WASHINGTON (AP) - Zero-tolerance policies are ineffective in combating bullying, an independent government advisory group says in urging schools to take a more preventative approach that includes teaching tolerance to address this “serious public health problem.”
In a report released Tuesday, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine said bullying should no longer be dismissed as merely a matter of kids being kids. “Its prevalence perpetuates its normalization. But bullying is not a normal part of childhood,” the report said.
Schools, the researchers concluded, should end zero-tolerance policies that automatically suspend students for bullying.
“There’s no evidence that they are impactful in a positive way,” said Catherine Bradshaw, a professor and associate dean at the University of Virginia, and part of the committee that wrote the report. “They can actually do more harm than good and in fact don’t provide the skill training or replacement behaviors for youth that are suspended or expelled.”
The report also said zero-tolerance policies may lead to an underreporting of bullying because suspensions are perceived as too punitive.