Has zero tolerance gone too far?...

mom2many

Super Moderator
Jul 3, 2008
7,542
0
0
49
melba, Idaho
<t>Every day it seems like we hear of another story that makes us shake our heads.<br/>
<br/>
Now I hear about a 5-year-old kindergartner who was suspended from school for telling a friend that she was going to shoot her . . . with a pink toy gun that blows soapy bubbles. The context of the discussion is still somewhat unclear, but the little girl was suspended for ten days (later dropped to two days) and labeled as a “terrorist threat.” Yep, a five-year-old is now a threat to the greater good of society.<br/>
<br/>
When I read that, I couldn't help but laugh out loud. The big scary five-year-old with her pink bubble shooting gun was going to wreak havoc on the world. Really?<br/>
<br/>
I get that zero tolerance was created to make rules more uniform and to send the message that schools were going to get tougher where violent crimes were concerned. Unfortunately, zero tolerance has seemed to take away common sense. When did common sense become not so common? <br/>
<br/>
I remember when my now 20-year-old daughter was in junior high. A few of the girls thought it would be funny to tie up one of the gym's bathroom stalls with paper towels. It wasn't the brightest move, sure, but they thought the next class would find it funny, which they did. My daughter, being the creative type, thought it would look even better with a bow, so she took some paper towels, made a pretty little bow out of it, and placed it on the stall. End of story, right?<br/>
<br/>
No, it resulted in a three-day suspension for “destruction of school property.” What was destroyed? A five-dollar roll of paper towels? I fought and I fought hard, clear up to the superintendent, but zero tolerance was “their rule.” Um, okay, so why did the kids who wrote with permanent marker on the bathrooms only get lunchroom duty for a week? If anything, that was destructive. <br/>
<br/>
Don’t get me wrong. I do think the girls needed some kind of punishment. While the prank was well received by the other girls, it was definitely wrong. But wouldn't a natural consequence have worked better? At most, they created maybe five extra minutes of work for the janitor, so doesn't it make more sense to have them help the janitor for a couple of days? Honestly that’s what the girls thought was going to happen, and they all felt that the prank was worth it. Had they known that suspension was the punishment, they certainly would have thought twice.<br/>
<br/>
So I ask, am I the only one who thinks zero tolerance has gone too far?</t>
 

Antoinette

PF Addict
Mar 2, 2010
2,838
0
0
29
Australia
Yes, i agree. i think there should be zero tolerance for things such as bullying but i think that there should be some leeway about all things, take the child's age into consideration. 2 5 year old girls telling another one that they don't want to e friends with her is hurtful but it is vastly different from a group of year 12's beating up a year 8. or a highschool girl telling another girl to kill herself. i think that the situation needs to be looked at before a punishment is handed out.

in this case, someone should have sat down with the 5 year old, told her that it is not nice to threaten to shoot someone. asked the girl to apologise. confiscated the gun and talked to the parents about a no toy gun policy.. or something like that, a suspension was taking it a little far
 

cybele

PF Addict
Feb 27, 2012
3,655
0
36
51
Australia
It is getting a bit over the top. So can kids play cops and robbers any more or is that "not tolerated" either? That game usually involved certain hand position and the words "bang bang bang bang bang".

I'm with Antoinette, zero tolerance within reason. Zero tolerance for bullying if it is actually bullying, zero tolerance for threatening others, if it is actually a threat and so on. It's too much of a grey area for it to just be cut and dry.
 

singledad

PF Addict
Oct 26, 2009
3,380
0
0
49
South Africa
This is ridiculous. Now a little girl with a bubble gun is a terrorist?

I can only imagine the effect of this...
If you say anything against another child, you're already a bully, so you might as well beat him up.

I can't show my anger towards a classmate who hurt me, because I'll be labeled a bully.

I was bullied to the point that I'm actually suicidal, but I'm lumped in with all the other kids who had disagreements with classmates - no help, no extra support, no one follows up to make sure I'm ok because there is simply too many of us...

It just goes on and on and on.

But that's ok. Let's lump the innocent 5-year-old with the bubble gun and a 5-year-old's grasp of anger management in with the 16 year old who just beat a classmate unconscious or threatened him with a flick-knife... They're both bullies, after all.

It certainly is a lot less trouble than actually evaluating the individual situation :rolleyes:
 

bssage

Super Moderator
Oct 20, 2008
6,536
0
0
55
Iowa
I think the problem is two fold.

The zero tolerance is just lazy. Rather than the teacher investigating and determining a course of actions based on the merits of a situation. They can just fly the zero tolerance flag. Rather than a school administrator being responsible to make sure training and other systems are in place to make sure this is handled correctly. They can just fly the zero tolerance flag. It removes the cognitive thought from the situation.

The second part of the fold is limiting liability. To a certain extend this is understandable. Especially in the litigious society we live in now. Some of this we as parents have to take ownership of. If we want to paint the schools responsibility to our children with a broad brush that includes Facebook. And events that are outside the school environment. Then we should expect them to reciprocate by using the same broad brush when dealing with these issues.

I just think some of the blame falls on us. If we let the schools focus on their mandate of Educating our kids. And we fulfilled our obligation of Raising our kids. A lot of this overkill would not be necessary.
 

mom2many

Super Moderator
Jul 3, 2008
7,542
0
0
49
melba, Idaho
I think the saddest part of zero-tolerance is that the kids who are really needing the help aren't getting it. Schools are so focused on zero-tolerance that kids are just getting lost to it.

Single dad...can you imagine going your whole school career labeled as a terrorist? I don't know, that just really made me laugh, but I feel bad for that little girl and her parents.

Bssage, I agree about some of it being about liability. It's an easy out, parents sign the hand books and then they say their hands are tied or that they 'followed the rules'
 

Emotfit

Junior Member
Jan 22, 2013
12
0
0
84
Colorado
Two problems with Zero Tolerance. Over kill (opps I might be charged) and totally ignoring age and stage. That has been a big problem with the parent advisors - and I am one. Children her age do not understand a gun is anything but a toy and have even less of an idea about killing or what death means.

Pre-school and below rules: keep safe, stop hurtful physical interactions, use short explanations and above all don't punish for normal exploratory behaviors that do no harm.

At least this is what this granny kat thinks.
 

Mom2all

PF Fiend
Nov 25, 2009
1,317
1
0
48
Eastern North Carolina, USA
Yep.. its become a hot mess. My cousins boy, when he was in 2nd grade, carried the wrong book bag. Mom had bought several when they were on sale and one he used for school, the other for play. In the one he grabbed that day was a yellow water gun, his little sisters purse and doll, and other assorted toys he's bought to my house the day before. Before school had even started he approached his teacher and told of of his mistake. She tried just calling his Mom to have them switch the bags, the principal however, on walking through the office while on the phone with Mom overheard and then... bammmm... they spend several days fighting with her over suspension and it being on his permanent record. The teacher did go to bat for him but what did it eventually teach him? Never go to your teachers for early intervention. Hide the problem until you can call you Mom yourself.. or you get home. This "potential problem child" was valedictorian of his class and received a full paid scholarship to one of our best universities. He's on his way to being great.. but it could have been sooooooooo different.
 

Emotfit

Junior Member
Jan 22, 2013
12
0
0
84
Colorado
So sad and so good most kids can move beyond the hurt some well meaning adults impose.

So much confusion on this issue and all related subjects. My six year old grandson was threatened with suspension for using the F--- word once. He didn't know what it meant another child had just used but out of the hearing of adults. The teacher was the one who over-reacted. I happened to be the one picking up that day and I also got a lecture in front of my grandson. Not helpful.

How did I handle it? On the walk home, I asked him if he knew what the word meant. He had no idea. I said the real meaning is to make love, but for some reason lots of people think it is a bad word. I didn't but I never said it because it upset others.

I also asked if he thought going to the principals office was a good or bad thing. He thought it might be good. I said it was more like a time out. So he'd probably wouldn't enjoy it. Then we had some cookies and milk.

I am not at all opposed to punishment, but it has to be in tune with the child's age and stage and leavened with lots of caring.

When we don't understand how children think, we abuse them. I know people are just trying to stop bullying, but in many ways the over-control has made many adults into the bullies.

Kat
 

mom2many

Super Moderator
Jul 3, 2008
7,542
0
0
49
melba, Idaho
akmom said:
Did someone link an article to this story?
I thought I had, but I guess I didn't.

Here's a link, but doesn't really say anything more then what I posted.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/5-year-old-suspended-from-pa-kindergarten-for-saying-shed-shoot-girl-with-soap-bubble-gun/2013/01/18/c94f880a-61eb-11e2-81ef-a2249c1e5b3d_story.html[/URL]
 

singledad

PF Addict
Oct 26, 2009
3,380
0
0
49
South Africa
mom2many said:
ISingle dad...can you imagine going your whole school career labeled as a terrorist? I don't know, that just really made me laugh, but I feel bad for that little girl and her parents.
Yes. It's ridiculous. :mad:

Especially since I believe that more often than not, such a label will turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. I can see this little girl continueing to misbehave and get bad grades in school. You know - what's the point of trying to be good when you've already been irrevocably labeled "bad"? Might as well do whatever you want - you won't get any credit for being good anyway.

I hate systems that label kids. Without in any way advocating corporal punishment in school, there was one good aspect to the way kids were disciplined when I was in school - if you misbehaved, you had to bend over and take your so-called "six of the best", but then it was over. <U>No record was kept</U>. Children rarely built up reputations that followed them from grade to grade, and from school to school. You were able to make a fresh start whenever you got a new teacher. Not so anymore. These days, everything is recorded and not doing your homework once, in second grade, becomes something that follows you around until you finish school. That, to me, is really bad. Now imagine if that record said "bully" or even "terrorist"! Keep in mind that here,prospective employers can contact your school for references... I can't imagine how anyone can justify making a five-year-old acting like a five-year-old, live with such a loaded label all her life!

This reminds me - we've actually had school kids here who started a campaign to reinstate corporal punishment in schools. Their reason - they'd rather take a swat (or 6) on the backside than have one mistake blight their entire school career...

I'm sure the spanking can be replaced with something more appropriate while still keeping the "let bygones be bygones" philosophy, especially for smaller kids...
 

Mom2all

PF Fiend
Nov 25, 2009
1,317
1
0
48
Eastern North Carolina, USA
I just thought of a crazy story. 4th grade... I was a Daddy's girl. He gave me my own knife. For whatever reason.. I wanted it. I took it to school and was caught with it. I carried it myself to the vice principals office and had to tell him why I brought it. He lectured me about bringing it to class.. looked at it and agreed it was pretty cool.. and then called my Dad to tell him he had to pick it up for me. I went back to class. THE END. ;)
 

TabascoNatalie

PF Addict
Jun 1, 2009
2,099
0
0
38
England and somewhere else
No wonder education is dumbing down. Teachers should be focused on teaching.

As for zero tolerance, it is a way of sweeping dirt under the carpet. We have zero tolerance -- bulying does not happen... Yeah right... My backside
 
Last edited:

mom2many

Super Moderator
Jul 3, 2008
7,542
0
0
49
melba, Idaho
Mom2all said:
I just thought of a crazy story. 4th grade... I was a Daddy's girl. He gave me my own knife. For whatever reason.. I wanted it. I took it to school and was caught with it. I carried it myself to the vice principals office and had to tell him why I brought it. He lectured me about bringing it to class.. looked at it and agreed it was pretty cool.. and then called my Dad to tell him he had to pick it up for me. I went back to class. THE END. ;)
This reminds me of Cole in the 3rd grade. For some reason he had 2 pocket knives in his coat when he went back to school. It was a Monday, and over the weekend he probably was doing something with his dad and forgot. When he realized what happened he went to his teacher and told her. She took them and gave me a call letting me know that when I picked him up after school I could just come grab them from her.

So I did and she said she just kept them, cause had she taken them to the office he could have gotten suspended. since it was clearly a mistake and he told her she felt it would be over board, and to just not say anything to anyone. I never did.
 

Mom2all

PF Fiend
Nov 25, 2009
1,317
1
0
48
Eastern North Carolina, USA
mom2many said:
So I did and she said she just kept them, cause had she taken them to the office he could have gotten suspended. since it was clearly a mistake and he told her she felt it would be over board, and to just not say anything to anyone. I never did.

oh no.. you just did.. and with things the way they are now... they will find this in 20 years and bring charges on him... :wacko:
 

akmom

PF Fiend
May 22, 2012
1,969
0
0
United States
I think it's ridiculous that the parents have to hire a lawyer to fight this. How is this going to impact their daughter's perception of authority? Her attitude with school administrators? She's going to develop an antagonistic impression of them, as some nit-picky, heavy-handed entity.

I was in high school when I experienced my first nonsense discipline. I was accused of assaulting another student (which I did not). The problem was that they never made any attempt to discern what actually happened. It was a misunderstanding that could have been resolved in moments. Instead, the principal was hell-bent on suspending me, to the point where my parents threatened legal action. All this happened before anyone spoke a word to me, or my alleged victim. Had they bothered to do that, they would have realized that an overwhelmed staff member simply saw a group of teens being loud (which she assumed was an altercation) and me reaching for an art tool (which she worried was drawn as a weapon) and then approaching another student (who just happened to be at the same work station). Would that have been so hard? (The fact that I'd never been disciplined before <I>ever</I> might be a clue that something was amiss.) As far as I know, no one in the class was fighting, I didn't hurt or intend to hurt anyone, and no one felt threatened. Clearly no one was injured. It was one hysterical staff member who wasn't sure what she saw.

Had I been younger, such a thing might have made me jaded!
 
Last edited: