officer. imo, it's absurd. in my high school years, i don't recall EVER seeing a police officer on campus - and that's perfectly acceptable. the idea that we need the heavy hand of govt. agents to deal with issues like schoolyard fights, possession of a few buds of marijuana, etc. is absurd to me.

one trend i have noticed more and more is that schools, that once would treat matters administratively, will more often call police into the school environment for assaults, "bullying", possession of small amounts of drugs and alcohol, etc.

this is also an extension of the nanny-state philosophy, that we need laws and strong action against "bullying:" and other such stuff. when in doubt - PASS A LAW philosopy.

many schoolteachers are also to blame for another increasing phenomenon i have seen. more and more, you will see (usually single parents, and most often single mothers) parents calling police for issues such as "my child is refusing to go to school". um... this is a POLICE MATTER? i can't even imagine the dependant impotence of a parent that feels the need to call police to tell their child that yes, they have to go school. fwiw, parents can (legally) use corporal punishment on kids who refuse to go to school. cops can't. furthermore, in reference to schoolteachers, many of them teach their ideology (not the law) which is that 'spanking is child abuse' and i see a two-pronged response to this stuff. 1) kids will call police because their parent is "abusing" them, when in fact all that happened was the kid called the mom a "f*cking b*tch" or something and got slapped in the face. that is not "child abuse" (well, not in the USA it aint. many nations do ban parents using corporalpunishment) but kids are indoctrinated by the political ideology of teachers who think it is into trying to intimidate their parents 2) parents (many of them) are totally afraid of using corporal punishment in many cases due to fear of prosecution. i have heard this firsthand over and over again

so, you've got a kid who refuses to go to school. a parent who is terrified of using corporal punishment (as a moral argument, some parents are against corporal punishment, and i respect that. but no parent should be cowed into thinking they will be arrested if they do), and who is now so dependant on the State (tm) that they will call police because little johnny has put his foot down and will not go to school

another element i see is the response to bullies. generally speaking, imo, the only thing schoolyard bullies respond to , is somebody who fights back. in the past, if little johnny came home and complained that little petey shoved him to the ground and took his lunch money, daddy or mommy would tell their kid - HIT HIM BACK, and the next time this happened - that solved the problem.

oh... no. not now. first of all school zero tolerance policies mean school administrators want all 'participants in violence" criminally charged. apparently, self-defense is a concept lost on the administrators. not to mention that, technically speaking, pushing a kid to the ground and taking money from him is a ROBBERY. of course, from a common sense angle it is absurd that the criminal justice system should waste their time and also that it is obscene that a schoolyard bully is arrested for a felony, but given the "zero tolerance" policy, many admin's feel handcuffed, so to speak, as do the cops.

i'd like to see a return to common sense parenting, and common sense schooling. like THAT will ever happen. and then of course, there are the stories where kids get punished under zero tolerance policies for having a miniature (like 2" long miniature gi joe ak-47) weapons, etc.

here is a USA today article on the APA (american psychological association_ report

an excerpt:

There are growing signs that zero-tolerance policies are steering more teens into the juvenile justice system, says Russell Skiba, an Indiana University educational psychologist. "Things that used to be handled by principals land kids in juvenile detention," he says. The report also mentions racial disparities; minorities are expelled more often than whites for comparable offenses.

Principals who want to be flexible "may be caught in a catch-22," says Richard Flanary of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. If school boards set rigid policies, principals who defy them risk losing their jobs. "Then they're bashed in the press for overreacting to kids' misbehavior."

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jedicord Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 09:46 AM
Response to Original message
1. I agree with most of your points, but believe bullying should be
treated more harshly. That coming from a mom whose son has been the target of bullying. School administrators do not do (or cannot) anything to stop these bullies. And, I agree, the best way to stop this is for the bullied kid to hit back. This has worked for my son - we have the philosophy of "don't hit first, but definitely hit back".

The fact that my son could be prosecuted for defending himself is absurd ad a lousy way to prevent bullying.

Sorry, tender subject for me. The good thing is, as he's grown older the bullying has decreased.
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sgxnk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 10:03 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. i think we pretty much agree
on a pure 'effectiveness' basis, by FAR the best response to a kid being bullied is for the bully'ee (so to speak) is to fight back

and we both agree that the idea that kids are prosecuted (not necessarily successfully) for fighting back is absurd. to be more specific, you can't (legally) prosecute somebody for fighting back, because (at least in my state) self defense is a clearly identified right, and the burden is on the state (not the defendant) to prove by preponderance of the evidence, that it was NOT self defense

my state is very libertarian (and unusual to some extent) in that regards

i should have been more specific, in that the primary 'proscution' against kids who fight back is not criminal, but is often administrative as well. schools will suspend kids who are acting in self-defense, since they used violence, and didn't run to a teacher, whine, and have the police called, after they were punched.

in the admin's mind (and they are hampered by the policies they work under), self-defense is no excuse for "violence".

bullies prey on the weak. but i think it is counterproductive to make a simple schoolyard bully into a subject of the CRIMINAL JUSTICE system

it's kind of like bashing a gnat with a sledgehammer

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jedicord Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 10:17 AM
Response to Reply #4
8. True, a 6th grade boy found a spent shell casing on the ground
one morning waiting for the bus. He (like most kids) put it in his pocket and forgot about it. Towards the end of the day he showed it to a teacher. He was expelled and tried as a juvenile in the courts for carrying a weapon to school.

True story.
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sgxnk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 10:19 AM
Response to Reply #8
10. exactly
this is exactly the kind of bone headed zero tolerance head up a** systematic stuff i am referring to

zero tolerance usually translates to zero common sense

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Jed Dilligan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 09:47 AM
Response to Original message
2. Does criminal-justice involvement ever help any situation?
As far as I can tell the courts just muck it up every time. People get caught peeing on a fence and end up being gang-raped for it. It's surreal. There was a kid whose dog bit another dog in SF, so social services took the kid away to a foster home where he was molested. All this trying to control society is like amputating a leg to treat a bunion.

The only situation I can think of where the courts kind-of helped is when my friend's brother was about to die from heroin, his family turned him in and he was able to clean up in prison. But then he became so dependent on the system that he hasn't been able to stay out; he does something violent and stupid to get sent back within a couple of weeks every time they let him out. Hmm, wonder if rehab would have been better for him after all...
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sgxnk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 10:08 AM
Response to Reply #2
5. imo it does
i have seen it happen tons of times

i have seen mandated anger management court imposed programs help domestic violence abusers into overcoming their history of violence

i have had people i have arrested PERSONALLY thank me (even hug me) for arresting them, and placing them on the path to fixing themselves. i had a DUI driver tell me that it was my arrest that finally made him stop drinking - and he was DUI'ing at least twice a week, according to him for many years

of course, the primary way that the CJ system offers help is to the victims. that it sometimes helps the offender is an added benefit (although certainly not always the case)

taking a rapist, murderer, or arsonist (all of which i have done) off the street certainly HELPS the situation. in the case of the arsonist, he had already burned three houses. putting him in prison kept him from burning anybody else's house

etc etc etc

my point is that the law is a blunt instrument (to put it mildly) and applying it to school bullies, kids with a few buds of marijuana (not to mention i am against criminalization of marijuana anyways, but that's another topic), etc. is using a sledgehammer on a gnat

it is a waste of time, money, and imo does in many cases hurt more than it helps

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Jed Dilligan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 10:16 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. I wasn't referring to the actual job of police--
which is capturing criminals who are dangerous to society.

I'm talking about when the court becomes a party in people's family or private lives, so I guess we're basically in agreement.
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sgxnk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 10:18 AM
Response to Reply #6
9. yes ... cheers
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Turbineguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 09:48 AM
Response to Original message
3. Very good points
There seems to be a need to create a "system" or a "method" for handling any and all situations in schools. By doing this we avoid the risks inherent in "good judgment" and "common sense".

By removing the need and use for good judgment and common sense we are left with idiotic actions that do not accomplish the goals. Good judgment and common sense are like muscles that need to be exercised and thus improve in time.
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sgxnk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 10:17 AM
Response to Reply #3
7. yes and thank you
i am a firm believer that in situations like this, you have to hire good people (which is not as easy as it sounds of course), and give them discretion to use their good judgment and apply situational decisionmaking

now, of course, the drawback to allowing discretion is that if you hire morons or malevolent people, you can see abuses

but my point is that most people have common sense, and more importantly, the system can work (even with tenure, but that's another story) to weed out those who don't.

but creating greater bureaucracy and applying criminal statutes to schoolyard bullies is silly.

parents are the first line of defense and should feel that if they do use corporal punishment and/or common sense, that they will not be punished by the state, and teachers and administrators also need to have discretion and not feel that they need to call police and prosecute a kid who has a 2' long gi joe doll ak-47 in his pocket

one of the edifices of the nannystate (tm) is the idea that generally speaking, allowing discretion for individual actors is bad. there must be LAWS and rules. because if people are given choices, they will invariably choose the wrong one. iow, we need to be protected from ourselves

in general, i am most suspicious of govt. authority, not when it goes against external enemies and/or those who supposedly victimize us, but when govt. attempts to protect us from ourselves. that's why i have a libertarian (but not capital "l" ) orientation towards many topics. get the govt. out of bedrooms, our bloodstreams, etc. people should be responsible for their (bad) actions, but be free to make those choices.

don't sue fast food restaurants for offering crappy food to people, for instance. nobody is forcing you to eat 5 big macs a day, for instance. sorry, i digressed.

but put briefly, parents are the primary agents responsible for their children, and should have the discretion to discipline and make choices. schools, acting in loco parentis also need discretion

zero tolerance laws fail to give people the basic dignity and recognition that they can make decisions and instead try to apply a cookie cutter template to every situation.

and thanks you for the props
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dogday Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 10:22 AM
Response to Original message
11. To place every event under the category of
"Zero Tolerance" is absurd.. Each event should be evaluated as to it's actual harm and then should be treated accordingly....

Remember the little girl who hugged her her girlfriend in Kindergarten and was suspended? That would be a different situation there for sure....
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sgxnk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 10:32 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. or the 6 yr old boys
saddled with sexual harassment for touching
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