Guest Post – Zero-Tolerance Policy in School Violence: It doesn’t really exist


Do you ever question the enforcement of schools “Zero Tolerance Policy” in relation to bullying and school violence? How much of it is enforced?

To the hundreds of parents I have personally spoken to, it has been minimally enforced, to not enforced at all in their children’s cases.

By minimally enforced, I mean a bully beats a child so terribly that the child has to make an emergency trip to the hospital, and the punishment from the school is, at the most, a two day suspension. True story.

Or how about this one, a child that pulled out a boys chair because they don’t like him, and the boy ends up cracking his head on the chair, and having to be flown to the hospital by helicopter. The child that did it, walked away laughing. This was another devastating story I was told by a parent. If I remember correctly, they got a three day suspension. just three days! THAT is physical assault! How is three days off of school a sufficient punishment for putting another persons’ life in danger?

Then there are those cases where there in no punishment for the bully.

For example; A little girl is being harassed every single day by bullies, and it has been reported several times to school officials, even going as far as going to the superintendent and absolutely no punishment is given to the bullies.

Another example; A parent having to make several trips to school begging for them to please remove the bully from the class, or to please help protect their child–and their response is that they cannot.

How is this a Zero-tolerance policy?

The Zero-Tolerance policy, as defined by Wikipedia states, “Policy of punishing any infraction of a rule regardless of accidental mistake, ignorance, or extenuating circumstances.” This policy includes drugs, weapons, and violence in schools.

Parents and guardians send their children to school with the belief that their kids will be safe and protected while they are on school property (this includes the school bus). But what happens when schools’ fail to protect our children? Nothing. What happens when parents’ complain that no action is being taken to protect their children? Nothing. schools are violating their own rules for their Zero-tolerance policy.

You know, in my state of Maryland there is an Anti-bullying law. This law is also being violated– every single day. This is suppose to make bullying a crime. It states, “All students in Maryland’s public schools without exception and regardless of race, ethnicity, region, religion, gender, sexual orientation, language, socioeconomic status, age or disability, have the right to educational environments that are SAFE, appropriate for academic achievement and FREE FROM ANY FORM OF HARASSMENT”.

Even though it is a law, it is not being followed. When someone reports that their child is being bullied, and that no action has been taken, school officials have made the same excuses, and use these laws and policies as a weapon to defend themselves. It’s just there for show. You know what they say? “Oh we have an anti-bullying law and zero-tolerance law in place.” That’s all. So they don’t have to deal with it.

My answer to that is..”Yes..and?” This does not mean it is being followed.

I voiced this problem when I made a trip to the House of Delegates back in 2011 to speak about bullying and the lack of consequences from schools’ in dealing with bullying situations. The board of education was there to, you know, defend themselves (as usual). I sat there and went through many parents’ situations of being ignored several times by the school system in having their children’s cases addressed, as well as the possible negative outcomes of being bullied, like in my case. Then it was the board of educations’ turn. All they did was rave about their anti-bullying initiatives while they wore anti-bullying pins (that children and parents’ said they had never seen). They swore they are doing everything under the sun to prevent bullying. Even talking about anti-bullying programs in schools that hundreds of parents and children say does not exist. Maybe they thought I was stupid, or forgot that I graduated in 2010– there was no anti-bullying programs in schools then, and now, there still is not one. I’m pretty sure the 200+ parents and children that I have spoken to are not lying.

Okay, Just because you put a poster up that says “DO NOT BULLY” around the school does NOT make that an anti-bullying program. That is a less than half-ass attempt to get parents to shut up.

What’s even more disturbing?

School officials will walk right past crying children, and not even ask them what’s wrong. I saw this happen before my eyes in school. Hell, I even experienced it.

You would NOT BELIEVE what some teachers in my community tell elementary school children when the child reports bullying. They tell them, “no tattling!”

They even made up a song, and taught the children this song! The school board response to this? Nothing. They were silent.

What is fascinating to me is that they have such extreme laws for truancy, even going as far as possible jail time for both parents and children, yet they cannot come up with effective bullying consequences and programs. I am sitting here, staring at the written portion of the truancy law.

Children who are truant are even offered behavior modification classes! What about for bullies? Sometimes children are truant because they do not want to face their bullies!

Did you know 1 in 20 students drop out of school because of bullying? If these “political school officials” gave a crap, I guarantee that this would not be happening.

We’ve all even made a simple request that they show the movie “Bully” by director Lee Hirsch in schools. We did not get a response. They will be show a bunch of useless movies as the school year ends, but will not take the time to show a movie that has been proven to get children to take a stand against peer abuse?

There is no reason for that.

It is so sad to think that our schools have become so overrun by politically generated robots that they do not even want to protect our children. No, it’s not that they can’t. It’s that they just won’t. Why? I can’t answer that. Because I do not understand why. Maybe they are afraid of losing their jobs? I don’t know. Keeping students safe is a part of their job description.

I’ve heard excuses like, “Oh we’ve been busy”, and “We can’t control it”.

First of all, Bullying and violence should be on top of the list. PERIOD. The only way that you would not see the seriousness of this issue is if you did not want to. Because it is there, more loud and clear than ever.

School officials state that it only SEEMS like bullying has gotten worse because they’re recording it more effectively. Yes, you’re recording it, but you are not dealing with it– because parents are complaining now more than ever.

Sometimes I wonder, if it was a politicians child getting bullied, how quickly the situation would be controlled.

 

I’m curious to hear others’ thoughts on this.

 

-Syanne

 

visit me at www.syannecenteno.wordpress.com

2 thoughts on “Guest Post – Zero-Tolerance Policy in School Violence: It doesn’t really exist

  1. Zero Tolerance policies are usually a mistake. They have great intentions, but bad consequences.

    It’s gone overboard:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/04/colorado-boy-6-suspended-_n_1478119.html
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/11/living/6-year-old-suspended-kissing-girl/

    Bullying is something we need to address, but I suggest it is a mistake to completely shelter kids. Once they get out of school and encounter the real world, there will be alot of bullies and they will need to know how to deal with them.

    Suggestion: Take your kids out of the public school in general. Do you want them to get a real education or some bureaucrats idea of proper social behavior that kids should learn? If anyone is going to indoctrinate your kids, it should be you. (Note that “indoctrinate” is intended without a negative connotation.)

    Like

  2. School officials don’t give a fuck about their students. Short of becoming a corpse, there is nothing that a teacher will not simply say ‘boys will be boys’ or something equally stupid about.

    Every single day for over 3 years, I was told ‘happy birthday’ at least twice a day by people who knew full damn well it’s not my birthday. On one occasion, my entire class clapped and sang the song to me as I entered the room.

    How do you explain that to a teacher? “They’ve been saying happy birthday to me and I want them to stop”

    The big problem with zero tolerance policies is that they show ‘zero tolerance’ to all the wrong things. (You can be expelled/suspended for friggen INSULIN under zero-tolerance drug policies) And the problem with bullying is the perception that nothing can be done about it, and getting a teacher involved will only make it worse.

    As someone who’s gone through mental bullying both without a teacher and with… no. It helps. Albeit not much, because by the time a teacher notices something is wrong, you’ve yelled out that you’re going to leave the school and go to sob under a staircase for a while.

    Oh, and it’s a teacher from the class down the hall instead of the one whose class you were in because why would the world make any fucking sense.

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