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Proposal: The Zero Tolerance Policy is Ineffective When It Comes to Bullying

The zero tolerance policy has been put into place in hopes to hold everyone accountable for their actions, especially when dealing with bullying. Although, it has been shown that this is doing the complete opposite. Studies have repeatedly shown that an effective way to deal with a bully is to stand up against them; but, in the educational system, standing up for yourself means both you and the bully are being punished equally for very unequal actions. This not only discourages victims from speaking up and taking action, but it also encourages the bully to continue his/her actions.

The Issue

Problem Defined

According to ABC News, nearly 160,000 students stay home from school daily in the fear of being bullied. Education systems have created an environment of the "zero-tolerance policy," which holds bullies less accountable, and those who stand up for themselves more accountable. Someone being tortured in a place where they are supposed to be safe should not get the same punishment as the person doing the torturing when they speak up against the bully. By discarding this policy, we are able to show bullies that their actions are not okay, and not tolerated. Studies have shown standing up against the bully discourages their actions, the disregard of this policy will do the same thing.

Expand all bullets
The zero-tolerance policyMORE

This policy has been put into place in order to discontinue bullying, but it has completely backfired. The discontinuation of this policy will lead to a decrease in bullying, as this will make

Stand up for yourselfMORE

In today's society, in which revolves around technology, it is common that we see someone being bullied and tend to pull out a phone and record it. If society would come together and stand up for one another, rather than ignoring bullying or laughing at it, the bullies behaviors and actions will be discouraged. 

Be there for those who are victimsMORE

Offer your care, offer your support, and offer kindness. Talk to those who are victims and let them know they are not alone. Simply by communicating with victims and being there for them, you can avoid a very unwanted outcome. 

Set boundaries against disrespectful behaviorMORE

Remind children and teens that your values are to have a welcoming and safe environment for everyone – and that being cruel or hurtful is wrong whether it happens in person, via social media, by texting, online or in any other way. Set a good example by being thoughtful about what you say and do. Let people know that certain actions and behaviors will not be tolerated. 

Be persistent in getting help MORE

Children and teens who are being bullied need to be able to tell teachers, parents, and other adults in charge what is happening in the moment clearly and calmly and persistently even if these adults are very distracted or rude – and even if asking for help has not worked before. Letting someone know what is happening will deter repeated bullying. 

Alternatives to Zero Tolerance Policies

National Education Association -


The zero tolerance policy has been shown time and time again to fail at its efforts to reduce bullying and keep children safe. The article above gives alternative ideas to implement what the zero tolerance policy was originally supposed to.

Go deeper
How to prevent bullying

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - (September 8, 2017)


This organization is aimed the prevention of bullying - this specific article gives tips and ideas on how to stop bullying, as well as be there for those who are victims.

Holding Parents Responsible for Their Child’s Bullying

Patchin, Justin W. - (June 17, 2013)


Without a doubt, parents have a duty to do their part to ensure that their kids do not bully others. Although, this is clearly not happening. When a young child is repeatedly showing violent behaviors against others, the child and parent both need to show responsibility for these actions. 


This proposal/organization is striving towards a goal in which ultimately will discard the "zero-tolerance bullying policy" and hold bullies accountable for their actions. We as a society must hold people accountable for their actions, and allow people to stand up for themselves without the worry of punishment. 

Alexis Mallow
Anti-bullying - stopbullying.gov
Madison Phillips
Anti-bullying - stopbullying.gov

The Solution

Proposed Actions
Expand all bullets
Get rid of the zero-tolerance policyMORE

Schools should not encourage violence by any means, but when it is necessary to discontinue the bullying/torture of a student, the two students should not receive the same punishment. The zero-tolerance policy is holding everyone equally accountable for their actions, which has repeatedly shown that the bullies actions continue. By getting rid of this policy, we are able to punish everyone based on their actions, depending on the severity of what they have done, rather than giving people unfair treatment. Standing up for yourself should not be discouraged.

Stand up for victimsMORE

It is very often that society sees people being bullied. Rather than helping, they pull out a phone and record it, laugh at it, or simply ignore it. By standing up and speaking against it, we can all show the bully that their actions are not tolerated. When these actions are fought against, they will discontinue themselves.

Give significant punishmentsMORE

If the zero-tolerance policy were to be ended or re-worded in a sense that will hold people accountable, and allow for victims to stand up for themselves, the bullying rate will decrease. Without giving fair and reasonable punishments to those who are making schools unsafe for some, these despicable actions will continue.

Create organizations and help othersMORE

The creation of organizations and groups that come together to stand up for those who are bullied, and put in place policies that favor giving the bully a fair punishment, will decrease this issue that effects so many young children today - especially in a place where these children are supposed to feel safe.

Educate othersMORE

This policy was put into place for efforts to decrease bullying rates, but it has been shown to do the opposite. This policy is discouraging standing up for yourself - and instead, tell an adult. Factually, telling an adult helps, but it does not discourage the bullies behavior. By giving real consequences, the bullies will stop. The education and spread of this philosophy will help the school system realize that something more needs to be done.

Expected Results
Expand all bullets
Bullying Will DecreaseMORE

No matter what, bullying will never completely end. Although, by changing certain policies, being there for victims, and standing up against the bully, we are able to severely decrease the occurrence of bullying - as well as save lives.

Suicide Rates Will DecreaseMORE

Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for individuals 15-24 years of age.

With suicide and bullying correlating efficiently, decreasing bullying will ultimately lead to a decrease in the suicide rate.

Children Will Adapt A Sense of ResponsibiliyMORE

Within the zero-tolerance policies lies a philosophy that revolves around the thought of "no child being left behind." By ending this policy, and giving significant punishment related to what the child has done, the child will learn to take responsibility for his/her own actions - as well as deter their future violent behaviors.

This budget will include the costs of fundraising, the spread of this idea, creating campaigns and organizations, as well as the creation of fliers and/or brochures. While ending the policy has no cost and many amazing outcomes, the process of educating people on the idea of this philosophy will come at a small cost. 

The Conversation

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