Zero Tolerance

The time has come to move onto ‘the family’ and I could not think of a better place to start than with my youngest son. I have also put a separate page on the right sidebar called “About He Went That Way”, on that page are a couple of pieces that give a little more information to any reader that finds themselves confused about who’s who and what’s what. It may help or it may make it worse.

May 2012

zero0001       The school districts in Canada, have for the most part adopted a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy when it comes to disciplining students. With corporal punishment being abolished in schools, no ruler whacking or principal’s belt smacking allowed anymore, schools have resorted to just sending the student home. The ‘zero-tolerance’ policy has guidelines that tell a school administrator that if a student does this…they get that. There are no longer any grey areas when it comes to what a school will do if there is an infraction. They no longer judge an incident based on severity, a shoving incident is the same as a fist fight; both would fall in the same category and therefore receive the same penalty. I’m sure there is a list somewhere that says what the penalty for every infraction is and I assume there is still detention for being disruptive in class and suspensions for more severe infractions. I do know what two of them are though. Its two days for inappropriate gestures and three days for bringing porn to school. That’s right MOM… I said PORN!!


Nephew ‘Suspended’ received two days for an inappropriate ‘hand’ gesture aimed at the back of a teacher that was immediately reported by another student. ‘Zero-tolerance’… two days! The two days started immediately so he actually only served a day and a half, since he was sent home at noon. Of course that was three weeks ago and ‘Suspended’ figures that its water under the bridge and the whole thing is over. NEWS FLASH!! Your father gets home in three days and the whole thing is about to rear its ugly head again!!! Aside from the suspension, ‘Suspended’ received a ‘stern talking to’ from the principal and my wife and I, but as we all can attest to, nothing is the same as the ‘stern talking to’ that you get from your father. So although ‘Suspended’ may think that it’s over and done with… I beg to differ.


I learned that the ‘zero-tolerance’ penalty for bringing inappropriate materials to school was three days compliments of my then thirteen year-old son. That’s right mom, your grandson! I received a call requesting my presence at the Principal’s office. The Principal’s office!! I’m being called to the Principal’s office?? What am I in grade eight?!!!


It is never fun being summoned to the principal’s office. At least as a student, I always knew why I was headed there and it was never to get a reward for good behavior. As an adult, when you get the summons to appear, it’s downright un-nerving! Since they don’t wish to talk about it over the phone, I have no clue why I’m being called to the office! When I arrive, there is my youngest son sitting in a chair outside the office, head down… he already knows what’s coming!! Of course he does!!! He committed the crime!!! I’m the only one in the building that is in the dark, and before I can ask my son what is going on, the principal pops out of his office door, “Good you’re here. Come in, the teacher will be joining us shortly.” I’m getting the teacher too!?! As I step into his office I see the school guidance councillor is already seated. What the hell has this kid done?!! I’m getting the full court press!!


As we sit waiting for the teacher to arrive we chat about the weather and other mundane nonsense until finally the Principal looks at the clock and states, “Well I guess we can get started, I don’t think there is much Mr. blah-blah can add since we have a zero-tolerance policy for this.” He holds up two floppy disks, “Your son brought this to school today… its pornography.” Okay… this is awkward. I was then told that he tried to open the files on the disk on the school computer to show his friends, fortunately the school computer was unable to open whatever format the images were saved in, so the only thing visible were the title of the images, but it was enough to put me in the Principal’s office.


“Sorry,” he shrugs and gives me a humorous grin that makes me think he’s had this conversation with other parents, “but we have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to this type of behavior, your son is suspended for three days.” He hands me the disks and the meeting is adjourned. I retrieve the ‘Bull’ the porn king from the hallway and head for home.


I send Bull to his room when we arrive home and tell him I’ll deal with him shortly. I take the disks to the computer, at this point I have no idea what I’m dealing with yet. I turn on the computer and insert the disk, and before me appear a half dozen file folders with their titles and OMG!!! The file title is enough to make me blush and I don’t blush easy!! They say the images involve celebrities and acts with the household pets!!! What the hell is this kid looking at??? I’m lucky he can go back to school at all!!! I know I never will! I may never my able to show my face in town again!! This is a small town and news travels fast. By the time dinner time is over, every kid will have told their parents the story of Bull the porn king being suspended. I open the file…


Times may have changed since I was a kid, but puberty is still puberty; instead of the advertised image, before me is the picture of a woman posing for the camera. Yes she has no clothes on, but there is no celebrity and ‘Rover’ is nowhere to be seen! I’m looking at a Playboy centerfold from the nineteen seventies!! I check the other files and the second disk and they are all the same!!! Miss January through Miss December! My sense of relief is only temporary though, I remember that they never saw the pictures at the school, they just saw the title!!! I felt that I should call the school and explain that it wasn’t as bad as it appeared and you don’t need to shun me on the street but since I now live in the ‘zero-tolerance’ time, an explanation would just be met with a shrug.


Bull had three days to discuss the many facets of his indiscretion. There was the updated ‘birds and the bees’ talk and the ‘moral’ issue talk and my wife gave him a ‘talk’ from the feminine stand point. Passwords were changed and access to the internet was suspended. To his credit, he sucked it up and did his time. At the end of his suspension he went back to school and over time the matter was dropped but as you can see… not forgotten.


‘Zero-tolerance’ in schools is not a bad thing; it is there to keep our children safe. A suspension for an infraction of the school’s ‘code of conduct’ puts the matter into the hands of the people that should be dealing with it… the parents. ‘Zero-tolerance’ makes the parent part of the process and that, from my point of view, is a good thing. As parents our involvement in guiding our children’s path is imperative and it should not take a ‘zero-tolerance’ action to get us involved, it is not the school’s responsibility to raise our children. The ‘moral’ compass is created in the home first and understanding what is acceptable behavior outside the home, is the parent’s responsibility to teach. The schools all have a ‘code of conduct’ that they give to every student at the beginning of the school year and it’s the parent’s job to be sure that their child understands what is expected of them when they are at school. zero0007As parents we can’t do everything and cover every base, we’re busy making sure there is food and shelter and that homework gets done, so sometimes it takes a ‘zero-tolerance’ infraction to get us to focus on a specific matter that should be dealt with more thoroughly.


The ‘Zero-tolerance’ policy, teaches our children that there will be repercussions for breaking the rules and their parents will be involved and that can be better than any corporal punishment. Having me natter at them for days on end taught both the teenagers something, Bull learned that you don’t take naked pictures to school and why, and Suspended has learned to keep his hands in his pocket. They both learned that they are responsible for their actions and that there will be repercussions.


Oh shit… I better go tell Suspended not to move his hands around too much in his pockets… that could get him three more ‘zero-tolerance’ days!!!