Discipline in Schools

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. 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. This contributes to the inequitable school-to-prison pipeline and increased drop-out rates, which negatively impact health outcomes. The AAFP encourages the academic community to continue to investigate alternative, evidence-based methods of discipline in schools. The AAFP encourages its members to advocate for disciplinary procedures that focus on the prevention of violating school rules and are alternatives to zero-tolerance policies. (2017 December BOD)