Zero Tolerance

by todaystrainingblog

January 11, 2013


One of my biggest bug-a-boo’s in the world today. To anyone you talk to a zero tolerance policy is a good thing to have, whether it be in a school or the workplace. There are innumerable people out there, ‘experts’, who will tell you that you absolutely positively have to have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to…everything!

But is that true? Of course not. How can it be true? Having a zero tolerance policy and following through with it can lead to embarrassment and possibly violent incident, something it was meant to avoid!

Late last year in Mesa Arizona the principal of Mesa High School was ridiculed and threatened with being fired for not following school district policy on zero tolerance. 2 of his students got into a fight on campus.

Instead of calling their parents and suspending them for 2 or 3 days he made a choice. He made the 2 young teens hold hands and become friends for an hour around the school. This went strictly against school district policy. Did it work? Yes it did, the boys, their parents, & the entire school praised this principal for what he did.

The same thing would go for a zero tolerance policy in the workplace. If an employee wanders by and picks up a partial conversation from others about shooting up or shooting up the place, they should turn it in. But should the employee who spoke it be suspended or terminated for making those statements? By most policies they should be. But what’s the context of what they were saying and what were they talking about?

A zero tolerance policy, by necessity, has to be tempered with common sense. And in 99% of all cases it isn’t done. As in the 6 year old in Maryland who was suspended for several days and would have a record following him around for another 12 years if this had been the case!

This poor kid, playing around, pointed his finger at another child and stated ‘I’m gonna shoot you’. For that the school’s policy was to suspend him for a week. Was that necessary? By a long shot NO!

When I was a kid, a very long time ago I’ll admit, we ran around and played all sorts of violent games on the playground during recess, before and after school. Cowboys and Indians, Army, spacemen and aliens, whatever.

Whatever the game we went around shooting and killing each other! And now kids can’t play games like that. Nor can they play a multitude of other games that I played that now have a bad connotation to them, but was fairly innocuous – smear the queer, dodge ball, and etc.

You would think with the number of doctorates and MBA’s running around in both our schools and businesses that we could be a tad more tolerant of what is happening. You would think that we could be a little more discerning in doling out punishment for a perceived wrong. But no we can’t. And why? Let me tell you.

We are so scared of being sued by little Johnny’s parents or Susie’s husband because we have a ‘hostile work environment’. We don’t want to take the time to try and look at these things without passing summary judgment. And too many times, that can cause a school or business to lose more money and have more embarrassment than the initial incident!

We all need to be paranoid about such things because of the world we live in. And we have to ensure that the policy, if it is flexible, isn’t handed out in a unequal fashion. As I stated above, a zero tolerance policy has to have the one thing that 99% of them don’t – common sense.

Our common sense, along with morals, strict standards on many things, higher grades, and the like, have gone the way of the Dodo bird! With the rise of liberalism in our society we have a tightening on things that shouldn’t be tightened down on i.e. free expression. And many times zero tolerance steps on the 1st Amendment.

Again, I’ll say it again, we need to paranoid. We need to look into and investigate these things. But should we automatically pass summary judgment and suspend or terminate either a student or employee for these things? No. We need to have the good judgment, common sense, and time to properly look at these before just passing the buck and blaming the ‘the policy’.