Researchers: Stop Zero-Tolerance Bullying Policies

A recent report outlined the failure of zero tolerance bullying policies to improve student safety.

Adopting zero-tolerance policies to combat bullying in schools has “not had an impact in keeping schools safer” an expert report filed May 10 states.

The report’s authors suggested adopting a national definition of bullying and promoting positive school environments with programs aimed toward students at the greatest risk of being involved in bullying, according to NBC News.

“Some widely used approaches such as zero tolerance policies are not effective at reducing bullying and thus should be discontinued, with the resources redirected to evidence-based policies and programs,” the report states.

The report also points to evidence that zero tolerance policies can have adverse effects by deterring reporting due to fear of overly harsh punishment.

RELATED: How to Tackle Cyberbullies

The experts were commissioned to publish the report by the National Academy of Sciences. The academy is a scientific policy advisory panel for the federal government.

The report characterized physical bullying and cyber bullying as public health problems that need to be further studied to determine their prevalence.

Based on the data available, the report concluded that bullying affects between 18 and 31 percent of children, with cyber victimization accounting for up to 15 percent of that total. Those estimates are higher for subgroups such as LGBT students and students with disabilities.

The researchers hesitated to definitively link school shootings and teen suicide to bullying.

“It is a factor, and perhaps an important one, but it does not appear to be the main influencing factor in a decision to carry out these violent acts,” the report reads.

The researchers also found that bullying laws were unequally applied to blacks, Hispanics and other students of color.

Each state has its own bullying laws, which vary widely.

Read Next: 1 in 3 U.S. Hindu Students Bullied for Their Religious Beliefs

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