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19-01-2016 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 11/2016

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 11/2016

Authoritative School Climate and High School Student Risk Behavior: A Cross-sectional Multi-level Analysis of Student Self-Reports

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 11/2016
Auteurs:
Dewey Cornell, Francis Huang

Abstract

Many adolescents engage in risk behaviors such as substance use and aggression that jeopardize their healthy development. This study tested the hypothesis that an authoritative school climate characterized by strict but fair discipline and supportive teacher–student relationships is conducive to lower risk behavior for high school students. Multilevel logistic regression models were used to analyze cross-sectional, student-report survey data from a statewide sample of 47,888 students (50.6 % female) in 319 high schools. The students included ninth (26.6 %), tenth (25.5 %), eleventh (24.1 %) and twelfth (23.8 %) grade with a racial/ethnic breakdown of 52.2 % White, 18.0 % Black, 13.1 % Hispanic, 5.9 % Asian, and 10.8 % reporting another or two or more race/ethnicities. Schools with an authoritative school climate had lower levels of student-reported alcohol and marijuana use; bullying, fighting, and weapon carrying at school; interest in gang membership; and suicidal thoughts and behavior. These results controlled for demographic variables of student gender, race, grade, and parent education level as well as school size, percentage of minority students, and percentage of low income students. Overall, these findings add new evidence that an authoritative school climate is associated with positive student outcomes.

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