Teachers as Builders of Respectful School Climates: Implications for Adolescent Drug Use Norms and Depressive Symptoms in High School

  • Maria D. LaRussoEmail author
  • Daniel Romer
  • Robert L. Selman
Original Paper


Positive school climates have been found to have favorable effects on adolescent health risk behaviors and mental health outcomes. However, the mechanisms by which teacher behavior may promote such effects in high schools have not been extensively studied. Based on social control theory and a social developmental-contextual model, it was predicted that by respecting students’ points of view and decision making capabilities, teachers can help build respectful school climates that encourage healthy norms of behavior. Structural equation modeling with a nationally representative sample of 476 youth ages 14–18 supported the model. Adolescents who reported higher teacher support and regard for student perspectives in their high schools were more likely to see their schools as having respectful climates and healthy norms of drug use which was associated with lower levels of personal drug use. Students in such schools also reported greater social belonging and fewer symptoms of depression.


School environment Social norms High school Teacher–student relationships Substance use Depressive symptoms 



During the writing of this article, the first author was supported by an American Psychological Association/Institute of Education Sciences Postdoctoral Education Research Training fellowship under Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences grant number R305U030004.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria D. LaRusso
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daniel Romer
    • 2
  • Robert L. Selman
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Applied PsychologyNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Annenberg Public Policy Center, Adolescent Risk Communication InstituteUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Harvard University Graduate School of EducationCambridgeUSA

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