USA Today (2/25, Toppo) reports the American Academy of Pediatrics said in a policy statement that automatically suspending or expelling students who disrupt classes is an "increasingly questionable" response and the "so-called zero-tolerance" policies represent a "drastic" response. The AAP "criticizes zero-tolerance suspensions and expulsions that were originally intended to keep guns and drugs out of schools but now are applied more broadly in many cases, such as when students bring toy guns or headache medicine to school." The statement, which appears in the online version of the journal Pediatrics, claims that removing a student from school is "increasingly ineffective because more students arrive at school from homes in which no parent is home during the school day."
Reuters (2/26, Seaman) reports the AAP statement also notes the link between out-of-school suspension and expulsion and students who are involved in the juvenile justice system. The group says that students who are removed from school may stay at home without any parental oversight and may engage in other delinquent behavior. The pediatricians recommend early interventions of troubled children in preschool and introducing school-wide Positive Behavior Intervention and Support programs.
HealthDay (2/26, Norton) quotes lead author Dr. Jeffery Lamont, a pediatrician at Wisconsin's Marshfield Clinic: "There's a tremendous price to pay not just for the kid involved, but for society." Lamont also noted that a 2006 study by the American Psychological Association "found after a decade of research that there was no evidence that zero-tolerance policies had made schools any safer or helped kids' school performances. But there was evidence, the task force found, that the policies were disproportionately targeting black and Hispanic kids."