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The "Zero Tolerance" Approach to Fighting in Schools

By lostincali in Op-Ed
Sun Aug 14, 2005 at 10:49:09 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

Many school districts have recently implemented "Zero Tolerance" fighting policies. What this means varies from locality to locality, but it generally involves severe punishments for anyone involved in fighting, without regard to any details of the case. In practice this means that those who attack others and those who defend themselves are punished equally.

Recently a student has sued his school district because of severe injuries sustained in a fight where he did not fight back out of respect for the policy.

These cases pose several interesting questions about the way schools are administered, and, more importantly about a trend in which even self-defense has come to be viewed as inappropriate, unsanctioned, and potentially illegal violence.

The Zero Tolerance Approach

It appears to be a trend in American culture lately to "get tough" on bad things. I don't know how long this has been going on, but, today it seems like we hear more rhetoric about "getting tough" on things like violence, drugs, and terrorism than ever before.

One offshoot of "get tough" policies is the "Zero Tolerance" policies applied to things like drugs and violence in schools. These policies hold that severe punishments will be enacted against a student without regard to circumstances. Critical factors in determining the severity of the case are to be intentionally ignored--the intent of the policy is to severely punish any unauthorized behavior. These policies are the laws of the educational institution.

Typical punishments under Zero Tolerance policies are severe. Since policies are usually determined by individual school boards, they vary broadly from place to place. In some locations however, even a first time self-defender will be punished with expulsion.

The Problems of Administration

The details related to managing a population of children are often quite boring. Yet some aspects of school management strike at issues central to our notions of justice. The management of violence is one such aspect. How do schools deal with violence, and why do many opt for Zero Tolerance policies?

One rationale is that such policies will reduce fighting in general. If both parties in a fight know they will be punished severely, no matter what excuses they make, then both sides should be less inclined to fight with one another.

Ideally, students who find themselves in a bad situation should run away and find a legitimate authority quickly. Never should they be allowed to take justice into their own hands.

"It's better to just punish them all than try to sort it out when we don't have the facts."
"The good kids aren't ever really involved in fights anyways."

Statements such as these seem to have a similar reasoning behind them: it's better to just punish anyone who engages in such activity than to seriously consider the possibility that some were justified.

Another factor to consider is the school district's liability for violence. If the school encourages fighting, even in self-defense, it opens itself up to a whole array of legal problems.

To stretch this line of reasoning even further, if a school isn't doing everything it can to prevent fighting, including Zero Tolerance, then isn't it in some way encouraging violence? Many people take up this line of reasoning and apply pressure on schools to adopt tough policies.


I find both of these arguments for Zero Tolerance unappealing.

The notion that Zero Tolerance reduces fighting is flawed. It seems like these policies actually enable predators to attack more freely. Troublemakers usually don't care about getting punished -- those nerds getting beat up, on the other hand, generally have more respect for the school's policies and rules.

I'm probably being too cynical, but a part of me thinks that school administrators are well aware of this effect, and actively encourage it. After all, it's good to have someone who can unofficially keep things in line. Such troublemaking students could always be transferred to another school if they get too out of hand.

More realistically, it's probably just administrators being lazy and not wanting to deal with these issues. Almost every student has been violently harassed at some point in his life, and, many can relate to a story of school officials who just didn't care.

But Seriously...

What are the implications of such a mindset? Are these policies indicative of deeper changes in the way we view individual action?

Society certainly holds individuals to a different standard outside the school system. Almost every moral code recognizes the right to self-defense. Even the US legal system has a strong tradition of protecting individals who take matters into their own hands.

As we should. In many cases, people are forced to defend themselves. They might be cornered by some villain--without recourse to any other option. Such a person would certainly be unable to simply seek out the proper authority and notify them of the problem. Even if they could escape to make such notification, what good does that do when the authorities either cannot or will not help.

Is this comparison appropriate for children? In some ways, I believe it is. After all, even grade school children face situations in which their only recourse is to take matters into their own hands. The existance of these situations should make us seriously question Zero Tolerance policies which rule out such situational factors.

Shades of Gray

From what I've said so far, it seems like the case against Zero Tolerance would be quite clear cut. In actuality, there are many gray areas.

First, in the case mentioned, an exemption did exist for self-defense. While expulsion was the set punishment for fighting, or fighting back, the school's policy also stated that self-defense would be considered before a student was expelled.

Yet I have problems with this as well. It seems unlikely that any sort of appeals process conducted at this level would be fair. Instead, the accused would almost certainly be railroaded through some kind of sham trial where his assumed guilt was taken as fact. School administration and staff are notoriously prone to groupthink. I'd imagine that a student's arguments in such a situation would carry very little weight when compared to the "trustworthy" teacher or administrator arguing for the toughest punishment. Furthermore, the previously mentioned community pressures to "get tough" would likely work against the student as well.

In fact, things get even murkier. Policies such as Zero Tolerance and the specific manner in which they are supposed to be administered are usually decided at the district level by school boards. Since the districts are local government bodies, policies vary geographically. Yet even local school districts usually govern many schools. In turn, there are several lower levels where discretion regarding district policies might interfere with implementation. For example, principals, teachers, and other staff might intervene with their own interpretations of the policy.

This is certainly what happened in the case at hand - teachers at Hastings High School specifically warned students that if they hit back against an attacker, they would be expelled.

Matthew Malloy

Matthew Malloy heeded those warnings. This seventeen year old baseball player standing over six feet tall and weighing in at over two hundred pounds was assaulted while escorting a frightened student across campus. He probably could have defended himself, at least to some degree, had he decided to do so. Instead, he decided not to fight back, in accordance with the policy as it was explained to him by school officials. He also wound up in the hospital with extensive injuries, including a broken jaw that has not completely healed two years later.

The Malloy family has filed suit against the district, contending that the policy in question left Matthew defenseless and ultimately contributed to the severity of his injury. The district certainly shares at least part of the responsibility for his injuries. Every person ought to be clearly protected in their right to defend themselves, not made to fear the consequences of doing so.

Yet such lawsuits seem an ineffective cure to the problem. Sure, some asshole administrator might be fired, and one district's policy might be changed, but at what cost? If Malloy's case is successful, millions of tax dollars might be diverted from the public schools into private hands. In this case, I'd say the Malloys deserve such funds, but, there is a huge problem with such means of dispute resolution--the public is forced to pay for the irresponsibility of a few school officials, draining already strained public coffers even further.


There is a fine line to be walked between appeasing communities that demand tough punishments and setting commonsense rules that allow people the basic right of self-defense. Furthermore, dispute resolution through the courts often leaves communities with even more problems than they began with. What is clear is that Zero Tolerance policies that forbid self-defense, limit consideration of critical circumstances, and encourage mass hysteria are wrongheaded and ought to be fought outright.


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The "Zero Tolerance" Approach to Fighting in Schools | 134 comments (129 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
Solution (1.90 / 20) (#2)
by kitten on Sat Aug 13, 2005 at 01:01:35 PM EST

If Malloy's case is successful, millions of tax dollars might be diverted from the public schools into private hands.

By their own admission of policy, the administrators are not doing anything. Why do we need them? If we're going to remove human decision-making from the loop, let's just replace them all with a database of crime -> punishment. You feed the student's transgression in as a simple statement: "skipping class", "fighting", "vandalism", and it spits back the punishment. That's all the administrators are doing anyway as long as zero-tolerance is in place, so why are we paying them?

I say fire them all if that's how they're going to conduct affairs. At my high school we had a principal, a vice-principal, and an administrator for each grade level, for a total of six idiots making let's say fifty thousand annually (conservative estimate -- education pay isn't high, as we all know, but I'm guessing the principal of an affluent school makes a comfy living). That's one hundred fifty thousand saved a year -- per school. With fifteen high schools in my district, that's two and a quarter million annually, and that's not counting the middle and elementary schools.

Budget problem solved, Malloys get their money, and hopefully they can fix their kids' jaw.

If the administration doesn't like it, they can start doing something to justify their jobs, like making decisions, and take it to the school board.

Also, let's stop spending millions equipping every punk high school kid with Powerbooks. Schools need to stop kidding themselves -- they've always been on the trailing edge of technology and kids will learn far more about computers and how to use them as research tools at home than they ever will from crappy CD-ROMs handed out on locked-down machines at school. There's another ten or twenty million.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
administrators do other things than discipline (3.00 / 4) (#5)
by lostincali on Sat Aug 13, 2005 at 04:53:31 PM EST

The administrators do alot of things that go beyond punishing students. They have to manage teachers, manage office staff, conduct public relations, etc, etc. There are a lot of loose ends to be brought together when running a school.

That said, you still make a good point. (Although I still disagree with this approach to punishment.) Some large schools have several vice-principals who are only there to do discipline. So obviously, there is some fat to be trimmed if we were to follow such a disciplinary policy.

"The least busy day [at McDonalds] is Monday, and then sales increase throughout the week, I guess as enthusiasm for life dwindles."
[ Parent ]

That's what I mean by "administrator" (2.33 / 9) (#9)
by kitten on Sat Aug 13, 2005 at 06:07:27 PM EST

Too many positions at high schools are strictly disciplinarian in action, and they don't do anything else.

And by the by, the administrators do substantially less than you think. Managing the staff, for one thing? The staff managed themselves at my school, by dint of assembling every day for three weeks prior to the start of the school year and holding round-table conferences (literally, a round table) and hammernig out a schedule, a curriculum, deciding how to handle new tests this year, etc. The administration had nothing whatsoever to do with it. I know all this because I was an aide to them for a year as an elective (sure beats gym). My primary duties involved wandering to classrooms to summon some student or other to Mister So-and-so's office so they could get yelled at.

High school pretty much runs itself. The students show up, have their assigned schedules (which is handled by staff, not administration), and the teachers teach and grade. The administrators are mostly there to deal with things that go wrong, and "things that go wrong" are students. They are first and foremost disciplinarians, airs to the contrary notwithstanding. And so, if they're going to insist that their hands are always tied due to policy, then it's time to either fire them and just let the policy do all the work, or have them admit that "it's policy" is not a valid means of enforcement or decision-making.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
Not just for fighting (2.15 / 13) (#3)
by kitten on Sat Aug 13, 2005 at 01:10:38 PM EST

Zero tolerance expands to anything these days. Some little kid is on the playground with his buddies pretending they're Neo and Agent Smith blazing away with guns made out of extended fingers, and this is a "warning sign" for which the kid needs to be expelled.

The people expelling the kids and making these policies are the same ones who, in their youth, pretended they were Batman beating the crap out of the Joker, Captain Kirk zapping Klingons, cops and robbers in a shootout, or Roy Rogers pumping lead into injuns.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
and don't forget (2.85 / 7) (#6)
by I Mod Everything Up But Kitten on Sat Aug 13, 2005 at 05:02:02 PM EST

those kids that commit the sin of bringing forks and sporks to school with to eat lunch. Clearly a violation of the no-weapons rule. Expel them all.

[ Parent ]
Re: and don't forget (3.00 / 5) (#33)
by SealBeater on Sun Aug 14, 2005 at 07:38:16 PM EST

the pencils and pens. I saw a kid get his eye gouged out with a pencil when I was in the 4th grade. I went to a pretty bad inner city school. Zero Tolerence wouldn't have worked there, when someone is attacking you with the intent to do grave bodily harm, expulsion or suspension is (and should be) the last thing on your mind. I would rather keep my eye than have a clean school record.

[ Parent ]
If we can't defend ourselves, what can we do? (3.00 / 2) (#80)
by starruler on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 06:06:47 PM EST

I'm a pretty good student, and, maybe a pretty on the geeky side. I probably appear to most of the bullies as an easy target. I'm not strong, I'd get pummelled in a fight, yet, not as bad as if I did nothing and tried to run and find an adminstrator. Plus, the security guards at my school, most of them couldn't break up a fight between two people really going at it. What does the school expect the victim to do, when not fighting only makes it worse?

[ Parent ]
They don't care (3.00 / 4) (#111)
by Shajenko on Wed Aug 17, 2005 at 02:01:02 PM EST

The administration doesn't really care about the kids under their perview. That's the only explanation as to why they would expell the VICTIMS of an attack.

[ Parent ]
Bags of sand too, (3.00 / 8) (#8)
by lostincali on Sat Aug 13, 2005 at 05:05:52 PM EST

I read a news story a while back where a child had offered a sandwich baggie full of sand to another child as a gift, or something, and the child was suspended for dealing look-alike drugs.

"The least busy day [at McDonalds] is Monday, and then sales increase throughout the week, I guess as enthusiasm for life dwindles."
[ Parent ]

Oh yes, Andy. (1.20 / 15) (#15)
by What Good Is A 150K Salary When Living In NYC on Sat Aug 13, 2005 at 09:06:21 PM EST

Your inane banter is so trite and completely unoriginal, could I please jerk off your dick now? Please do share some more idiotic thoughts with us all, we love to read things that we all thought of back in middle school.

Skulls, Bullets, and Gold
[ Parent ]
I hear that there is a Zero Tolerance approach... (1.40 / 5) (#19)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Sat Aug 13, 2005 at 11:25:25 PM EST

to mittens, soon. So you'd better hurry up!

[ Parent ]
Kitten gave me a zero! (1.50 / 1) (#92)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Tue Aug 16, 2005 at 05:00:08 AM EST

And he also gets plenty of them, too. I guess he does tolerate zeros after all.

[ Parent ]
This coming from (2.00 / 11) (#20)
by buck on Sat Aug 13, 2005 at 11:42:41 PM EST

a mental case with his trench coat and samurai sword out in the parking lot pretending to be Highlander.
“You, on the other hand, just spew forth your mental phlegmwads all over the place and don't have the goddamned courtesy to throw us a tissue afterwards.” -- kitten
[ Parent ]
link please (1.50 / 2) (#61)
by actmodern on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 11:03:09 AM EST

I must see this in more detail.

LilDebbie challenge: produce the water sports scene from bable or stfu. It does not exist.
[ Parent ]
OK (1.00 / 4) (#83)
by buck on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 09:18:16 PM EST

“You, on the other hand, just spew forth your mental phlegmwads all over the place and don't have the goddamned courtesy to throw us a tissue afterwards.” -- kitten
[ Parent ]
Swing and a miss! (none / 0) (#89)
by kitten on Tue Aug 16, 2005 at 02:43:21 AM EST

As I've said like, what, nine or ten times before?

This is the second time you idiots have done this, by the way. You're one for three so far.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
WHOA (1.40 / 5) (#23)
by Pat Chalmers on Sun Aug 14, 2005 at 04:45:06 AM EST


[ Parent ]
What I mean.. (none / 0) (#41)
by QuantumG on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 12:57:01 AM EST

is that when you're ready, you won't need to.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
back in the 80s ... (3.00 / 11) (#4)
by pyramid termite on Sat Aug 13, 2005 at 02:07:27 PM EST

... my kid brother was going to high school ... he was having trouble with someone ... on his way walking home, one day, he was confronted by this someone, who had a bunch of friends of his along in a pickup truck ... my brother, being smart, figured this was not a good time to settle the matter and let himself get pushed around a little and finally got home

the next morning, he walked into the class where this someone was ... his enemy was sitting in one of those combination deskchairs ... my brother upended this guy's deskchair and proceeded to beat the crap out of him

he got suspended for a week ... my dad, who was an educator in another school district, just laughed and said he'd have done the same thing

as far as the kid with the broken jaw is concerned, getting suspended from school is not such a big deal ... and why the hell weren't criminal charges pressed against the assailants? ... why aren't the parents of these goons being sued, too?

it doesn't seem to be much of a zero tolerance regime when someone can break somebody's jaw and not be arrested for it

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.

A couple points (3.00 / 9) (#7)
by lostincali on Sat Aug 13, 2005 at 05:03:54 PM EST

1) The Zero Tolerance policy in this case wasn't for suspension -- teachers explained that anyone involved in fighting would be expelled from the school.

2) The Malloys are also suing the four former students involved in the attack

3) My sentiments are pretty much the same as your father's -- We all want the ability to defend ourselves, and ought to act on that, policies be damned.

"The least busy day [at McDonalds] is Monday, and then sales increase throughout the week, I guess as enthusiasm for life dwindles."
[ Parent ]

Lawsuit (none / 0) (#131)
by bmicomp on Tue Aug 30, 2005 at 05:53:12 PM EST

Although the Meloys are suing the four boys along with the school district. This implies that it is a civil matter, instead of a criminal matter (in other words, they are not being charged with a crime such as assault/battery, just for money).

[ Parent ]
Some thoughts and my favorite story (3.00 / 8) (#28)
by omegadan on Sun Aug 14, 2005 at 11:59:48 AM EST

and why the hell weren't criminal charges pressed against the assailants?

They were probably bad kids, thats why. At my school (long ago, early 90's) there was an absolute double standard. The "bad kids", the gang members, did whatever they wanted with impunity. The school hardly ever punished them, there wasn't any point in it -- they were doomed to begin with. Yet they would take a "good kid" to task over the smallest thing. I tried the ghandi thing for a while, but just got beat up more as school bullies learned I was an easy mark.

My favorite story: I grew up in a very small, very poor town in California, and football was *VERY* big there. Outside of a school, 3 star football players jumped a kid "because he was a nerd". Left him unconscious in the gutter in front of the school, bleeding profusely. They each received a 1 day suspension -- just enough time to allow them to play in the next game. They clearly they should have been held out for criminal prosecution. There were protests by parents outside the school, and I thin eventually they expelled the kids. But not before we got our dose of hypocrisy.

Religion is a gateway psychosis. - Dave Foley
[ Parent ]

My first week of school (3.00 / 7) (#73)
by haplopeart on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 01:43:09 PM EST

...back in 1983 when I moved to a new town...the class asshole/bully/idiot deceided to attempt to establish dominance.

He tried to get my to fall in line I was having none of it...he finally took a swing at me unprovoked (other than I was basically ignoring him) as he walked into the classroom and I had already sat down at my desk.  

Why he wanted to mess with me I have no idea I was 5'10' and 170+ lbs in the 5th grade when this happened.  I had been playing football and soccer in my old town as well as riding my bike pretty much whenever I wasn't in school.

The bully/asshole's swing connected square between the bottom of my ribs since I wasn't particuarly paying attention.  I did the only thing that came to mind.  I jumped up turned around shoved him against the lab table (it was science classrom) that ran along the back of the room.  Belted him in the face multiple times, kicked him the crotch, beat his head against the cabinet over head.  Bent his arm till he screamed bloody murder, finally got him turned around and pinned.  About that time the teacher showed up, and we were off to the vice-principal's office.

The kid didn't return to school for 5 days.  His eye socket had to be reconstructed (For the rest of school he was partially blind in that eye).  His testicles were severly swollen after the kick.  I had dislocated his shoulder and snapped to ligaments.  

His punishment...suspention...mine "offically" the same...however when I was handed the suspension slip I was told..."officially I have to give you this, however just come to school and go to class, I have been waiting all year to see someone beat the shit out of that asshole"
Bill "Haplo Peart" Dunn
Administrator Epithna.com

[ Parent ]

Au contraire (2.95 / 22) (#10)
by starX on Sat Aug 13, 2005 at 07:15:14 PM EST

Yet such lawsuits seem an ineffective cure to the problem

It seems to me that the genesis of the Zero Tolerance policy against anything is that the insitution can provide an environment where it need not and cannot be tolerated.  This is fairly strait forward when it comes to drugs, arguments of the legality issues aside, there is no reason to tolerate drug use on school property.  Ah, but violence....

Here we run into this tricky problem.  The philosophy of zero tolerance for violence says that the institution is providing an environment where violence simply isn't necessary.  "Self defense" is not an excuse because there is no such thing as self defense, if you were fighting, you must necessarily be an aggresor because the school will guarantee an educational environment where there is never a need for violence of any sort.  Violence is therefore a choice, and since it is a choice that need not be tolerated, any exhibition of aggression will be dealt with swiftly and severely.

To whit, I think taking legal action is a perfect solution for dealing with zero tolerance as a whole.  If the school makes the guarantee that there is never a need for violence, and they fail to live up to that guarantee, then they are ethically liable for any damages incurred by the offended party, and ought to be held legally accountable as well.  Yes, this school district is damaged, but it sends a message to other school districts.  

On a personal level, I have mixed feelings about this.  Being one of the more nerdly types in my lower education days, I was often times on the receiving end of others attacks, the sort where a large group of large people feel the need to demonstrate their superiority by sneak attacking a single individual obviously unable to beatthem.  Ah school logic... anyway, the sick twist was that these tended to be the more popular kids, whose parents were more influential in the community, and thus they would easily escape any punishmentif I made complaint, whilst I would then be scolded for making false claims.  We're wondering why suburbanites started arming themselves?  Zero tolerance policies would ensure that, at the very least, they did not escape scott free, and many of these were people who would have cared about such things as suspension, being unable to participate in extra curriculars, etc.  So I can appreciate zero tolerance on that level; for those individuals it would probably have deterred them from attacking me.  Then again, there were the usual asortment of low-lifes who had nothing to lose (the sort that mostly didn't finish high school anyway), and while they would not have been adversly affected by this; I would have got jumped and suspended/expelled, they would have got suspended expelled, but for them it was only a matter of time anyway.

At issue is that school administrators seem to fail to take responsibility for what goes on in their schools.  If two students fight and one is punished and the other is not, how are they to justify this to an angry/complaining parent who threatens legal action? Sadly, the complaint of a parent has become enough to nullify not only breaches of the code of conduct, but of academic failure as well.  I wish I had an easy answer, but my best recommendation is (and I shudder as I say this) increased survelance by security cameras and hall monitors, and a formal process for reviewing those complaints.  Teachers also need to be trained to respond to violent situations promptly, and society as a whole needs to accept and deal with the fact that sometimes adults will have to break up fights, and sometimes the young adults they supervised may be injured in this process in a way that doesn't involve lawsuites, dismissal, and criminal prosecution.  

Then again, should the day come when I reproduce, I'm thinking of home schooling as the most viable option to the current policy of leaving every child behind so it appears as if none are.

"I like you starX, you disagree without sounding like a fanatic from a rock-solid point of view. Highfive." --WonderJoust

thank you for this post. good stuff. (none / 1) (#68)
by lostincali on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 01:12:45 PM EST

I don't really know how to reply other than say I really appreciate the discussion you've contributed, that you've made a compelling case for legal action against ZT, and that I enjoyed that last line quite a bit.

"The least busy day [at McDonalds] is Monday, and then sales increase throughout the week, I guess as enthusiasm for life dwindles."
[ Parent ]

unappealing, it may be (2.00 / 8) (#11)
by khallow on Sat Aug 13, 2005 at 07:42:40 PM EST

I find both of these arguments for Zero Tolerance unappealing.

Unappealing isn't a good reason to dismiss arguments. I find, that the idea that I have to diet and exercise in order to lose weight and be healthy, is unappealing. I'd rather eat whatever I want, and sit in my chair and surf K5. In other words, unappealing arguments need not be in the wrong.

Stating the obvious since 1969.

hm, just a bad word choice maybe? (3.00 / 3) (#12)
by lostincali on Sat Aug 13, 2005 at 07:51:46 PM EST

got any suggestions for an improvement?

"These arguments don't appeal to me."
Like that? Or
"These arguments suck balls."
Like that? Or would the drier,
"I find both of these arguments for Zero Tolerance to be insufficient," work better?

"The least busy day [at McDonalds] is Monday, and then sales increase throughout the week, I guess as enthusiasm for life dwindles."
[ Parent ]

Unappealing --> Repulsive /nt (3.00 / 4) (#14)
by localroger on Sat Aug 13, 2005 at 08:48:42 PM EST

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
oh yea (3.00 / 2) (#75)
by khallow on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 01:57:04 PM EST

I think "flawed" was good. Some other choices that spring to mind: "sloppy","self-serving", "morally bankrupt". Maybe even drop the sentence, unless you think the audience would be surprised that you're going to disagree.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

The laughable part... (2.87 / 8) (#13)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Sat Aug 13, 2005 at 08:18:29 PM EST

Is that it's often impossible to know. Was he just throwing punches back, or only try to keep them from beating on his face?

I would be suprised if there weren't many more cases of both parties being punished than there were cases where both fought.

Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.

About time... (2.83 / 6) (#16)
by BlahFace on Sat Aug 13, 2005 at 09:37:08 PM EST

...I already graduated awhile back, never got in any fights, but that policy pissed me off.

Just another example (3.00 / 20) (#17)
by Kasreyn on Sat Aug 13, 2005 at 10:17:11 PM EST

of the refusal of administrators, bosses, etc., to do their jobs.

Considering mitigating factors and paying attention to details and grey areas would be too much like work, you see. Instead, they have decided to avoid their responsibilities with black-and-white policies. Calling it "getting tough" is an excellent way to spin and package what is essentially a full-scale retreat from dealing with reality. Because of course, dealing with reality is always something the fucking boomers have always had a serious problem with. It seems they prefer having a policy that excuses them from having to think.

An example would be the managment at my place of employment. Their misguided attempt at being "tough on tardiness" has backfired and given employees an incentive to miss more work. They recently changed their attendance policy from one which payed attention to the total amount of time missed and other mitigating factors, such as family problems, to a black-and-white policy with automatic warnings and termination at x number of tardy instances. These instances can be thirty seconds or thirty minutes, it doesn't matter at all, so one person could miss ten times as much work as another person and be punished far more lightly, as long as they do it in large enough chunks. The managers don't even have the authority to consider mitigating factors. So the natural result has been that when an employee knows he's going to be a minute or two late, he shrugs his shoulders and goes to run some errands or whatever. Why not? It's still one instance.

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
"getting tough" (2.85 / 7) (#24)
by The Diary Section on Sun Aug 14, 2005 at 05:13:31 AM EST

is something I'm a bit sick of. It seems to be the current political paradigm for dealing with anything, and as you say, its actually the complete opposite of really dealing with anything in a manner consistent with the reality. This seems particularly marked in the UK at the moment, just as in the US there is an ongoing "War on things that we need a war against", our equivalent is "Being tough on things that we need to be tough on". So far we've had "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime", "tough on waste in the NHS", and I believe we are also shortly going to be "tough on disrespect in society" (LOL). The Mayor Gulliani-related "zero tolerance" thing is also taking off a lot as well, with rather mixed results.

I think someone needs to organise an international conference entitled "War on soundbites as policy: tough on lazy political thinking - tough on the causes of lazy political thinking".
Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]

I was beat up in Junior High back in the 80s... (2.93 / 15) (#18)
by parrillada on Sat Aug 13, 2005 at 11:21:39 PM EST

...I didn't fight back. Didn't throw a single punch. Was still suspended and otherwise punished to the exact same extent as the kid who beat me up. Totally ridiculous.

I hope Matthew Malloy bankrupts his school district.

Zero Tolerance or Racism (2.50 / 6) (#21)
by BWS on Sun Aug 14, 2005 at 03:01:13 AM EST

I've come to belive that Zero Tolerence is the solution they came up with to avoid calls of Racism/Discrimiation. Before Zero Tolerance, you had the administration make an "SUBJECTIVE" judgement in a fight. Who started it? Did the other person fight also or was it self-defense? (Remember, there is a very fine line between self-defense and fighting). And if there was a case when a black student started to fight a white student and only the black student got suspended (cause the white student was acting in self defense), you have hollars of racism and discrimations and possibly lawsuits. Zero Tolerance in the design avoids all problems with racism, discrimination, and related lawsuits. The system is "OBJECTIVE", both parties in a fight by throwing a punch or kick is suspended. There is no "SUBJECTIVE" decision on the part of the administration.
-- Comments are by ME, not YOU! ME! ME! ME!
Except... (3.00 / 4) (#36)
by yamla on Sun Aug 14, 2005 at 10:10:51 PM EST

Except, of course, students are being expelled even if they did NOT throw a punch or kick.  That is, just getting kicked or punched WITHOUT DEFENDING YOURSELF is sufficient grounds to be expelled in some zero tolerance districts.

Your point that ZT eliminates the accusations of racism is probably valid, however.

[ Parent ]

Zero Tolerance or Racism (2.75 / 12) (#22)
by BWS on Sun Aug 14, 2005 at 03:10:08 AM EST

I've come to belive that Zero Tolerence is the solution they came up with to avoid calls of Racism/Discrimiation.

Before Zero Tolerance, you had the administration make an "SUBJECTIVE" judgement in a fight. Who started it? Did the other person fight also or was it self-defense? (Remember, there is a very fine line between self-defense and fighting). And if there was a case when a black student started to fight a white student and only the black student got suspended (cause the white student was acting in self defense), you have hollars of racism and discrimations and possibly lawsuits.

Zero Tolerance in the design avoids all problems with racism, discrimination, and related lawsuits. The system is "OBJECTIVE", both parties in a fight by throwing a punch or kick is suspended. There is no "SUBJECTIVE" decision on the part of the administration.
-- Comments are by ME, not YOU! ME! ME! ME!

The points your essay should have covered... (2.93 / 16) (#26)
by omegadan on Sun Aug 14, 2005 at 11:44:46 AM EST

Where to begin. Zero tolerance is pretty much like religion, its a lie meant to keep you acting like other people want you to. Some people believe the lie, some don't, and a few take it way too far. Like religion again, Zero tolerance provides a simplistic, black and white, no thought zone where good and bad are clearly defined.

In california there is a big-to-do about a 16 year old honor role student who has never missed a *DAY* of school since kindergarden. She accidently came to school with a small pocket knife she uses at her after school job at albertsons to open boxes. Curiously, the administration makes a mockery of their own policy. The expelled her because "she was a danger to other students". Yet allowed her to complete her senior year at another school in the district.

Zero tolerance fighting policies are an even stickier situation than drug policies (we all knew the girl who was expelled for bringing midol to school in highschool), or weapon policies (we all knew the kid who was expelled for bringing a plastic knife with his lunch -- yes this has happened). You have a constitutional *RIGHT* to defend yourself when attacked. Period. End of story. The zero tolerance fighting rules are unconstitutional on their face.

Zero tolerance rules also eliminate the incentive *NOT* to fight. My university had a policy, that any two people who fought, even if the other did not fight back, would be expelled (this is actually how most zero tollerance rules are formulated). I recall, a friend of mine was being hastled by this guy who punched him. His exact words were, "Fuck it, I'm already expelled." He proceded to beat the ever loving shit out of the prick.

Religion is a gateway psychosis. - Dave Foley

The Permanent State of Terror (2.90 / 21) (#27)
by localroger on Sun Aug 14, 2005 at 11:51:58 AM EST

While one's immediate reaction to this kind of thing is to think "how stupid," it's far too common and exists too broadly to be a complete accident.

Norman Spinrad's second novel, published in 1967, was Agent of Chaos. In this totalitarian future dystopia all of society is governed by an omniscient computer system which monitors all public spaces for "unpermitted acts." An "unpermitted act" is any act which is not present on a finite list of "permitted acts" programmed into the Big Computer. When the computer detects an Unpermitted Act, it activates the secondary system for dealing with crime -- it pops the nearest Beam, killing the perpetrator with a deadly blast of radiation. Of course this system can catch innocent nearby bystanders, but as the Hegemony puts it, "better a million Citizens die than one Unpermitted Act go unpunished."

Late in the novel the prospect is raised that the Big Computer might not be all it's cracked up to be; after all a small underground does manage to survive. In this case, one wonders, does the Big Computer just pop Beams at random in order to create the illusion of total control? One character asserts that it would be much cheaper, and the results no different, than if the means of control were real.

That is what these life-destroying Zero Tolerance and War On [insert common activity] things are. They are Beams meant to keep us in a constant state of terror so that we remain fearful and compliant. It doesn't matter if the expelled child is really dangerous; the others will get the message. It doesn't matter if the drugs were planted on you by a cop or left in your car by its previous owner; people will get the message. Your life is a small price for them to pay to keep everyone else in line.

Of course this only works on the Haves, the people who are fearful of losing their privileged status as wards of the system. This part was addressed better by another dystopian novel, Orwell's 1984, where it was made explicit that the elaborate system of thought control was directed mainly at Party members, not the "proles" whose activities were below the radar. Police action against the underclass is not intended to eliminate antisocial behavior, but to frighten the Party members into toeing the line. But the joke is on the Party members; the proles know the score and live with it. It's the Party members who think that if they are obedient enough they will be safe who are the real schmucks.

We have incidents like the one described here, we have children far too young to understand being expelled for having harmless plastic toys which simply represent (or even seem to some pinhead to represent) banned things, we have homes and vehicles and large sums of cash basically stolen by the police over a few ounces of marijuana which doesn't even turn out to exist, and except for a few plaintive peeps like this article our society has basically accepted it all.

The only good to come out of it will be that one day we will open up Thomas Jefferson's grave, hook a belt around his spinning corpse, and generate enough electricity to run our entire civilization.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer

Of course... (3.00 / 2) (#34)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Sun Aug 14, 2005 at 07:41:28 PM EST

There is the theory that in 1979, an unexplained seismic event on the east cost was indeed, his body being vaporized by the incredible centrifugal forces.

Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
Sigged (none / 0) (#88)
by Eight Star on Tue Aug 16, 2005 at 01:46:48 AM EST

Thank you again

[ Parent ]
there is no mention of cases before the zt trend (2.60 / 5) (#30)
by lukme on Sun Aug 14, 2005 at 02:28:58 PM EST

Why did this policy come about - what was the school system liable for before?

Should weaker students start bringing guns so that they properly defend themselves? If not guns, then should we expect them to take steriods, in order to keep up with the other larger students?

It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
Perhaps... (none / 1) (#44)
by BJH on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 02:11:27 AM EST

...they should take steroids instead, as I here they make people bulk up.

Dunno about those steriods, though.
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]

HS before zero tolerance (2.71 / 7) (#63)
by Sgt York on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 12:25:05 PM EST

My high school had no such policy, I grew up before this stuff really took hold in my area.

Fights were dealt with with the circumstances held in consideration. In the simple cases, the scrawny guy that has a broken nose, torn shirt, and a black eye was let off with a slap on the wrist, and the big burly guy with a small bruise on his cheekbone got suspended for a few days. They figured that if the scrwany guy started it, he already got punished, and the big guy is punished for pressing the attack against a weaker opponent.

Of course, it was not always that clear cut. Normally, the two involved would go see the principal and sit in separate rooms, alone, for an hour or so to cool off. During that time, every kid that was in the area was questioned, starting with the ones that hardly knew either kid.

Then the Inquisition would begin. This included at least one parent of each kid, the kids' homeroom teachers or whatever other faculty knew the kid best, and the assistant principal. They could last quite some time. Guilt would be assigned, and punishment doled out accordingly. Neither kid got off scott free, the idea being that you should learn to avoid fights, but it was almost always lopsided.

The difference? The adminstrators, faculty, and parents made a commitment of time and effort into the situation, both before and after the incident. Teachers got to know students, and cared about their situations long before the fight broke out. The teachers knew the kids, and the administrators knew and respected that fact. Nowadays, they simply aren't willing or able to put in the time.

And, yes, I got into a good number of fights in high school. I was a mega-nerd with a gimp shoulder in junior high, and packed on the mass and height my freshman year. Then, I was once-picked on kid with a chip on his shoulder that was suddenly 6 inches taller and 30 pounds heavier than the guys that tormented him two years before. Bad mix.

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

As a follower of consequence ethics I object.. (2.00 / 7) (#31)
by boxed on Sun Aug 14, 2005 at 02:54:29 PM EST

...to your reasoning. The point of ZT is to lower violence (in this specific case). You say "The notion that Zero Tolerance reduces fighting is flawed. It seems like these policies actually enable predators to attack more freely" yet back this up with absolutely no facts whatsoever. For something to "seem" to be in a certain way it has be backed with more than your worldview or beliefs. It's very simple: you can just do the math on this. Does it or does it not work?

Personally I don't believe ZT has a significant effect, if at all it's measurable. But that is faith, and I don't trust my own faith in this issue until I've seen solid facts showing numbers.

Don't agree, necessarily (3.00 / 2) (#32)
by lostincali on Sun Aug 14, 2005 at 04:53:17 PM EST

For something to "seem" to be in a certain way it has be backed with more than your worldview or beliefs. It's very simple: you can just do the math on this. Does it or does it not work

Not too get too semantic, but, when I said "it seems this way," I meant, "I have some reasons to believe that it is this way, but not necessarily any data." Your objection is valid -- I don't have an data to back this up.

My point is, I do have a line of reasoning that should at the very least raise serious questions about the suitability of ZT, given the lack of any good data regarding its effectiveness (on either side).

"The least busy day [at McDonalds] is Monday, and then sales increase throughout the week, I guess as enthusiasm for life dwindles."
[ Parent ]

doubt should be raised even if it makes 100% sense (2.75 / 4) (#78)
by boxed on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 05:34:27 PM EST

A lot of shit is perfectly logical but when measures turns out to be totally false. Like death penalty working as a deterrent for example. Or that the sun rotates around the earth. Every single thing that has not been tested should be tested, no matter how seemingly obvious it is.

[ Parent ]
I fought a lot in school... (3.00 / 6) (#38)
by mek2600 on Sun Aug 14, 2005 at 11:08:35 PM EST

... and it was massively organized. We called it "football" and it was the best thing that could have happened to me at that time.

rasslin (2.66 / 3) (#72)
by skelter on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 01:30:12 PM EST

I find wrestling is better in this respect.

[ Parent ]
girlfriend (3.00 / 3) (#79)
by greenplato on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 05:41:41 PM EST

Getting laid was crucial for me.  But whatever works to keep highschoolers out of trouble...

[ Parent ]
I have some unsolicited advice for high schoolers: (2.64 / 14) (#39)
by daani on Sun Aug 14, 2005 at 11:21:23 PM EST

If someone hits you, put your hand in your pocket, pull out your phone and call the police. Press charges as far as you can. This is the fucking twenty first century - just because some cockhead is in the rugby team it doesn't give him a license to assault you.

Teachers and other school officials may try to dissuade you from this course of action. Tell them a crime has taken place and if they try to stop you from reporting it, you'll be reporting that too.

The schoolyard is not a world apart from society where anything goes.

Eh? (3.00 / 3) (#40)
by BlahFace on Sun Aug 14, 2005 at 11:43:27 PM EST

The schoolyard is not a world apart from society where anything goes?

The law certainly does not apply, and neither does the bill of rights...

[ Parent ]

what? care to explain? (none / 1) (#49)
by lostincali on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 03:20:57 AM EST

"The least busy day [at McDonalds] is Monday, and then sales increase throughout the week, I guess as enthusiasm for life dwindles."
[ Parent ]

Say what? (2.80 / 10) (#59)
by Verteiron on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 10:40:46 AM EST

Sorry, have you ever BEEN to school? Maybe you were lucky and are home-schooled. Students have no rights the moment they walk through the doors of a school, especially a school for minors such as high school.

Let's just go down the list.

I) Free speech? Forget it. Speak your mind and you're being "disruptive". You will be punished. Freedom of religion? Maybe. Depends on whether or not you live in Kansas, I guess. Peacable assembly? Unless it's a Nazi-esque "pep rally", you can forget it. Students that congregate outside the administration office to protest problems will likely be suspended en masse.

II) Ah, guns. As far as I know minors can't be licensed to carry weapons unsupervised, so this probably doesn't apply.

III) Students are not, as far as I know, forced to quarter soldiers.

IV) Freedom from unreasonable search and seizure? Right. Penn and Teller's fantastic show "Bullshit" just recently featured some nice footage of cops running through hallways, pointing their service weapons at students and tearing their backpacks open on the SUSPICION of drug possession. I went to school in south Texas, near the border, and I can tell you that sort of thing goes on all the time.

V) Let's see, guarantee of due process? Meet Zero Tolerance. Amendment V also states that "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation". Teachers are free to confiscate students' belongings and are rarely required to return them.

VI) Speedy trial. Well, within the confines of the schools, this genuinely may not apply since you need not be attend trial to be accused of a crime and receive punishment.

VII) Trial by jury. Again, you may be expelled from school at any time without having criminal charges brought against you, so this seems to not really apply.

VIII) No excessive bail. Fine. No cruel and unusual punishments. Well, it depends on how you define cruel and unusual; frankly I feel that required to attend school in the first place violates this one, but I digress.

IX and X) Enumeration of rights of guarantee of rights not enumerated. Hard to see how these apply either way in the school setting.

So.. out of the bill of rights, I, IV and V are null and void in the school setting. VI and VII is questionable, since being suspended/expelled is not a legal punishment. However, since all minors are required to attend school, expulsion could set up a student and their guardians for legal problems.

This last point is really what makes the whole problem rather sticky. If school was a voluntary thing, then it would be easier to rationalize the suspension of certain rights. But school is NOT voluntary, it is mandatory. Failure to attend will result in fines, community service and eventually being taken to school by armed officers using force. So, the state forces minors to spend a large portion of their lives in an environment where the rights they are guaranteed will be flagrantly violated on a daily basis.

In retrospect I suppose this is good preparation for life as an adult under the PATRIOT act.
Prisoners! Seize each other!
[ Parent ]

I don't have much of a response (3.00 / 2) (#64)
by lostincali on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 01:03:00 PM EST

First, alot of these things go with local variability. I'm sure there are some schools out there which are the perfect little models of student freedom, (for a laugh, look into "democratic classrooms") just as others are like little prison camps.

Anyway, I know for a fact that the courts have upheld at least some student rights under the Bill of Rights. And, laws most certainly still apply in school -- for example, if you're assaulted in a school, and the school doesn't call the police and report it, the law still applies.

So while I see your point, I think you're taking it a bit far.

"The least busy day [at McDonalds] is Monday, and then sales increase throughout the week, I guess as enthusiasm for life dwindles."
[ Parent ]

simplest solution (3.00 / 4) (#77)
by fuchikoma on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 04:33:21 PM EST

Verterion seems to have a perspective from the southern USA. I live in Western Canada, and what he said was pretty much bang-on. I graduated in 1999, but I remember what it was like - I went to a decent school comparatively, but basically we were treated like animals in the ways he mentioned, and I've yet to hear of a public school where things weren't like that.

Quite simply, it's hard to manage that many kids with a typical school's staff ratio, so they strip you of your rights and run it as an authoritarian regime. Think of it as being in a constant state of martial law. I hated it while I was there, but I could see why they had to run it like that... to the students, anywhere that isn't currently supervised is lawless, so if something goes bad, someone's caught with a weapon, someone's stirring up the crowds, they have to step in and deal with it as fast and definitively as possible.

[ Parent ]

courts? wtf? (none / 1) (#84)
by army of phred on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 10:04:15 PM EST

if the judge thinks you are cute, he will PERSONALLY ESCORT YOU TO HIS CHAMBERS AND FUCK YOU IN THE ASS.

Man you people with your rose colored glasses.

"Republicans are evil." lildebbie
"I have no fucking clue what I'm talking about." motormachinemercenary
"my wife is getting a blowjob" ghostoft1ber
[ Parent ]

woah, overreaction a little? (3.00 / 2) (#85)
by lostincali on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 10:41:00 PM EST

Woah there, turbo,

can you tell me how you get from "courts have ruled that certain rights apply to students" to "well, judges can fuck people up the ass." I guess both are true statements. But how you jump from one to the other, I'm clueless.

Rose - colored glasses? Is this directed at me? What are you talking about?

"The least busy day [at McDonalds] is Monday, and then sales increase throughout the week, I guess as enthusiasm for life dwindles."
[ Parent ]

You're missing the point. (2.00 / 2) (#43)
by russkiypenguin on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 02:05:36 AM EST

a) Most children, not even high-school children, own cellphones. b) Your response doesn't answer how to deal with staying in school. Yes, you've been assaulted and if your advice is taken then your assailant is now under charges. IT DOESN'T MATTER UNDER THIS NEW SYSTEM. You're both at fault and you will now be kicked out of school.

[ Parent ]
That's foolish... (2.50 / 6) (#45)
by SealBeater on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 02:28:21 AM EST

If someone hits you, put your hand in your pocket, pull out your phone and call the police.
That's really stupid, no offense. To qoute my own words, what makes you think I am going to let you get to a phone? If you put your hands in your pockets, not only are you making it harder for you to fight back, you are giving the person attacking you an incentive to kill you, since they don't know what you are reaching for, and in all probablity, it's a weapon.

[ Parent ]
Take your time (3.00 / 3) (#53)
by pediddle on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 04:24:42 AM EST

You're right -- the solution is to just wait until after you've gotten the sh*t beat out of you before making the call.  Talk to the police through your broken jaw.

[ Parent ]
Brilliant (3.00 / 3) (#60)
by Verteiron on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 10:47:29 AM EST

Now you've got injuries AND your cellphone has been stolen/smashed/thrown onto the roof.
Prisoners! Seize each other!
[ Parent ]
If your highschool is such that you might (3.00 / 2) (#91)
by daani on Tue Aug 16, 2005 at 04:15:20 AM EST

get killed for putting your hand in your pocket you shouldn't set foot in the place. Seriously.

[ Parent ]
Someone hits you with his fist... (1.60 / 5) (#70)
by haplopeart on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 01:24:38 PM EST

...hit him back with a 2x4...

Reach down his pants and grab his cock and yank hard he'll go down right fast....
then pound his head against the floor until his ears bleed.

Your an idiot...is all these laws that are the problem with society.  Things worked much better when everyone wasn't walking around with all this supressed anger.
Bill "Haplo Peart" Dunn
Administrator Epithna.com

[ Parent ]

First, run away (none / 0) (#112)
by ultimai on Wed Aug 17, 2005 at 07:40:17 PM EST

First run away [to a phone] (or run in circles) and then call the police.

And this style of self defense would be far more suited to a ZT school:

[ Parent ]

Yeah (none / 1) (#119)
by FuriousXGeorge on Fri Aug 19, 2005 at 06:15:47 AM EST

...and end up suspended for having a cell phone in school.  ;)

[ Parent ]

Rather poor article (2.75 / 8) (#42)
by Dogun on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 01:37:28 AM EST

However, this is a good topic for lots of anecdotes, which is what the site is really all about, right?

So, mine was one of those "zero tolerance" middle schools.  They were not big fans of expulsion, but believed in long suspensions for everybody involved.

Except in my case, where I was assaulted by three people in my grade, in a coordinated fashion, while I was doing whatever it was that kids did during recess.  Running around, playing on "gym" equipment.  Good stuff.

So, there were three of them, 1 of me, and while I was a reasonably tough little nerd, I didn't stand a chance.  The big guy was interested in punching me in the face, the fat one went for my legs, and the other one just kicked me and pushed me whenever he could.  There must have been 20 other kids around to see it all.

Eventually, I realized one of the guys was going for my legs as I was knocked over, so I bit the guy on his back on the way down.  It continued for a few minutes and then it was over - I was not putting up much of a fight anymore, but I did manage to rip a big root out of the ground and shout really loudly.  I guess it was a loud shout, since they backed off about then, probably concerned that a teacher might notice the beat up kid.

Of course, my face was a mess and my nose was bleeding, and there was dirt all over me, so it was pretty obvious I'd just gotten my ass kicked when a teacher saw me.

The vice principle interrogated us all.  One of the threesome was given a single day out of school suspension and I was given 5 days in-school suspension and told not to complete any assignments because I had bitten another student in self-defence.  I landed exactly one punch in the entire exchange, and it sure as hell wasn't the first one, so... yeah.  I'm not a big fan of ZT policies, since I got the raw end of the deal in the fight and afterwards, and that was that.

However, this article is crap.  Give it another rewrite if you plan on showing it to somebody.

re: crappy article (3.00 / 2) (#51)
by lostincali on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 03:44:35 AM EST

You're right, it's not the best writing. Got any specific advice for me?

"The least busy day [at McDonalds] is Monday, and then sales increase throughout the week, I guess as enthusiasm for life dwindles."
[ Parent ]

Ever think about "zero tolerance"? (2.60 / 5) (#46)
by Lode Runner on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 02:29:55 AM EST

Where did this "zero tolerance" metaphor come from?

When I ask, I'm usually informed that it's from engineering/materials science. But I've never heard of a system or substance that embodies this concept.

Could it be that the term is entirely a fabrication of politicians (that means you, Rudy!) and petty bureaucrats (e.g. school administrators) who're trying to make their fascistic little schemes seem scientifically-grounded or somehow rational?

Wow, someone told you that it was from (none / 1) (#48)
by lostincali on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 03:17:43 AM EST

engineering or materials science? Sounds like some marketing to me too...

I always thought it was just a catchphrase used to sell the policy. Science is all the rage these days, ya know. Call it scientific, viola!

"The least busy day [at McDonalds] is Monday, and then sales increase throughout the week, I guess as enthusiasm for life dwindles."
[ Parent ]

engineering tolerance (3.00 / 4) (#90)
by frozencrow on Tue Aug 16, 2005 at 03:10:49 AM EST

tolerance is the measure of how much error you can handle (or advertise.) basically the same idea as margin of error. a 1K resistor with 5% tolerance will, when measured, have an actual value in the 950-1050 range. in real engineering applications, you generally don't get anywhere near zero, and you never get all the way there. a zero tolerance component is what we call "made up bullshit."

anyway, zt is just a catch phrase, as you suspect. "tolerance" is a noun referring to the amount of error or whatever you're willing to put up with, and the policy is to not put up with anything. i guess "no" didn't have enough syllables or 10-point letters in it.

[ Parent ]
I think Reagan's enforcement initiative (3.00 / 2) (#58)
by Battle Troll on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 10:39:15 AM EST

That confiscated vehicles used to transport drugs over borders was called "Operation Zero Tolerance." I remember there were a bunch of stories about it in Canada when some lady got her car confiscated because she wasn't carrying the prescription for her allergy medication when she went to DE-troit to buy gas, or something retarded like that.
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
Didn't you know? (none / 1) (#76)
by BlahFace on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 02:29:07 PM EST

Every shitty little law or plan by government/etc has to have a euphenism or catchphrase, equally lame.

[ Parent ]
Zero Tolerance (2.85 / 7) (#47)
by Silver6 on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 03:09:39 AM EST

I myself go to a high school in which a zero tolerance policy exists. If there is a fight, both parties are automatically suspended for three days. I have never really had a personal problem with this policy because
A) I've never been in a real physical fight
B) There simply are not that many fights at my school
C) The vast majority of fights occur because both parties are being idiots in a manner that is offensive to the opposite party.

I don't think that the fact such policies exist is because of some sweeping social trend, escape from racism, lazy administrators, or an attempt to keep the public afraid. It is an attempt by school boards to cut down on the number of fights that happen, period. The assumption is that fights occur because both parties are antagonizing each other, in one way or another, and that if there is a zero tolerance policy, both sides will be less willing to provoke the other, regardless of who begins the physical violence. In the huge majority of fights, this is true, so to an extent, these policies work.

This is high school, however. It is difficult to distinguish between a humorous jab and a stinging insult, and often a reaction to some small sort of antagonization, the kind that happens a LOT in high school, is vastly overblown. This means that one person is flipping the fuck out, and the other just doesn't want to get beaten up. Remember, this is high school. Most people would rather finish the fight physically and not run away to some teacher, regardless of the policy.

This article basically just seems to say that zero tolerance policies are bad for a number of reasons. How about a more interesting or researched conclusion, or an article that delves into the faculty culture that creates such policies. So many things are rediculously bad about public education today that picking something as mundane as a policy on school fights seems narrow-minded. How about a discussion about teacher/student and administrator/student interaction, or something interesting about social clicks within high school. This is not a rant, and seems like you did a little bit of research, but I'm not sure if it should be on the front page. Thank you for thinking through it though D:

thanks for contributing to the discussion (3.00 / 2) (#50)
by lostincali on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 03:35:30 AM EST

I'm not proclaiming myself to be an elite writer here. You raise some interesting points, and the discussion generated makes alot of these marginal stories worthwhile. Really, this topic leaves me with more questions than answers, and so I wrote it that way. Yes, I realize the conclusion is pretty drab. My aim is to generate some discussion , and see what others think, and go from there. Maybe I'll learn something in the process.

"The least busy day [at McDonalds] is Monday, and then sales increase throughout the week, I guess as enthusiasm for life dwindles."
[ Parent ]

Yeah (2.00 / 2) (#93)
by A Bore on Tue Aug 16, 2005 at 05:26:49 AM EST

I'm not proclaiming myself to be an elite writer here

This is true, because otherwise your username would be "authorlostincali".

[ Parent ]
Thats actually a good idea (3.00 / 4) (#55)
by zorba77 on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 08:53:55 AM EST

I think much of this zero tolerance stuff is simply a way to allow administrative sloth. If the policy punishes both, the Administrator drone needn't be bothered with the details.

I agree with the commenter to stated that bullies seldom care and those who are victims get screwed in the crossfire.

Relevance to bullied victims going postal, you decide.
Return the West Coast to the Tribes of sasquatch!
[ Parent ]

excellent (3.00 / 3) (#65)
by Roman on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 01:10:12 PM EST

tell me where you are at, I'll come by your school and beat the crap out of you, making sure someone sees this. I'll flee of-course, you'll get your 3 days.

[ Parent ]
Zero Tolerance (3.00 / 7) (#82)
by darqchild on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 08:26:09 PM EST

I was beaten helplessly on a daily basis in school. Because I wasn't "cool" enough.  I preferred to keep to myself, and wasn't very social.  

In my 3rd month in that school I was beaten by a gang of 5 guys because i was dressed like a "fag". Upon reporting this to the administration, I was promptly suspended, and told that I would be expelled upon a second offence.

Knowing that I wouldn't fight back, i was a regular target for abuse, violence.  I was subject to being restrained and frisked for money or other valuables by other larger students.  I couldn't carry a wallet.

One day while walking down the hall, another student checked me in to a wall so hard i broke 3 ribs.  A teacher witnessed this, and i was expelled from the school.

Explain to me why this is a good idea.

Death is God's way of telling you not to be such a smartass.
[ Parent ]

Students help getting rid of problem people. (1.50 / 4) (#98)
by artis on Tue Aug 16, 2005 at 12:42:13 PM EST

You were a problem because you bothered administration.
Can you know that you are omniscient?
[ Parent ]
Nobody's going to reply to this, (none / 1) (#99)
by Fon2d2 on Tue Aug 16, 2005 at 02:42:47 PM EST

because they don't really have an answer, do they? We'll spout off our various ideas of why Zero Tolerance is good or bad, but in the end none of us has the real answers for the situations like yours. The problem is far too deep for administrators to really deal with.

It always shocked me how uncaring the staff can be. Some schools can be a really terrible environment, and at least in my opinion, an environment that's not natural.I've always agreed somewhat with this article. Search on 'prison' and read that paragraph.

[ Parent ]

Administration (3.00 / 3) (#110)
by Shajenko on Wed Aug 17, 2005 at 01:55:25 PM EST

The administration itself is obviously complicit in the problem, much like the higher ups in the Catholic Church were complicit in the child abuse within it.

Frankly, I'm hoping somebody gets some evidence on these people and gets them charged with a crime.

[ Parent ]
ok.... (none / 0) (#121)
by Silver6 on Sun Aug 21, 2005 at 12:23:22 AM EST

First of all, I never said that the Zero Tolerance policy is an incredibly great idea, I just said I never had a problem with it, and it exists for a reason. I even had a short paragraph to discuss some problems with it. RTFA.

As for your problem, that obviously sucked getting beaten up. I am sorry. But consider that
1) That is not a proper example of a policy in which both parties are punished
2) Given the situation, even if the other parties were punished, you have a pretty strong case for yourself given that you did not do anything, and should argue or even sue on your own behalf
3) I have a difficult time feeling sorry for you, given that it sounds like you did little more than notify the administration and accept the decision handed down
4) Not all schools, and certainly not my own, have a culture that poor, in which people unable to fight back are taken advantage of
5) Bitterly berating people who are genuinely attempting to contribute to the discussion on a topic without actually reading their comment will not change anything.

[ Parent ]
It was a good idea. (none / 0) (#132)
by Russell Dovey on Thu Sep 01, 2005 at 04:36:53 AM EST

You were expelled from Hell. Obviously the teacher was one of those undercover angels posing as a demon who smuggled souls to Heaven.

Of course, this only applies if your next school was better.

Incidentally, I reccommend that all kids, when bullied, fight back. You know it works. Fuck what the teachers say, you won't care in a few years anyway.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

"getting tough" (none / 0) (#52)
by xmnemonic on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 04:20:56 AM EST

My theory is that people need some violent emotional surrogate to complement their comforts in life, a la "Brave New World" (mostly a shitty book btw).  That's why the war movie fad flared in the 90s then died out after 2001-09-11, and why comic book films are all the rage today.  People want to escape the news of terrorism and of Iraq, to a world where heroes can do everything.  "Getting tough" still lasts today from the 90s, but I see it as a dying fad.

From my experience, ZT a good thing (2.66 / 6) (#54)
by ebeatspi on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 07:55:41 AM EST

Long time lurker, first time poster, but I felt the need to add my two cents.

Some background information first. The schools I went to were in the center of a medium sized midwestern city, so short of driving for a day to end up in Chicago, my schools were in the most ghettoesque neighborhood around. That being said, there was sigificantly less violence or gang activity than in the first ring suburbs that didn't have a zero tolerance policy.

There were two zero tolerance policies in effect, one dealing with gangs and the other with weapons. If you flashed a hand sign, marked, or even talked about gang related activity, you were expelled. Even though it didn't stop gang activity (I still know how to get my hands to spell out "blood"), it took away being able to display gang activity, so any individual act wasn't worth it for those mildy affiliated, and the more hard core people got kicked out fairly quick.

The weapons one was more of an issue, but never contested. If you brought an object to school that was a dedicated weapon, or used an improvised weapon (ie, stabbing with a pencil), you were expelled. There were abuses: a student got into a yelling match with the teacher, chucked an eraser at the chalkboard when it rebounded and hit the teacher. The first year teacher pressed the "an assualt with a weapon" case and got the student expelled. In this case I consider the teacher fully at fault for both getting into a yelling match and having the student expelled. There were also cases where the zero tolerance policy wasn't breached and a kid got expelled under it (in the middle of a fight, kid A shoved kid B's head through a window, later on kid A was able to repeatedly slam the side of kid B's face with the shards in it against a concrete wall, and did so). However, the cases where zero tolerance was abused was a couple of orders of magnitude less than the cases where it allowed administrators to quickly remove a student that would have contuined to cause disruptions.

There were still fights and resulting suspensions, but our per capita rate of serious injury was sigificantly less than schools without a policy. Of course, this was when the first ring suburban districts still had their heads in the sand, pandering to the parents who believed violence was a "thing of the inner city" and more racistly "our district is all white, so we can't have gang problems". Overall, my high school was on average full of people wanting to learn. If you were a violent person, there were more attractive ways to spend your time in school. Then again, you could drop out at 15 without your parent's consent, causing a four year school of 1000 to have 350-400 freshmen. So take this anecdotal evidence from a mostly self selecting pool of students with a grain of salt.

I don't get it (3.00 / 3) (#66)
by genman on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 01:11:43 PM EST

Does not having zero tolerance policy preclude the possibility expelling distruptive and dangerous students? The only explanation would be that the administration would be too cowardly to expell certain students without such a rule. Is the process of justice too ineffective that it must be done away with? I don't think that sets a very good example of fairness.

[ Parent ]
Guilty until proven innocent (2.50 / 2) (#101)
by ebeatspi on Tue Aug 16, 2005 at 03:53:40 PM EST

is sometimes better than innocent until proven innocent in certian situiations.  High schools and junior high schools are one of those situiations.  Students have little rights.  Locker searches are valid under implied consent, as well as any number of other absurd regulations are forced on students.  Why should due process part mimic that of regular citizens, when the other rights of the minors in schools bears little resembleance in any other way?

Onto a particular case, with zero tolerance.  When done by a semiaware administration, zero tolerance gives the ease and power to deal with overly disruptive students.  It is not about being too cowardly to expell a student, but it being possible to expell a student.  Otherwise it is difficult and takes a sigificant period of time.  For the durration, the problem student is still in class.

Being able to argue out of being expelled for having plastic knifes should be the exceptions.  Not having to argue for an expulsion for bring in a butcher's knife.  The administrators that don't allow the plastic knives to slide with suspensions instead of expulsions are stupid, and are probably bad administrators to being with.

[ Parent ]

Then I'd do.... (none / 1) (#114)
by The Amazing Idiot on Thu Aug 18, 2005 at 02:07:01 AM EST

Make gangs with signs they cannot do anything with.

Sign of the Cross, for example. That'd be a fun one to fight out. Have every Christian fight for YOUR RIGHT TO PRAY IN SCHOOL.

Open arms.. Another sign.

Combine those or use body gestures. "Stretching".


[ Parent ]

Zero Tolerance is a JOKE (2.66 / 6) (#56)
by Practicing To Be An Alcoholic on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 09:34:27 AM EST

The ONLY reason why ZT even exists is because the administrations of schools don't want to deal with the real problems existing with today's children, adolescents and teenagers. Especially with those that take great pleasure out of harming others. Rather than discovering why the fight happened and who started it, let's just punish everyone involved, even the victim. It was the same in the 1980's when the ZT Policies started. The principals of schools would rather sweep the matter under the rug and chuck the babies out with the bathtub than to deal with the matter. "Oh you both were fighting? Three day suspension for you and five day in-school suspension for you." "You were found with a pack of cigarettes in your jacket that belongs to your mother? Yeah I believe that, five day expulsion for you!" They would rather sit in their cushy offices with a fresh cup of coffee and the day's paper than to deal with the problems that are going on in their schools. That is why today, so many schools have a dean of students and a discipline office. Often the principal has no clue on what is going on in his own school that he is the head of. He is out of the school property having lunch with the mayor and receiving awards from the Governor for testing scores. He leaves the discipline up to others. Often times, he doesn't even know the names of 98% of the students that attend his school. He knows the 2% that are high honor students, unless there is a repeat offender being taken off campus once or twice a week by the police. I lay ten to one odds that Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris wasn't known by the principal of Columbine High until after their rampage.
Alcohol my permanent accessory
At Columbine Harris and Klebold were... (3.00 / 3) (#95)
by nostalgiphile on Tue Aug 16, 2005 at 07:12:55 AM EST

Quite well known to the teachers and there were clear warning signs that the police were aware of. Actually, they even went so far as to make a short movie (which I would love to get ahold of) showing them gunning down classmates with toy guns. This was submitted to a teacher for a joint project but it was rejected on grounds of its "graphic" nature.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
"Bad Things" are going to get us! (2.85 / 7) (#57)
by mbmccabe on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 10:03:16 AM EST

It appears to be a trend in American culture lately to "get tough" on bad things. I don't know how long this has been going on

This (sometimes referreed to as a culture war) has been going on continuously at least since the U.S. Drug War began during the Nixon years. Maybe the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act is a better time stamp.

Certainly, speaking more generally, using Government as a stick against its own citizenry is not new in any way. Check out any decent People's History (Zinn is the most popular and widely reviewed, AFAIK) texts for prominent historical examples.

Google Searches:
"culture war"
1937 "marijuana tax act"
"people's history"

Parents Are The Problem (2.50 / 10) (#62)
by Jack Johnson on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 12:03:22 PM EST

I used to work for my local public school system in the department of human relations. I started working there straight out of High School and I think it gave me a unique perspective on these things.

I saw the inside of our schools and a student and from above as an employee.

Before anything else, let me say this...

Fights are very, very rarely one-sided affairs.

For every classic "bully" there are thousands of sadistic little boys and girls who are perfectly average in every other way. These kids torment their peers in ways that will hurt a lot more and a lot longer than the black eye they might end up with when someone has had enough.

Right now, the threat of lawsuits and/or harassment from parents has just about anyone in the school system who cares throwing their hands up in frustration.

While kids heal, forgive and forget quickly their parents will gladly drag a scuffle into a 6 month war against the school system and another family over some percieved injustice against their own "angelic" child.

ZT is just a quick, easy, "fair" way to avoid an endless nightmare of he said, she said, lies, threats and retaliation.

Until the average parent is either willing to teach their child respect, courtesy and discipline *or* step back and accept what the school system does in their stead...ZT will continue to be the answer in many cases.

Let 'em fight... (2.80 / 5) (#67)
by haplopeart on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 01:12:30 PM EST

...every adolesant fight I ever had was in school and its a good thing.  If the arena of combat had been more remote, and with out some authority to take control when the beating got bad--I probably would have killed someone and left them for dead.

I do not joke about this when my raging teen hormones, angst, and anger (Much of it very uncontrolled) got going all I could think of was ending the source of irritation.  If that had been permanently it wouldn't have bothered me in the least.  The theat of "I'm going to kill you" in a fight was very very real.

So let them fight in school where at least there is someone to intervene...

Funny story I remember in high school watching a fight in the hall.  One of the Teachers (Male) tried to step in an break it up.  Both of the combatants stopped their own fight, turned beat the crap out of the teacher, then returned to beating the crap out of each other.
Bill "Haplo Peart" Dunn
Administrator Epithna.com

I hope (none / 0) (#102)
by hummassa on Tue Aug 16, 2005 at 04:15:52 PM EST

that both of served jail/reformatory time, and that their parents had being sued to bankruptcy. Any school that allows this to happen without punishment is asking for it to happen again and again.

[ Parent ]
Tossed Out... (none / 0) (#108)
by haplopeart on Wed Aug 17, 2005 at 09:41:49 AM EST

...both of the guys were thrown out of school.
Bill "Haplo Peart" Dunn
Administrator Epithna.com

[ Parent ]
Something I could have covered better (3.00 / 3) (#69)
by lostincali on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 01:22:16 PM EST

I really should have done a better job talking about this "local variability," and discretion. Looking back, the article makes it seem as if these are usually done in favor of harsher ZT, which isn't really the case.

In fact, many educators have been known to tell students that despite the ZT policy, the school will make sure that students are not punished for being victims. In many places these guarantees are lived up to. I could go on with similar cases but I'm not, the point is there--it's likely that many cases of systems working well are overlooked in favor of the loud few where problems arise. So, yes, there's some bias in the article.

Thanks go out to Silver6 below for pointing this out

"The least busy day [at McDonalds] is Monday, and then sales increase throughout the week, I guess as enthusiasm for life dwindles."

Some teachers hate this too. (3.00 / 8) (#71)
by kelbear on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 01:24:46 PM EST

I distinctly remember one of my English teachers commenting on the subject when he heard some students discussing bullying. First off he formally explained the Zero Tolerance policy and the consequences for both parties.

Then, in a rather conspirational whisper, "Don't tell anyone you heard this from me..." he told us that if any bully ever screws with you, take his ass to task over it. It's better than just being bullied.

Of course, this doesn't work for everyone since bullies prefer to do their thing in packs. But I remember that teacher fondly for wanting to teach what he thought would benefit the kids most in life rather than the school's official stance. Regardless of whether or not I think his advice was the best course of action, I admired his desire to on teach the kids a life lesson rather than protecting his ass.
*I am dead, leave a message and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.*

Bullies are by definition cowards. (2.60 / 5) (#74)
by sudog on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 01:46:52 PM EST

Even if they attack in packs, it's irrelevant: if you make it harder to bully you than it is to bully someone else, they'll pick on the easier target until they are eventually expelled for it.

Bullies don't always prefer to do their thing in packs, but consider: they're not always in a pack. If they can only get you while they're in a pack, it's trivial to hunt them down, one by one, and face them when they don't have the reassuring cowardice of their backup to save them if they start losing.

I have the utmost of contempt for those cowards, those weaklings, who gang up on a single target and dishonourably attack him. They deserve absolutely no mercy whatsoever--neither immediately afterwards, nor ever after when retribution eventually comes for them.

The problem with bullying a human is that they have a memory that lasts their entire life. You bully the wrong person, and not only are they going to remember you for as long as they live, but depending on how long they can hold a grudge, they'll stomp you the first chance they get. It's like a circus elephant who whacks an audience member after 40 years of peaceful obedience. The elephant's doing it because it didn't forget that you threw a drink at it when you were 12.

It's just not good sense: why make lifelong enemies? Fate has an interesting habit of levelling the playing field over time.

[ Parent ]

You are a moron (none / 1) (#115)
by codejack on Thu Aug 18, 2005 at 01:42:26 PM EST

Granted that most bullies are stupid (though I have known some exceptions), they tend to be well practised in fighting. If you are like most people, your experience in fighting is pretty slim; Bullies, OTOH, may not fight the toughest people around, but they still have tons more experience than the people around them. Granted that it catches up to them eventually, karma just works, but going out of your way to get back at them is pretty dumb, too.

Please read before posting.

[ Parent ]
Experience (none / 1) (#116)
by Cro Magnon on Thu Aug 18, 2005 at 02:26:39 PM EST

I'd put my fighting experience against that of any bully. In fact, most of my experience was fighting bullies. Most of them were bigger than me, which is why I was a target in the first place, but they weren't really very tough. The REALLY tough kids usually didn't bother shoving geeks around.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Sometimes (none / 1) (#117)
by codejack on Thu Aug 18, 2005 at 04:55:48 PM EST

Sometimes the REALLY tough kids don't bother shoving geeks around, but sometimes the REALLY tough kids are just plain mean, and go after the kids who do fight back specifically; My experience has been that the meek kids get left alone because they're no fun to push around. Cultural difference, maybe?

I'd put my fighting experience against alot of people, and I've taken down a couple of bullies, but I've been taken down a few times, too. Once pretty bad: Broken arm, concussion, cracked ribs, etc, by a bully who left the meek kids alone.

Bear in mind, I am not referring to elementary school bullies, but high school and bar bullies. I would agree that elementary school and even junior high bullies tend towards kids who push around smaller, weaker kids, and follow the old balloon rule (pop them once, and they disappear).

Please read before posting.

[ Parent ]
*That* one.. (none / 1) (#128)
by sudog on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 04:42:38 PM EST

...is the one who gets hunted down and dealt with, and/or thrown in prison for a nice, long stretch. Grievious physical injury is something that only needs to happen once, and then that person is easily removed from the setting and their life is ruined.

[ Parent ]
Wrong. They're cowards.. (none / 0) (#127)
by sudog on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 04:40:49 PM EST

..so it makes no difference whether you can beat them or not. Just hurt them enough that it's painful to bully *YOU* and they'll move on to easier targets.

[ Parent ]
Also, you're the moron :P [n/t] (none / 0) (#129)
by sudog on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 04:43:23 PM EST

[ Parent ]
What about the assholes? (none / 0) (#133)
by emidln on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 11:41:59 PM EST

I've actually known a few people who were simply vindictive assholes. Screw up their curve and they decide to kick your ass. Stand up for someone else and they decide you're a more "fun" target. It eventually stops or lands these people in jail for battery, but they exist. I would not personally want to confront a person who makes it a point to kick your ass because you stood in the way of him kicking someone else's ass, with the other person having a lot more experience fighting than I do.

[ Parent ]
It makes a weird sort of sense. (3.00 / 3) (#94)
by A Bore on Tue Aug 16, 2005 at 05:31:25 AM EST

If you are going to get punished for merely being the subject of bullying, it's best to fight back as much as you can. You aren't going to get any justice by the end of the process, after all. Go for the eyes.

[ Parent ]
This is because they who administrate our schools (1.83 / 6) (#81)
by Sesquipundalian on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 07:18:30 PM EST

want to learn more about how terrorism happens. If school administrators create a scenario where both parties who fight are expelled, then they have created a scenario where in order to hurt someone that you hate, you need to recruit a mindless dupe. It is not enough to simply antagonize your enemy until they hit you first (giving you an excuse to clobber them), now you must find some weak minded schoolmate and get them to attack your enemy without implicating you. You win the game when you can convince one of the retards in special-ed to knife the football captain and say that George Bush told him to do it. I guess the authorities want to learn more about people's instinctive recruiting strategies.

Nice stuff to think about the next time your neighbors kid gets killed in one of these Columbine type shoot-outs. I bet some time soon, we notice that one or two of the columbine survivors is starting a career with the millitary (we can finally put all of that natural "operative handling talent" to good use).

Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
Old K5 Article (2.80 / 5) (#86)
by hardburn on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 11:00:29 PM EST

There's a K5 article from several years ago showing such well-thought-out Zero Tolerance policies like suspending a student for having a butter knife in their car, or for taking a knife away from a friend that was trying to commit suicide.

while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }

You heartless bastard. (3.00 / 3) (#87)
by your_desired_username on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 11:05:02 PM EST

Making us cry over the old k5 that is dead and gone.

[ Parent ]
I Asked Her For Some Happy News (none / 1) (#96)
by hardburn on Tue Aug 16, 2005 at 09:21:38 AM EST

Something touched me deep inside, the day Kuro5hin died.

while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }

[ Parent ]
You sad bastard. (none / 0) (#97)
by For Whom The Bells Troll on Tue Aug 16, 2005 at 12:03:30 PM EST

Wrong choice of words for the subject lie. Clearly, you dont know your K5 history.

The Big F Word.
[ Parent ]
Nah... (none / 0) (#105)
by your_desired_username on Wed Aug 17, 2005 at 12:42:14 AM EST

Go read Crashnbur's article, and the posts below it. This is very different - and some time previous to - the you sad bastard thread.

Besides, although I learned about it the same day I came back to k5, I wasn't here when you USB happened - I stopped reading k5 sometime in 2002, and did not return until 2005. USB happened in 2003, I think. (yes, I'm too lazy to check your link.) To me, the old k5 is 2002 and earlier. And yes, I'm sure there is lots of k5 history I don't know.

[ Parent ]

expelled (3.00 / 4) (#106)
by cgenman on Wed Aug 17, 2005 at 09:18:57 AM EST

I had a friend in high school, a senior, who had a part in a play where he was supposed to whittle.  So, after school hours, he brought in one of his whittling knives from home and a block of wood (his skills were legendary around the otherwise technical high-school) for use in the play.

Unfortunately for him, the school board decided to watch the play that day, and saw a kid onstage whittling a block of wood with a knife.  He was unceremoniously expelled.

Another student was suspended for having a wooden Kendo "sword" (about as sharp and deadly as those big Q-tips the American Gladiators use) which he was taking to class after school.  People have been suspended for having asprin.  A friend was suspended for having a knife hilt with no blade for use in a role playing game.  And don't even think of being part of a renissance fair.  

The ludicrous thing about all of this was everyone knew that there were kids breaking into the science center to steal chemicals to make bombs and drugs.  One of the roughly 10 students in the 5 or so separate groups we knew of eventually blew himself up making a pipe bomb. I knew that not only were drugs on campus, but that some of the students were supplying some of the teachers.  And we had about 2 drive-by shootings a year, though nobody was ever killed.  And the teachers knew all of this too.

And yet the only people who were caught by these zero-tollerance rules were good kids with no mal intent.  And any sort of violence involving knives or whatever would still have brought harsh penalties and criminal sentences anyway, so the rules were completely unnecessary.

All zero-tollerance laws do is pretend that all infractions are identical.  This means that the kid who has a headache and brings asprin to school is treated the same way as the kid who brings 20 tabs of extacy to sell to his friends.  Or the one that brings a swiss army knife to help fix his car after school is as guilty as the kid that brings a machete in case he has to "throw down."  

In any other circumstances, such rules would be considered illegal as they're too broad and frequently disproportionate.  Why are public schools held to different standards?  
- This Sig is a mnemonic device designed to allow you to recognize this author in the future. This is only a device.
[ Parent ]

Can this supercede laws? (none / 0) (#100)
by pornosheep on Tue Aug 16, 2005 at 03:15:13 PM EST

I suppose that the right to defend yourself from an attack is predicted and protected by the law or the constitution. Can school policy overcome this? Why should I surrender my rights to school policy?

I am not a lawyer, but I am curious...

You mean like... (none / 0) (#103)
by brunes69 on Tue Aug 16, 2005 at 08:00:24 PM EST

..the right to be protected against unreasonable search and seizure? (locker searches)

..the right to freedom of speech? (dress codes)

School is like a prison in this regard, you lose a large number of your freedoms by entering its doors.

---There is no Spoon---
[ Parent ]

Training victims (3.00 / 2) (#104)
by CAIMLAS on Tue Aug 16, 2005 at 10:22:03 PM EST

What they're doing is training children to be the next generation: the next generation of better, weaker victims.

It's state-run public education. What does the government have to lose by making their best and brightest "citizens" have a life-long mindset of victimization (either by others or by themselves)?

Absolutely nothing. And they've got everything to gain, as able-bodied people that weren't raised to be victims are more able to live well under their own power.

THe government and those that control it benefit a lot more from a victimized law-abinding populace where everyone is seen as a criminal than they do from a populace divided between self-enabled and self-minded individuals with a subset of criminal element. It makes limiting the number of dissenting minds - and then bringing force against them - all that much easier. Both politically and physically.

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.

My son was the victim of this. (3.00 / 5) (#107)
by Trystan on Wed Aug 17, 2005 at 09:27:41 AM EST

At 7 years old another young man was choking my son in the bathroom.  My son wouldn't fight back because he had been told he would get in as much trouble as the aggressor.

He was purple when a teacher went to investigate why the boys were gone so long.

The bully had been a problem for my son for some weeks.  My son had tried asking a teacher for help several times on the playground, but they had brushed his complaints off as "whining."  

I've told my son that under no circumstances, ever, is he to lie down and let someone hurt him, no matter the circumstances, no matter the rules.  The next time the bully caused him grief, I told him to beat the hell out of the kid - that I would deal with the repercussions of the violence.  (My son is a good 6" taller than most children his age, and a good 10 to 15 lbs heavier.)

When I went in to discuss the issue with the principal I was told the other child was a "known problem" and "couldn't be discussed."  Is our policy to ignore problems now?  We teach to the lowest common denominator in our schools, and now we police our entire school system in that manner?

And yet we wonder why we're not the top country in education and technology?

Needless to say the school administrative staff is familiar with me.  They're also familiar with what will happen if my son is hurt because of their inability to police the other students.  I could've sued them for this one single incident, but chose not to because I feel the policy can be changed by appealing to the logical side of the system rather than the financial side.  (Also, I believe lawsuits are a primary cause of the zero tolerance policies being brought about.)

ack, sounds terrible (none / 0) (#109)
by lostincali on Wed Aug 17, 2005 at 01:52:19 PM EST

It would be nice if there were some perfect solution on the horizon, but I don't see it coming. It's good to see that parents like you are actively addressing the problems. Good luck to you in your dealings with these situations.

"The least busy day [at McDonalds] is Monday, and then sales increase throughout the week, I guess as enthusiasm for life dwindles."
[ Parent ]

Take it away from school. (3.00 / 2) (#118)
by sudogeek on Thu Aug 18, 2005 at 11:25:48 PM EST

Administrators and teachers are ineffectual at dealing with these sorts of problems, zero tolerance or not. You know where the problem boy lives, so stop delaying. If your son (or designate) whips his ass each time he fucks with someone, the behavior will be rapidly extinguished. That is how you deal with bullies.

You're an arrogant, condescending, ignorant dipshit. - trhurler
[ Parent ]

here here (none / 0) (#125)
by kbudha on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 12:02:30 PM EST

One of the most awesome posts I've ever read. Keep up the good work lady. The world needs more parents like you.

[ Parent ]
To those who support Zero Tolerance... (none / 1) (#113)
by kcbrown on Thu Aug 18, 2005 at 12:05:57 AM EST

So, you support Zero Tolerance, do you?

Then I suppose you wouldn't have any problem living in a Zero Tolerance society, either, right?

Better think about what that means before you say you wouldn't have any problems with it:

  1. There would be no justice system as we currently know it. Any crime that occurred would be immediately punished. There would be no trial by jury because there would be no need to consider any evidence.
  2. When a crime occurs, both perpetrator and victim would get equal sentencing.
  3. Sentencing would be severe. Several years prison for the smallest crimes, and life imprisonment for any violent crimes.

So: is that really the society you want to live in? If so, then congratulations: you want to live in a bona-fide police state like Eastern Germany used to be. And to that I have to ask: what the fuck are you doing here in the United States? Move to China, you fascist scumbag!

On the other hand, if that's not the kind of society you want to live in, then why do you wish that society on your kids? Do you hate your kids or something? If so, then perhaps someone should do a "Zero Tolerance" on you and throw your ass in jail, because you're no parent worthy of the title.

But if not, then you're not really in favor of Zero Tolerance, are you? Stop pretending that you are.

are bullies universal? (none / 0) (#120)
by vqp on Sat Aug 20, 2005 at 08:02:00 PM EST

These "packs of bullies" attacking indefense students are common in other countries?. Not in Argentina, at least when I was studying.

happiness = d(Reality - Expectations) / dt

My school days (none / 0) (#134)
by dogeye on Sat Sep 24, 2005 at 09:17:53 AM EST

When I was in K-12, in the U.S., there was tons of verbal harassment of the weaker kids, but I don't remember there ever actually being a physical attack that wasn't blatantly provoked.

[ Parent ]
We need to support educators (1.00 / 3) (#122)
by Social Democrat on Sun Aug 21, 2005 at 02:27:21 PM EST

In reading the comments I have been disturbed by all the attacks on teachers and school administrators.  Here are men and women who have dedicated themselves to serving their communities by giving the gift of knowledge to the next generation.  They have also spent years in study in how to teach and mold boys and girls so that they can become productive members of society.

Instead of assuming that we know it all, we should listen to our educators.  They are trying to teach us.  In this case, its the importance of nonviolence.  The only way we will have a nonviolent world is if we refuse to use violence under any circumstances.  Our educators are trying to show us how to stand up for nonviolence.  That is why it is called zero tolerance as in we will have zero tolerance for violence, any violence whatsoever.

Rather than suing our underpaid educators and underfunded school systems, we should realize that what educators are doing through zero tolerance policies is correct.  If you want to live in a nonviolent world then you will support them.  Otherwise you are supporting conservatives who wish to destroy public education.

The US is fucked up, diseased, mentally unstable & psychologically unhealthy. Its food supply is tainted, polluted, & full of chemical crap. Even worse, the US is trying to ruin the rest of the world.

Your insane! (3.00 / 3) (#126)
by SalsaDoom on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 01:55:00 PM EST

Ok, that is a completely unrealistic utopian viewpoint. This doesn't stand up to any sort of 'reality test'. Humans are creatures built for survival, not for making nice and living peacefully. Creating a society around ideals that humans are incapable of is never going to work.

Our "underpaid... underfunded" educators are teaching the -wrong things- if this is what they are doing. I'm in Canada, for the record, but there are schools here that have had this policy too (no one in Canada cares either, being a bitch is the law here.)

Can you imagine, if you got mugged and beaten in the streets, then the police arrested you and threw you in the slammer for assault? If they catch the guy, he goes in too. Thats your idea of justice? What if the guy was going to knife you? Don't fight back! Let him kill you, or go to prison. The idea is so absurd, yet, this kind of thinking you believe belongs in the schools?

My point is, I suppose, that its impossible to have a society without violence, the best you can do is have a free society, and this kind of random authority is the farthest thing in the world from that.

If you lack the physical prowess to defend yourself -- I can understand that, you want to avoid violence at all costs, but understand also thats impossible. You'd have to get into Brave New World stuff for that to be a reality.

[ Parent ]

"Many schools"? (2.00 / 2) (#123)
by jope on Mon Aug 22, 2005 at 04:44:18 AM EST

I guess you are talking about schools in the US or in certain states of the US. This web page is available worldwide and in no country I know do they have such an idiotic policy. So let's assume the US. Would not surprise me because dumb laws and unintelligent quick reactions to "threats" are commonplace there even if they take basic rights from people. The only difference is that they will throuw anyone who got on some suspected terrorist list into a concentration camp for indefinite time or send him off to a friendly third world dictatorship for torturing. It is just the same kind of idiot thinking that is behind all this ("three strikes and you are out" would be another example).

Easy Ways (none / 1) (#124)
by flyboi4u on Mon Aug 22, 2005 at 02:04:20 PM EST

I think pinning down the one policy specifically, and not as part of an entire system of both public and private (schools and parents) failing their children is too easy. I've seen far too many parents willing to side with their kids, just defending their actions even when they are simply indefensible. I've seen parents threaten administrators. And I think all of us have read about parents suing schools when their kid is bullied. The reality is that the policy is little more than a product of a hyper-litigious society, and parents that think schools should parent their children. While the policy itself is indefensible, attempting to address the problems of the policy without the context in which it was deployed misses the mark. I think the bigger problem, throughout the US, but within the school systems in particular, is the concept that personal responsibility and social responsibility are at odds with one another. This wacked out and imbalanced concept of responsibility ultimately ends up with children either not being educated because a lack of funding resultant from massive lawsuits, or chilren not being educated because all people have the capacity to harm others. That said, a total reversal, and limiting schools liability and social backlash against ZP may result in schools no longer providing an envrionment conducive to education. Ultimately, it is up to the parents and citizenry electing school boards to be less socially bi-polar and reflexive, and be more moderate and measured. Much Love In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards. -Mark Twain

The "Zero Tolerance" Approach to Fighting in Schools | 134 comments (129 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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