Thursday, December 07, 2006

"Zero Tolerance": Zero Results

This is not a surprise to anyone with common sense, least of all Charlie Sykes.

A review of the school discipline research shows that zero tolerance policies developed in the 1980s to stop drug use and curtail unruly and violent behavior in schools are not as successful as thought in creating safer environments to learn. These policies, which mandate that schools severely punish disruptive students regardless of the infraction or its rationale, can actually increase bad behavior and also lead to higher drop out rates, according to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) report. Based on these results, the APA today adopted a resolution recommending ways to target discipline more effectively in order to keep schools safe while also eliminating the need for a one-size-fits-all punishment for misbehavior.

...schools are not any safer or more effective in disciplining children than before these zero tolerance policies were implemented in the mid 1980s.

...Furthermore, the evidence suggests that zero tolerance policies do not increase the consistency of discipline in schools.

...The zero tolerance policies also do not consider children’s lapses in judgment or developmental immaturity as a normal aspect of development,

OK. So what to do?

Three levels of intervention are offered as alternatives to the current zero tolerance policies. Primary prevention strategies could target all children. Secondary strategies could target those students who may be at-risk for violence or disruption and tertiary strategies could target those students who have already been involved in disruptive or violent behavior. Initial reports of these strategies show reduced office referrals, school suspensions and expulsions and improved ratings on measures of school climate

Uh...Duh...You mean watch the "at-risks" more closely and clobber the on-record offenders?

No shit, Sherlock.

HT: John Lott

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