What is Zero Tolerance?
Zero Tolerance is a policy where people apply rules strictly, with no allowances or exceptions. Sometimes particular police forces have such a policy for certain types of crimes, where others might exercise discretion depending on the circumstances. Some schools and colleges similarly refuse to show any leniency for breaches of those rules they regard as inviolable. Often these concern racism and sexism. Excuses such as ‘it was only a joke’ or ‘it’s what everyone does’ won’t wash. Some say this is the only way to change a culture of bullying or discrimination, but others are concerned it is disproportionate and it can lead to cases of injustice.
Where else is there Zero Tolerance?
Some parents apply such a policy at home, where misbehaviour is always punished without exception. I do not know how effective this is or whether it creates resentment. I expect it works best where parents explain the reasons and gain some sort of consensus. However, I have written before that Lockdown can put extra strain on relationships and toleration, understanding and forgiveness are essential.
When is Zero Tolerance not to be tolerated?
Some people apply a policy like that to themselves! I think we should have high standards and aim to keep them. That’s how we improve. However, you can beat yourself up too readily. We all make mistakes and we have good and bad days. I know I do. If you are too hard on yourself, especially in unusual times like this, you can depress yourself and, ironically, you can blame yourself for being depressed, instead of seeing it as a result of the situation. It’s not the falling down that matters, as long as you don’t stay down.
Be kind to yourself as well as to others.