Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 499–514 | Cite as

School Belonging and School Misconduct: The Differing Role of Teacher and Peer Attachment

  • Jannick Demanet
  • Mieke Van Houtte
Empirical Research


The schools-as-communities perspective provides a popular explanation for school-disruptive behavior, stating that interpersonal bonding at school and feelings of school belonging prevent misconduct. In this article, we build on this perspective in three ways. First, we test whether the preventive influence of school belonging acts at the individual or school level. Secondly, we test whether a distinction should be made between the different actors with whom students bond at school, by assessing whether perceived teacher support, school belonging, and peer attachment relate differently to school misconduct. Lastly, the present study investigates whether the associations of bonding with teachers, peers and the school with school misconduct differ by socio-ethnic school context. Multilevel analyses were performed on data from the Flemish Educational Assessment. The sample consisted of 11,872 students (51.4% female) in 85 schools, most of whom were natives (88.8%), with immigrants (11.2%) mostly having Turkish or Moroccan backgrounds (both about 30% of immigrants in the sample), and others Southern-European (16%), Eastern-European (8%), North-African (5%), or other (17%) backgrounds. Results showed that the students’ individual feelings of bonding with peers, teachers and school associate with school misconduct, rather than the overall school cohesion. Results further showed that, while higher perceived teacher support and school belonging related to less school misconduct, higher peer attachment was associated with higher rates of school misconduct. No differences were found by socio-ethnic context. Implications are discussed.


Schools-as-communities perspective School misconduct Peer attachment Teacher support School belonging School composition 



The authors are grateful to Simon Boone, the Editor, and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful feedback on this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology, Research Team CuDOSGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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