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

  • Maria D. LaRusso
  • Daniel Romer
  • Robert L. Selman
Original Paper

Abstract

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.

Keywords

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

References

  1. Arbuckle, J. L., & Wothke, W. (1999). Amos 4.0 user’s guide. Chcago: SPSS.Google Scholar
  2. Battistich, V., Schaps, E., & Wilson, N. (2004). Effects of an elementary school intervention on students’ “connectedness” to school and social adjustment during middle school. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 24(3), 243–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bollen, K., & Hoyle, R. (1991). Perceived cohesion: A conceptual and empirical examination. Social Forces, 69, 479–504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bonny, A. E., Britto, M. T., Klostermann, B. K., Hornung, R. W., & Slap, G. B. (2000). School disconnectedness: Identifying adolescents at risk. Pediatrics, 106(5), 1017–1021.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bronfenbrenner, U., & Morris, P. A. (1998). The ecology of developmental processes. In W. Damon, & R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology: Theoretical models of human development (5th ed., Vol. 1, pp. 993–1028). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  6. Burton, E. M., Stice, E., & Seeley, J. R. (2004). A prospective test of the stress-buffering model of depression in adolescent girls: No support again. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74(4), 689–697.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cambridge Public Schools (2002). Hooking Kids on School. Unpublished measure.Google Scholar
  8. Catalano, R. F., Haggery, K. P., Oesterle, S., Fleming, C. B., & Hawkins, J. D. (2004). The importance of bonding to school for healthy development: Findings from the social development research group. Journal of School Health, 74(7), 252–261.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. CDC. (2003). Public health surveillance for behavioral risk factors in a changing environment. MMWR, 52(RR-9).Google Scholar
  10. Coker, J. K., & Borders, L. D. (2001). An analysis of environmental and social factors affecting adolescent problem drinking. Journal of Counseling & Development, 79, 200–208.Google Scholar
  11. Cook-Sather, A. (2002). Find out what it means to me: Respect. Academic Exchange Quarterly, 6(1), 168–173.Google Scholar
  12. Frei, J. R., & Shaver, P. R. (2002). Respect in close relationships: Prototype definition, self-report assessment, and initial correlates. Personal Relationships, 9, 121–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gottfredson, G. D., & Gottfredson, D. C. (1985). Victimization in schools. New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  14. Gottfredson, G. D., Gottfredson, D. C., Payne A. A., & Gottfredson, N. C. (2005). School climate predictors of school disorder: Results from a national study of delinquency prevention in schools. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 42(4), 412–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hawkins, J. D., Catalano, R. F., Kosterman, R., Abbott, R., & Hill, K. G. (1999). Preventing adolescent health-risk behaviors by strengthening protection during childhood. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 13, 226–234.Google Scholar
  16. Hemmings, A. (2003). Fighting for respect in urban high schools. Teachers College Record, 105(3), 416–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hirschi, T. (1969). Causes of delinquency. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  18. Hu, L., & Bentler, P. M. (1995). Evaluating model fit. In R. H. Hoyle (Ed.), Structural equation modeling: Concepts, issues and applications (pp. 76–99). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  19. Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2004). Monitoring the future national survey results on drug use, 1975–2004: Secondary school students (NIH Publication No. 05–5727) (Vol. I) Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse.Google Scholar
  20. Jones, H. M. F. (2002). Respecting respect: Exploring a great deal. Educational Studies, 28(4), 341–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kann, L., Kinchen, S., Williams, B., Ross, J., Lowry, R., & Grunbaum, J. A., et al. (2000). Youth risk behavior surveillance survey—United States 1999. CDC Surveillance Summaries, 49(SS5), 1–96.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Kumar, R., O’Malley, P. M., Johnston, L. D., Schulenberg, J. E., & Bachman, J. G. (2002). Effects of school-level norms on student substance use. Prevention Science, 3(2), 105–124.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kuperminc, G. P., Leadbeater, B. J., & Blatt, S. J. (2001). School social climate and individual differences in vulnerability to psychopathology among middle school students. Journal of School Psychology, 39(2), 141–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kuperminc, G. P., Leadbeater, B. J., Emmons, C., & Blatt, S. J. (1997). Perceived school climate and difficulties in the social adjustment of middle school students. Applied Developmental Science, 1(2), 76–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. LaRusso, M. D. (2004). Early adolescents’ experiences of risks, relationships, and school atmosphere: An integrated qualitative and quantitative study. Doctoral Dissertation, Harvard University, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  26. LaRusso, M. D., & Selman, R. L. (2003). The influence of development and school atmosphere on adolescents’ perceptions of risk and prevention: Cynicism and skepticism. In D. Romer (Ed.), Reducing adolescent risk: Toward an integrated strategy (pp. 113–122). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  27. LaRusso, M. D., & Selman, R. L. (under review). Students’ social awareness and the middle school climate: Implications for early adolescents’ risky behaviors and cynical versus skeptical attitudes.Google Scholar
  28. Lawrence-Lightfoot, S. (2000). Respect: An exploration. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books.Google Scholar
  29. Lewinsohn, P. M., Roberts, R. E., Seeley, J. R., Rhode, P., Gotlib, I. H., & Hops, H. (1994). Adolescent psychopathology: II. Psychosocial risk factors for depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 103, 302–315.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Libbey, H. P. (2004). Measuring student relationships to school: Attachment, bonding, connectedness, and engagement. Journal of School Health, 74(7), 274–283.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Loukas, A., & Robinson, S. (2004). Examining the moderating role of perceived school climate in early adolescent adjustment. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 14(2), 209–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Loukas, A., Suzuki, R., & Horton, K. D. (2006). Examining school connectedness as a mediator of school climate effects. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 16(3), 491–502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Maddox, S. J., & Prinz, R. J. (2003). School bonding in children and adolescents: Conceptualization, assessment, and associated variables. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 6(1), 31–49.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Maruyama, G. M. (1998). Basics of structural equation modeling. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  35. McNeely, C., & Falci, C. (2004). School connectedness and the transition in and out of health-risk behavior among adolescents: A comparison of social belonging and support. Journal of School Health, 74(7), 284–292.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Nutbeam, D., Smith, C., Moore, L., & Bauman, A. (1993). Warning! School can damage your health: Alienation from school and its impact on health behaviour. Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health, 29(Supplement 1), S25–S30.Google Scholar
  37. Patrick, H., Anderman, L. H., & Ryan, A. M. (2002). Social motivation and the classroom social environment. In C. Midgley (Ed.), Goals, goal structures, and patterns of adaptive learning (pp. 85–108). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  38. Resnick, M. D., Bearman, P. S., Blum, R. W., Bauman, K. E., Harris, K. E., & Jones, J., et al. (1997). Protecting adolescents from harm: Findings from the national longitudinal study on adolescent health. JAMA, 278(10), 823–832.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Roeser, R. W., & Eccles, J. S. (1998). Adolescents’ perceptions of middle school: Relation to longitudinal changes in academic and psychological adjustment. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 8(1), 123–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Roeser, R. W., Eccles, J. S., & Sameroff, A. J. (2000). School as a context of early adolescents’ academic and social-emotional development: A summary of research findings. The Elementary School Journal, 100(5), 443–471.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Romer, D. (2003). Prospects for an integrated approach to adolescent risk reduction. In D. Romer (Ed.), Reducing adolescent risk: Toward an integrated strategy (pp. 1–8). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  42. Romer, D., & McIntosh, M. (2005). The roles and perspectives of school mental health professionals in promoting adolescent mental health. In D. L. Evans, E. B. Foa, R. E. Gur, H. Hendin, C. P. O’Brien, M. E. P. Seligman, & B. T. Walsh (Eds.), Treating and preventing adolescent mental health disorders (pp. 579–596). New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ryan, A. M., & Patrick, H. (2001). The classroom social environment and changes in adolescents’ motivation and engagement during middle school. America Educational Research Journal, 38(2), 437–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Samdal, O., Wold, B., Klepp, K. I., & Kannas, L. (2000). Students’ perceptions of school and their smoking and alcohol use: A cross-national study. Addiction Research, 8(2), 141–167.Google Scholar
  45. Selman, R. L. (1980). The growth of interpersonal understanding. Orlando: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  46. Selman, R. L. (2003). The promotion of social awareness: Powerful lessons from the partnership of developmental theory and classroom practice. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  47. Shultz, L. H., Selman, R. L., & LaRusso, M. D. (2003). The assessment of psychosocial maturity in children and adolescents: Implications for the evaluation of school-based character education programs. Journal of Research in Character Education, 1(2), 67–87.Google Scholar
  48. Simons-Morton, B. G., Crump, A. D., Haynie, D. L., & Saylor, K. E. (1999). Student-school bonding and adolescent problem behavior. Health Education Research, 14(1), 99–107.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Welsh, W. N. (2001). Effects of student and school factors on five measures of school disorder. Justice Quarterly, 18(4), 911–947.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wilson, D. B., Gottfredson, D. C., & Najaka, S. S. (2001). School-based prevention of problem behavior: A meta-analysis. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 17, 247–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria D. LaRusso
    • 1
  • 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

Personalised recommendations