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by Zoey Jones

Bullying is a huge issue in almost every school, town and city. It's not a new problem. Bullying has been around for as long as there have been people. The difference is that now more and more kids are being seriously injured or killed, or they're choosing to take their own life because of bullying. So, what are schools doing to stop this problem? One method that is being tested in many Elementary, Middle and High schools is the Zero Tolerance Policy. What is Zero Tolerance and how does it work?

Zero Tolerance is pretty much like it says: It's a policy in that punishes any sort of negative physical or verbal contact. Every Zero Tolerance policy has it's own set of rules, guidelines and consequences, but the basic message is the same - hands off at all times! This usually means no hitting, no pushing, no tripping, no throwing, no spitting and it also observes verbal abuse - no yelling, no swearing or no insults directed at another person. Each policy has its own set of rules, but most usually have a series of stages to work through - kind of like the ‘three strikes and you're out' idea. In other cases, one violation will lead to instant expulsion.

The enforcement of policies varies greatly. In one case, an elementary school enforced the Zero Tolerance policy so strictly that Kindergarten to Grade 3 students were being sent home or suspended for playing tag on the playground. Then, there are other cases, where middle years students have been suspended or expelled for harassing fellow students with physical jabs and verbal attacks, which seems appropriate. As you can see, the enforcement of these policies can be quite uneven.

In my opinion, Zero Tolerance is a good idea - in theory. However, like anything, there are problems. It's important to ensure that bullying behaviour is being punished. So, until schools find a better solution, it might be the best option available to protect students while they're in school. Buy when they leave school property, who will be watching and taking notes then?

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