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Zero Tolerance Policy Means Handcuffs for 12 Year Old Who Wrote on Her Desk

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on February 22, 2010 3:15 PM

The girls are going wild in middle school these days. 

Don't fear -- school authorities are on top of it, with their zero tolerance policies. They are cracking down on troublemakers and making sure that these mischief-makers are apprehended.

Yes, they certainly showed that to Alexa Gonzalez, slapping handcuffs on her and hauling her away to the precinct. Let's see if that twelve-year-old ever scrawls "I love my friends Abby and Faith" on her desk again!  The school's resolve was firm on this wild-child, as they cuffed her hands behind her back in front of her classmates and had the police haul her away, with tears streaming down her innocent, twelve-year-old face.

But Alexa isn't the only New York child reduced to tears by the implementation of these zero-tolerance policies. Little Patrick Timoney, a nine year old, was nearly suspended for bringing a two-inch Lego gun to school. 

One Los Angeles school has a zero-tolerance policy on absenteeism. It sends the children to juvenile traffic court after five tardiness tickets. That'll certainly keep those hooligans off the streets!

Or, it might just get them on the streets. It may just deter them from school altogether. 

Proponents of these rigid rules argue that kids need discipline. 

Sure they do. But is it fair to subject them to such harsh consequences? You see, the problem isn't the "zero-tolerance" policy, necessarily. It's the implementation of it. In the wake of these arrests across the nation, many students are fighting back, with lawyers in tow. They are claiming unlawful search and seizure. 

The implementation of these policies can be harsh, and often carried out by inadequately trained officers. New York City places the school security officers under the NYPD. But some would argue they lack proper training in dealing with the issue of enforcing school discipline on children. As a result, the city of New York could be setting itself up for some heavy liability. 

Indeed, is placing Paul Blart the Mall Cop in charge of administering child discipline really the smartest way to go for the public school districts? 

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