A new policy brief from The Center on Youth Justice at the Vera Institute of Justice, A Generation Later: What We’ve Learned about Zero Tolerance in Schools, reveals that zero tolerance discipline policies do not make schools more orderly or safe.
In addition Vera outlines a brief history of juvenile crime, which helps explain the policy climate:
Although the juvenile crime rate peaked in 1994 and declined steadily over the next decade, the idea that young people should be feared stuck. In 1996, political scientist John DiIulio predicted a coming wave of young “super-predators.” Following the massacre in 1999 at Columbine High School, people across the country worried that the next devastating school shooting would occur in their town. This is the climate in which zero tolerance policies proliferated and also expanded to encompass a wide range of misconduct much less harmful than bringing a weapon to school.
Learn about the negative effects of pushing students out of school and read about alternatives to zero tolerance in the full report.
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation recently announced the launch of the new Models for Change Resource Center Partnership. The four Resource Centers in the Partnership will be available to help provide prosecutors, defenders, judges, policymakers, advocates, probation officers, and mental health and social service agencies with much needed technical assistance, trainings, tools, and resources to help advance juvenile justice reform across the country.
The Partnership presents an exciting opportunity for many of us in the juvenile justice movement to build on this work and be a part of a positive wave of change for kids, their families, and their communities.
Expert staff is on hand at each of the Resource Centers to provide tools, training, and technical assistance in focus on areas critical to such progress. These areas, and the relevant Resource Center, are:
- The Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Collaborative for Change: A Training, Technical Assistance and Education Center, focusing on response to mental health needs;
- The National Juvenile Defender Center, focusing on stronger legal defense for indigent youth;
- The Status Offense Reform Center, focusing on interventions for youth charged with status offenses (activities that are criminalized for those under 18, e.g., truancy, running away, curfew violations); and,
- The Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice, focusing on coordination of practices and policies for youth involved in both the juvenile justice and child welfare systems, and enhancement of probation system practices.