The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) does not support zero-tolerance policies for violation of school rules in primary and secondary schools. Zero-tolerance policies require the same, predetermined punishment, regardless of the severity or circumstances surrounding the incident or violation of school rules. Suspension, expulsion, arrest, and referral to juvenile or adult criminal court are common forms of zero-tolerance policy punishment.
Education is a social determinant of health. Evidence shows that gender and racial disparities exist in the use of this disciplinary method, leading to increased suspensions, expulsions, arrests, and criminal court cases among marginalized populations. By advocating for alternatives to zero-tolerance policies, AAFP members contribute to breaking the inequitable school-to-prison pipeline, which is a structural determinant of health. The AAFP encourages the academic community to continue to investigate alternative, evidence-based methods of discipline in schools. (2017 December BOD) (October 2023 COD)