School Health Predictors of the School-to-Prison Pipeline

A recent study featuring PISC External Advisory Board Member Charles Branas, PhD, assesses the relationships between mean levels of substance use in schools, developmental risk and resilience factors, and school discipline. Data was linked from the California Healthy Kids Survey and the Civil Rights Collection from 2003 to 2014 to more than 4,950,000 students at more than 4,800 schools. Relationships among standardized school levels were estimated using lagged multilevel linear models. Results show that school mean substance use and risk/resilience factors can predict total discipline. An increase in community support is associated with a decrease in total discipline, while an increase in violence and harassment in school is associated with an increase in total discipline. Additionally, peer and home support, student resilience, and neighborhood safety have no impact on total discipline. “The present study demonstrates that the school-to-prison pipeline is intertwined with adolescent health and well-being,” the team concludes. “Public health should extend its gaze beyond the walls of jails and prisons and into other institutions.”

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