As I was watching the local news last evening, I happened to see a segment on the issue of zero tolerance on there. Basically, local school districts were giving their policies and procedures as to how they handle this problem within their schools. The parents were complaining that zero tolerance was too strict and needed to be handled on a case to case basis. Schools have implemented this policy for quite some time in order to cut down on criminal behavior, catch the bullying going on and to basically keep weapons off campus so school will be safe for all students.

Recently, a kindergarten child was suspended for bringing a camping utensil to school. Another case happened when a first grader brought a knife to school. There was an incident in this nation where a 3rd grade child brought a kitchen knife from home to school. Why? A 5th grade bully threatened to rape him the next day. So, it was brought for protection. True, there are some who have brought weapons to school to start a fight or to do harm to others. It is important that we catch those who are planning to do harm to others in some way.

Lets face it; zero tolerance is too strict. It needs to be handled on a case by case basis. Gangs who bring weapons to school to hurt others should be suspended or expelled. Same with anyone who brings a weapon to do any harm to another person. However, what is a five year old going to know about a camping utensil? I highly doubt this child has threatened another in some way. Also, many bullied kids bring weapons as a way to protect themselves. When a school does not listen and the child is continually abused on a daily basis, he/she begins to feel helpless and looks for a way for protection. Its not going to come from peers or the school so they bring a weapon to school. The student gets caught and gets expelled for having the weapon while the bully walks without any punishment. After all, zero tolerance is zero tolerance.

Folks, the concept is not a bad one. Its just that in cases of Peer Abuse and the B word, the wrong kids are being caught and punished. In doing so, it reinforces the kid who is being abused that their rights, feelings or self as a whole is not nearly as valued as that of the bully. We all know life is not fair. However, must we continue to reinforce this to these kids already in pain? We all have rights in this nation, lets not ever forget that.


Elizabeth Bennett is the author of Peer Abuse Know More: Bullying From a Psychological Perspective. Visit Peer Abuse Know More! to learn more.

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