In Bedford, Texas, a 16-year-old honor student was expelled after a security guard noticed a kitchen knife on the floor of the student's car. The knife apparently had fallen unnoticed as the student carted some of his grandmother's possessions to Goodwill. He was ordered to spend a year in a juvenile-justice education program and banished from district property and school-sponsored activities. [.] In Deer Lakes, Pennsylvania, a kindergarten student was suspended for bringing a toy axe to school. He was dressed as a firefighter for Halloween. [.] In Thornton, Colorado, a fifth-grade girl was arrested for sexual harassment after repeatedly asking a classmate if he liked her. (Starr 2).
Zero tolerance is a policy concerning issues in today's society that are thought to be extremely dangerous. The three main focuses of the policy are incidences of violence, drugs, and alcohol. Zero tolerance treats children as if they were adults, and removes the "innocent until proven guilty" philosophy on which our country thrives. This policy could be extremely harmful to the lives of the students it affects and, "[.] disrupts the lives and educations of good students nearly as often as it does those of troubled students." This happens by treating all offenses dealing with the aforementioned issues and all students equally, even if the student has had a flawless record and had obviously no harmful intent (Starr 1).
Before the zero tolerance idea came about, the school system treated discipline in a completely different manner. Each student would be evaluated based on their prior record, where and when the incident occurred, and what the circumstances were surrounding the incident. If a student was a relatively good kid with no past disciplinary actions taken against him or her, they were much more likely to have a punishment that actually taught them something, rather than creating a sense of resentment towards the school authorities, and "the system" in general.