Research has consistently shown that African American youth are among the most suspended, arrested, and institutionalized group of young people in the U.S. Processes of school pushout (suspension, expulsion), youth arrest, and detention are the primary forms of social exclusion that Black youth are at risk of experiencing in their social environments. This marginalization of Black youth has serious physical, emotional, and social consequences that fundamentally alter the long term life-courses of many Black youth. For instance, school suspension and expulsion have been shown to be associated with poorer academic performance, school disengagement, and future involvement with the juvenile justice system (Gregory, et al. 2011; Costenbader & Markson, 1998). Additionally, youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system are at greater risk to have continued involvement with the justice system as adults (Aizer & Doyle, 2015). The purpose of this dissertation was to explore how an adolescent’s social relationships might influence their likelihood of experiencing a form of social exclusion such as suspension, expulsion, and juvenile arrest. Using a nationally representative dataset, a series of analyses was conducted utilizing a mix of latent class analysis, logistic, and multinomial logistic regression. The latent class analysis revealed an interpretable five-class solution in terms of adolescent social relational quality. Youth were classified into five relational sub-groups: (1) strained social relations, (2) moderate global relations, (3) poor school relations, (4) poor teacher relations only, and (5) positive global relations. Per the premise of social exclusion theory, the results of logistic regression analyses indicated that there is an overall association between relationship quality and the three forms of social exclusion. Relationship profiles with strained school-based relationships were found to have an increased likelihood for all forms of exclusion. These findings were found in both the full sample as well as a sub-sample of African American youth. The hypothesis that an adolescent’s relationship profile is a key factor in racial disproportionalities in suspension, expulsion, and arrest was not supported. Overall, the findings of this study serve to reinforce the importance of school based social bonds in determining adolescent social outcomes. Study findings provide further evidence for the importance of relational-based alternatives to exclusionary forms of school discipline. Implications for school policy and school social work practice are discussed.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. November 2017. Major: Social Work. Advisor: Wendy Haight. 1 computer file (PDF); xiii, 179 pages.
The Relationship between Social Exclusion and Relational Strains among African American Adolescents.
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