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Modeling the effects of racial threat on punitive and restorative school discipline practices.

Payne, Allison Ann
June 4, 2015

Source: (2010) Criminology. 48(4):1019-1062.

It is clear that schools are mirroring the criminal justice system by becoming harsher toward student misbehavior despite decreases in delinquency. Moreover, Black students consistently are disciplined more frequently and more severely than others for the same behaviors, much in the same way that Black criminals are subjected to harsher criminal punishments than other offenders. Research has found that the racial composition of schools is partially responsible for harsher school discipline just as the racial composition of areas has been associated with punitive criminal justice measures. Yet, no research has explored comprehensively the dynamics involved in how racial threat and other factors influence discipline policies that ultimately punish Black students disproportionately. In this study (N = 294 public schools), structural equation models assess how school racial composition affects school disciplinary policies in light of other influences on discipline and gauge how other possible predictors of school disciplinary policies relate to racial composition of schools, to various school disciplinary policies, and to one another. Findings indicate that schools responding to student misbehavior with one type of discipline tend to use other types of responses as well and that many factors predict the type of disciplinary response used by schools. However, disadvantaged, urban schools with a greater Black, poor, and Hispanic student population are more likely to respond to misbehavior in a punitive manner and less likely to respond in a restorative manner.(author’s abstract)


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