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Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right: Why Zero Tolerance is Not the Solution to Bullying

Resource type: Research Report

The Advancement Project, Alliance for Educational Justice and Gay-Straight Alliance Network |

Bullying. We’ve all been there. At one point or another. And it hurt. A lot.

Think back to when you were in grade school the bullies you met on the playground, or in high school in the cafeteria at lunch time. They were there then, and unfortunately, they are there now.

But why? Hasn’t the bully problem been taken care of through zero-tolerance policies?

The answer is no. Nothing is that simple. Removing one bully now and sending them to jail or expelling them does not remove any future bullies or address the real problem at hand. In fact, many students are held back from their full potential, not only as students, but as individuals, because of zero-tolerance policies. This track is often referred to as the School-to-Prison Pipeline*. Children are not disposable objects, yet often times school treat them like they are.

Published by Advancement Project, the Alliance for Education Justice and the Gay Straight Alliance Network, Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right: Why Zero Tolerance is Not the Solution to Bullying focuses on the failure of zero-tolerance disciplinary measures to address the root causes of bullying or end the cycle of bullying by teaching appropriate behavior.

The authors urge schools and policymakers to stop criminalizing youth misbehavior and instead focus on making schools safe environments for all students by implementing alternatives to harsh discipline, such as using a restorative justice approach, training teachers, administrators and security offices, and investing more in guidance counselors and school psychologists.

From the Just and Fair Schools Fund Newsletter, July 2012.

Related Resources


Children & Youth, School Discipline Reform

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United States