The Columbine Effect

Zero tolerance sounds like a good way to treat violence in our schools. But does it go too far?

A seven-year-old boy in Cahokia, Ill., is suspended for having a nail clipper at school. A 10th-grader at Surry County High School in Virginia is booted for having blue-dyed hair. A Minnesota high school nixes a yearbook photo of an Army enlistee in the senior class because it shows her sitting atop a cannon outside a Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

Welcome to the American school after Columbine. It can be a place brimming with suspicion, where in the past few months school officials have seen a nail file as a knife and blue hair as an omen of antisocial, possibly...

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