Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Dr. Kelvin Ramirez



This literature review examines the use of zero tolerance policies and exclusionary practices in schools throughout the United States. The adolescent population is more vulnerable now than ever, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic. An increasing number of students are struggling with behavioral misconduct, mental health issues, and suspension/expulsion from school. The research contained in this review explores how zero tolerance policies have contributed to the current state of our education system, behavioral misconduct in schools, student involvement in the juvenile justice system, alternative methods of discipline such as restorative practices and therapeutic interventions like Art Therapy. The current exclusionary discipline approaches found in the education system, such as zero tolerance policies, are exceedingly inappropriate considering the developmental, emotional, and social needs of this population. The research shows evidence that students need to be provided opportunities within school to repair the harm that they have caused and remain a part of the school community. In addition, the research indicates that alternative styles of discipline, such as restorative justice practices, can reduce violent, aggressive, and high-risk behaviors in disenfranchised students. Lastly, a recommendation is offered on how restorative justice practice might be integrated into school settings using Art Therapy.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.




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