Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Z is for Zero Tolerance


There is a policy that has become very popular throughout the United States in the past 10 - 20 years or so and that is the Zero Tolerance policy. Because of the fears of gun violence, drugs and sexual misconduct, schools and other organizations have instituted a zero tolerance policies aimed at curtailing the cultures of drugs, violence and sexual harassment. Unfortunately, those in charge of enforcing these policies have tended to go above and beyond the original scope intended. Take, for instance, the case of the child who was suspended for throwing an imaginary hand grenade while playing heroes and villains. It didn't matter that the weapon didn't exist. It didn't matter that the villains didn't exist. All that mattered was that this 7-yr-old had PRETENDED to have a weapon and put it to use. (www.abajournal.com/news/article/imaginary_weapon_tossed_at_nonexistent_target_gets_7-year-old_a_real_school)


Gone are the days when kids could play "cowboys and Indians", "cops and robbers" or "war". We lament the advent of video games which eliminate the need for children to develop their imagination and, at the same time, punish overly severely those who DO use their imagination. Imaginary play is an important part of a child's formative years. Punishing them with policies that will forever mar their school records is beyond fair and reasonable. It's cruel and abusive.

How about being suspending for hugging a friend? Yes, it did happen. The school actually has a no-hugging policy in place. Apparently, encouraging students to avoid all displays of affection is considered sound policy. I'm not talking about locking lips and engaging in what amounts to foreplay. I'm talking about hugging a friend for any number of reasons or even holding hands!! www.foxnews.com/us/2011/11/03/student-suspended-for-breaking-schools-zero-tolerance-no-hugging-policy/ and www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/17/AR2007061701179.html show how extreme some of these policies have become.

When I was in school, girls regularly carried Midol in their purses. It came with the territory of female adolescence. We didn't always have time to go to the nurse between classes. Our parents knew and the meds are legal and over-the-counter, not prescription or controlled substances. Today, that would become a crime, punishable by either suspension or expulsion, possibly even to having the police contacted. We have criminalized our youth for everything imaginable - and apparently, EVERYTHING IS IMAGINED!!! I guess you can't even be a Boy Scout these days without fearing that your scout knife will get you arrested.

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