Beyond Zero Tolerance Conference Offers Fresh Approach to Teens and Drugs

Press Release September 19, 2006
Media Contact

Tony Newman at (646) 335-5384 or Tommy McDonald at (646) 335-2242

With alcohol, drug and tobacco use among teenagers still pervasive, a one-day conference for educators in San Francisco on October 25, offers a new, reality-based approach to drug education and school discipline in secondary schools.

The conference, Beyond Zero Tolerance: New Directions in Drug Education and School Discipline, is aimed at teachers, principals, administrators, school board members and others in secondary education. The conference will be held in Landmark Building A of the Fort Mason Conference Center in San Francisco. It is sponsored by the San Francisco Medical Society, the Office of the Mayor, City and County of San Francisco, California State Assemblymember Mark Leno, California State Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg, San Francisco Department of Public Health, Marin County Department of Health and Human Services, International Institute for Restorative Practices, and the Drug Policy Alliance.

Featured speakers include San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, nationally renowned drug educator, Marsha Rosenbaum, director of the Safety First Project of the Drug Policy Alliance, Assemblymember Mark Leno, and Professor Rodney Skager, author of Beyond Zero Tolerance: A Reality-Based Approach to Drug Education and Student Assistance.

“Beyond Zero Tolerance provides educators with tools for implementing humane and effective drug education, at minimal cost and using their own faculty,” said Dr. Marsha Rosenbaum. “Statistics show that schools offering assistance and restorative practices programs pay for themselves through savings in school funding based on average daily attendance and staff time saved by reductions in disciplinary referrals and disruptive behavior.”

Despite the efforts of today’s prevention programs and zero-tolerance policies, the use of alcohol and other drugs, remains disturbingly high among secondary school students. Additionally, deep cuts in funding have left school administrators in a quandary about ways to both reduce drug abuse and prevent truancy, suspensions, and dropout rates.

According to the most recent Monitoring the Future national survey, half of all teenagers have used an illegal drug by the time they graduate from high school and 75 percent have tried alcohol — itself a drug.

The Beyond Zero Tolerance approach featured in this one-day conference offers realistic, pragmatic, and cost-effective strategies for implementing drug education and effective disciplinary practices in secondary schools.

The Beyond Zero Tolerance approach replaces punitive measures with restorative practices, enabling offenders to acknowledge the harms they have caused, guide them in making amends, and be re-accepted into the school community. It combines comprehensive, interactive, and honest drug education with identification of, and assistance for students whose lives are disrupted by substance abuse.

Because the Beyond Zero Tolerance programs train existing staff to implement the approach rather than paying for outside personnel and programs, it is a great cost-savings to secondary schools.

Participants of the conference will learn:

For more on the Beyond Zero Tolerance approach to drug education or for more information on the conference, go to

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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