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Out of the Hood, But Not Out of the Woods: The School Engagement and Cohesion of Black Students Based on Exposure to Violence and Victimization

Abstract

This study examines how violence exposure and victimization (VEV) influences the school engagement and racial cohesion of Black college students. Although VEV has been investigated for its impact on the academic outcomes of Black K-12 students, these issues have not been sufficiently explored in college students. Further, understanding racial cohesion and racial dissonance can elucidate culturally cognizant meaning-making processes that influence Black students’ response to VEV and school engagement. Based on the findings of 242 Black college students from throughout the United States, a 2-step cluster analysis revealed 4 distinct school engagement profiles based on GPA, extracurricular activities and NCAA sports involvement. The results indicated that VEV and racial cohesion was in fact related to Black college student’s engagement. It appears that Black students may respond to high VEV by becoming very engaged in extracurricular activities. Participants that focused solely on academics had the lowest racial cohesion, which may indicate that disengaging from the social and extracurricular activities on campus also includes disengagement from the Black community. Those with the most well-rounded engagement had the highest racial cohesion. University psychologists and administrators should be aware that students with high VEV might gravitate towards extracurricular activities (for support) at the expense of their grades, placing them at risk for academic failure. On the other hand, racial cohesion’s positive relationship with well-rounded student engagement indicates that sociopolitical development activities should be strongly supported.

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Correspondence to Keisha L. Bentley-Edwards.

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Bentley-Edwards, K.L., Smith, L.V., Robbins, P.A. et al. Out of the Hood, But Not Out of the Woods: The School Engagement and Cohesion of Black Students Based on Exposure to Violence and Victimization. Urban Rev 51, 540–558 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-019-00517-2

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Keywords

  • Violence exposure
  • Student engagement
  • Racial cohesion
  • Cluster analysis
  • Victimization
  • College students