Detrimental Effects Of Zero Tolerance Policies On Childhood DevelopmentPresentation Transcript
Detrimental Effects of Zero-Tolerance Policies on Childhood Development Advanced General Psychology PSY492 XB Instructor: Mary Viventi Lorie Reed April 20, 2010
Numerous Arguments Against Aero-Tolerance Policies
What are Zero Tolerance Policies? Zero-tolerance policies are disciplinary policies implemented by schools which originally were intended to address serious offenses such as possession of firearms. Stephanie Martinez (2009) explains how although these policies have been in effect for over 16 years now there is little supporting evidence that the policies are effective in curbing violence in schools (p. 154). Martinez (2009) goes on to explain the only data available on the effectiveness of zero-tolerance policies is the rise of suspensions in our schools; “in 1974, 1.7 million students were suspended from school, by 1998, the number of suspended students increased to 3.1 million” (p. 154).
American Psychological Association Task Force Findings Due to growing controversy surrounding zero-tolerance policies, the American Psychological Association (APA) (2008) released a task force report on their findings of zero-tolerance effectiveness. Two main points the APA reported are; “schools with higher rates of school suspension and expulsion appear to have less satisfactory ratings of school climate..., and school suspension in general appears to predict higher future rates of misbehavior and suspension among those students who are suspended” (p. 854). According to the APA findings, not only is zero-tolerance not effective in curbing misbehavior in our schools but it could actually cause misbehavior to rise.
Society’s Response to Deviant Labels The social reaction theory helps explain how the deviant label society puts on children who are suspended or expelled detrimentally effects their psychological and social development (Angela Winfield 2008). Winfield (2008) explains how society views deviant behavior as “dramatization of evil,” and when a child is separated from his/her peers for individual treatment, the child may experience mortification because of how he/she perceives his/her peers will react (Winfield, 2008). Winfield (2008) goes on to explain how society does not separate individuals from their acts; “it is not that an individual committed a bad act—but that the individual is, in fact, a bad individual” (Winfield, 2008). These types of stigmatizations produce negative self-images which causes individuals to have low self-concepts and low self-esteems.
Psychological Effects of Deviant Labels The APA (2008) questions the appropriateness of zero-tolerance policies because of four psychosocial behaviors which appear during adolescent development; poor resistance to peer influence, attitudes toward and perception of risk, future orientation, and impulse control. There can be no doubt that many incidents that result in disciplinary infractions at the secondary level are due to poor judgment on the part of the adolescent involved. But if that judgment is the result of developmental or neurological immaturity, and if the resulting behavior does not pose a threat to safety, weighing the importance of a particular consequence against the long-term negative consequences of zero tolerance policies must be viewed as a complex decision, especially since adolescents appear to be more developmentally susceptible to such lapses in judgment (APA, 2008).
Psychological Effects of Deviant Labels (Cont.) The APA (2008) agrees while there has not been much research on the negative effects of zero-tolerance policies, there is concern these polices may “create, enhance, or accelerate negative mental health outcomes for youth by creating increases in student alienation, anxiety, rejection, and breaking of healthy adult bonds” (APA, 2008).
Future Studies Due to these five prevailing arguments, we have to ask ourselves; have we traded our children’s normal developmental process for the illusion of safety in our schools? Future research on zero-tolerance policies needs to focus on how elementary children’s normal age-related behaviors are obstructed by zero-tolerance policies in our schools and how this effect carries over into adult behavior later in life.
Conclusion Not only are adolescents the targets of zero-tolerance policies, these policies are affecting children as young as pre-school and kindergarten. More research needs to address the detrimental effects of these policies before more children are psychologically harmed.
References American Psychological Association (2008). Are zero tolerance policies effective in the schools? An evidentiary review and recommendations. The American Psychologist (Vol. 63). (p. 852-856) Martinez, S. (2009). A system gone berserk: How are zero-tolerance policies really affecting schools? Preventing School Failure. (Vol. 53) (p. 153-158) Windfield, A. (2008). Creating deviants: The stigmatization of students expelled through zero tolerance policies. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. 3337315