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Zero Tolerance Policy in Schools: Rationale, Consequences, and Alternatives


by Ronnie Casella — 2003

This article discusses theory and related policies that support zero tolerance policy in schools, including rational choice theory in criminology and national crime policies based on deterrence. Potential consequences of zero tolerance policy implementation in schools are also described. These consequences are shown to involve outcomes similar to those identified by researchers who have studied national crime policy, especially in relation to incarceration. Drawing from the qualitative data, anecdotal evidence, and related research, the article concludes with suggestions for violence prevention based on a model of restorative justice, including a practical agenda for what schools may do to prevent violence and to discipline students who act aggressively.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 105 Number 5, 2003, p. 872-892
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11139, Date Accessed: 5/26/2017 8:35:48 PM

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About the Author
  • Ronnie Casella
    Central Connecticut State University
    E-mail Author
    RONNIE CASELLA is assistant professor of educational foundations and secondary education at Central Connecticut State University. His research focuses on education and social welfare policy, youth violence, and public uses of security technology. He is the author of "Being Down’’: Challenging Violence in Urban Schools and At Zero Tolerance: Punishment, Prevention, and School Violence.
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