A few months ago, I wrote a column entitled “Why We Need Zero Tolerance for Zero Tolerance,” which talked about how the current practice of suspending or expelling chlidren from school may be doing more harm than good. In a new policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) agrees, adding that removing a child from school should be a rare last resort and not a routine punishment for bullying, drug use or other infractions.
The AAP’s reasons are very similar to the ones I wrote about: If parents are at work when a child is out of school, more inappropriate behavior often occurs. And “students who are suspended or expelled are more likely to never get a high school diploma, end up in the juvenile justice system or eventually land a low-paying job or no job at all. “There’s a tremendous price to pay not just for the kid involved, but for society,” said Dr. Jeffrey Lamont, a pediatrician at Marshfield Clinic in Weston, Wis., who wrote the new AAP statement.
The new AAP policy, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, reflects the findings of a 2006 task force convened by the American Psychological Association that analyzed a decade of research. They found that there was no evidence that zero-tolerance policies had made schools any safer or helped kids’ school performances.