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The Messy Nature of Discipline and Zero Tolerance Policies: Negotiating Safe School Environments among Inconsistencies, Structural Constraints and the Complex Lives of Youth

Sociological Studies of Children and Youth

ISBN: 978-0-76231-256-6, eISBN: 978-1-84950-376-1

ISSN: 1537-4661

Publication date: 27 October 2005

Abstract

I began my research at two suburban high schools in the spring of 2000, shortly after the one-year “anniversary” of the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colorado. On April 20, 1999, Dylan Kelbold and Eric Harris entered their school and killed 10 classmates and 1 teacher, wounded 23 others, and then took their own lives in the library. It was the worst mass murder ever to take place on school grounds in the United States. I was particularly interested in looking at suburban schools during this time period because statistics showed juvenile crime, and in particular violence within the school systems, was on the decline, yet the perception of school violence seemed unrelated to these statistics (Brooks, Schiraldi, & Ziegenberg, 2000; Cook, 2000; Glassner, 1999). Following the widespread national attention given to the Columbine shootings,1 public polls showed 71% of Americans believed a school shooting was likely to happen in their community (Brooks et al., 2000). A month after the Columbine shootings, a Gallup Poll found 52% of parents still feared for their children's safety at school (Brooks et al., 2000). I was interested in learning how this perception of violence and fear shaped the everyday lives of kids going to schools throughout the United States. I wanted to know how schools dealt with issues of violence and safety at the local level, and in particular, how discipline and punishment was thought about, practiced, and negotiated within public-school settings.

Citation

Waldron, L.M. (2005), "The Messy Nature of Discipline and Zero Tolerance Policies: Negotiating Safe School Environments among Inconsistencies, Structural Constraints and the Complex Lives of Youth", Kinney, D.A. and Brown Rosier, K. (Ed.) Sociological Studies of Children and Youth (Sociological Studies of Children and Youth, Vol. 11), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 81-114. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1537-4661(05)11004-6

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited