From recess to lockdown: Targeting adult and child school-based practices and behaviors that impact Black male entry into the school to prison pipeline
Prior studies establish that Black males follow a disproportionate trajectory from school to prison when compared to other groups. This same research has documented that multiple risk factors operating within schools may contribute to this phenomenon, commonly known as the "school to prison pipeline." The specific focus of the present study was to investigate multiple contextual risk and protective factors at an alternative secondary school that may impact the future likelihood for Black male incarceration. Guided by the Ecological Systems Theory (Bronfenbrenner, 1989) and the Phenomenological Variant of Ecological Systems Theory (Spencer, Dupree, & Hartmann, 1997) and utilizing information from observations and interviews with students, teachers and school administrators, and survey data from the latter, this study drew largely on a qualitative approach to assess the extent to which several school-based factors would affect life-stage outcomes for Black adolescent males, including biased teacher perceptions, disparities in school discipline procedures, and stringent school policies. The research setting of a disciplinary alternative school, representing one of the ultimate destination points in some student's trajectory from school to prison, was a place of great significance in the study's attempt to understand a chain of events precipitating Black male students' enrollment in more restrictive and punitive school settings. It was postulated that behaviors, policies, practices inherent in this alternative school environment would affect negative or positive outcomes for a Black male student population. Findings revealed that the attitudes, decisions, and behaviors of all participants were a virtual "tipping point" in determining potential pathways towards higher education or, alternatively, incarceration for Black male students. All of the Black male student participants in the present study had a history of school suspensions, and more than half of those interviewed had a parole officer who monitored their attendance in school. These key findings are discussed as well as their implications for future research and school policies and practices.
0451: Social psychology
0519: School counseling
0620: Developmental psychology