Adolescent problem behavior, including substance use, school misconduct and delinquency, is a national concern. Implicit in the concept of middle school is the recognition that students who develop positive social bonds with their school are more likely to perform well academically, and refrain from misconduct and other antisocial behavior. However, little scientific attention has been given to the complex interactions between middle school students and the school environment. Prior to implementing a middle school problem behavior prevention program we conducted a survey in the seven middle schools in one US school district.
Out of 4668 grade 6–8 students enrolled, 4263 (91.3%) completed the survey. Student–school bonding was positively correlated with school adjustment (r = 0.49) and perceived school climate (r = 0.77), but inversely correlated with problem behavior (r = –0.39 to –0.43). Problem behavior was significantly higher (P < 0.001) among males than females and among students in higher grades. Conversely, school bonding, climate and adjustment were significantly higher (P < 0.001) among females than males, but declined significantly from one grade to the next. The data support the conclusion that school bonding is associated with problem behavior. We describe the development of a multiple-component intervention in middle schools designed to increase student–school bonding and prevent problem behavior.
Article Source: http://her.oxfordjournals.org/content/14/1/99.long