Purpose: To examine the effect of school suspensions and arrests (i.e., being taken into police custody) on subsequent adolescent antisocial behavior such as violence and crime, after controlling for established risk and protective factors in Victoria, Australia and Washington State, United States (U.S.). Methods: This article reports on analyses of two points of data collected 1 year apart within a cross-national longitudinal study of the development of antisocial behavior, substance use, and related behaviors in approximately 4000 students aged 12 to 16 years in Victoria, Australia and Washington State, U.S. Students completed a modified version of the Communities That Care self-report survey of behavior, as well as risk and protective factors across five domains (individual, family, peer, school, and community). Multivariate logistic regression analyses investigate the effect of school suspensions and arrests on subsequent antisocial behavior, holding constant individual, family, peer, school, and community level influences such as being female, student belief in the moral order, emotional control, and attachment to mother. Results: At the first assessment, school suspensions and arrests were more commonly reported in Washington, and school suspensions significantly increased the likelihood of antisocial behavior 12 months later, after holding constant established risk and protective factors (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1.5, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.1-2.1, p < .05). Predictors of antisocial behavior spanned risk and protective factors across five individual and ecological areas of risk. Risk factors in this study were pre-existing antisocial behavior (OR 3.6, CI 2.7-4.7, p < .001), association with antisocial peers (OR 1.8, CI 1.4-2.4, p < .001), academic failure (OR 1.3, CI 1.1-1.5, p < .01), and perceived availability of drugs in the community (OR 1.3, CI 1.1-1.5, p < .001). Protective factors included being female (OR 0.7, CI 0.5-0.9, p < .01), student belief in the moral order (OR 0.8, CI 0.6-1.0, p < .05), student emotional control (OR 0.7, CI 0.6-0.8, p < .001), and attachment to mother (OR 0.8, CI 0.7-1.0, p < .05). Conclusions: School suspensions may increase the likelihood of future vior. Further research is required to both replicate this finding and establish the mechanisms by which school suspensions exert their effects.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors are grateful for the financial support of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (RO1 DA12140) for the International Youth Development Study. The writing of this article was supported by a Grant from the Australian Criminology Research Council. The views expressed are the responsibility of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Council. The authors wish to express their appreciation and thanks to project staff and participants for their valuable contribution to the project. This article builds on a conference paper presented at the Crime in Australia: International Connections Conference in November, 2004, Melbourne, Australia. This paper was presented at the annual Australian Psychological Society Conference in Melbourne, Australia, September 2005.
Copyright 2011 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.
- Protective factors
- Risk factors