School Discipline and the Criminalization of Youth

Caitlin Lashier and Meagan Pike

School-to-Prison Pipeline

"The criminalization of student discipline feeds a school-to-prison pipeline. APA (2006) recommends that effective school discipline and school violence prevention be substituted for ineffective zero tolerance policies that disproportionately affect students based on race, class, and gender" (Reyes, 2011, p. 478).

Why do you think teachers tend to punish black students more than white students?

Have you ever been in a school where you saw the school-to-prison pipeline?

How does media affect teachers' treatment of students?

Violence in the Media

"The early research on the effects of media on youth violence concluded that exposure to media violence increased children's physical and verbal aggressive behavior in the short term period. Aggressive attitudes and emotions that are theoretically linked to aggressive and violent behavior were also increased; however the evidence for long-term effects on violence is inconsistent" (Reyes, 2011, p. 474).

Group 1 video:

Group 2 video"

(please watch 3:10-8:34)

As you watch your video, consider the following:

1) What claim did the video make?

2) Did you agree or disagree with the video?

3) Do you have any personal experiences with this issue?

School Discipline and Student Criminalization in the News

"The public perceptions of youth violence and of children and youth under the age of 18 as criminals drive a get-tough public school discipline policy and demand zero tolerance discipline policies that disproportionately disadvantage youth by race, social class, and gender" (Reyes, 2011, p. 476).

As you read your assigned article, consider the following:

Youth violence

1) How are youth portrayed in the article?

2) Where is the blame/fault placed in the article?

3) Does the article support the idea of youth criminality rising?


1) Does the article show zero tolerance ase effective?

2) What is the rational behind zero tolerance policies?

3) Do zero-tolerance policies help or harm students?

What is the connection between portrayals of youth violence and zero tolerance policies?

Final Thoughts

"APA recommends that an effective discipline program include three levels of intervention: (1) primary prevention strategies targeted at all students; (2) secondary prevention strategies that are targeted at those students who may be at-risk of violence or disruptions; and (3) tertiary strategies that target those students who have already engaged in disruptive or violent behavior" (Reyes, 2011, p. 478).

Considering this, what strategies could be implemented at each of these levels, as opposed to zero-tolerance policies?


American Kids & The School-To-Prison Pipeline. (2015). Retrieved July 28, 2015, from

Bad behavior: Critics say kids get away with too much under Madison School District's new policy : Ct. (2015, July 1). Retrieved July 28, 2015, from

Civil Rights Data Collection "Data Snapshot: School Discipline" (2014, March 1). Retrieved July 28, 2015, from

Do video games cause violence in kids? Interesting facts and data. (2011, October 13). Retrieved July 28, 2015, from

Gross, A. (2014, October 13). How a Pocketknife and Bad School Policy Can Ruin a Student's Life. Retrieved July 28, 2015.

Pitney, N. (2015). Teachers Of All Races Are More Likely To Punish Black Students. Retrieved July 28, 2015.

Reyes, A. (2011). School Discipline and the Criminalization of Youth. In Handbook of Research in the Social Foundations of Education (pp. 469-488). New York: Routledge.

Three teens charged with killing Hoboken man in violent game of “knockout,” authorities say. (2013, September 21). Retrieved July 28, 2015, from

Video Games Don't Cause Violent Behavior. (2014, May 4). Retrieved July 28, 2015, from

Violent teen mob attacks shoppers, workers at Tenn. grocery store (VIDEO). (2014, September 8). Retrieved July 28, 2015, from

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