School Bonding in Children and Adolescents: Conceptualization, Assessment, and Associated Variables

  • Samuel J. Maddox
  • Ronald J. Prinz


School bonding refers to the “connections” that youth have with their schools and various aspects of their academic lives. School bonding may be an important concept in prevention because it has been linked to various developmental and adjustment outcomes. This paper reviews conceptualizations, measurements, and theories of school bonding. Also considered are empirical studies that have linked school bonding to a variety of outcomes (substance use, delinquency, antisocial behavior, self-esteem). The review includes examination of how school bonding serves as a mediator in these relations and, in turn, is moderated by other variables. Despite inconsistencies in conceptualization and measurement, it is concluded that school bonding is an important construct and an appropriate target for intervention. Recommendations are offered regarding future research on school bonding, especially with respect to positive developmental outcomes and examination of variables that might moderate school bonding.

school bonding children adolescents social development model delinquency substance use 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Accordino, D. B., Accordino, M. P., & Slaney, R. B. (2000). An investigation of perfectionism, mental health, achievement, and achievement motivation in adolescents. Psychology in the Schools, 37, 535-545.Google Scholar
  2. Akers, R. L., & Cochran, J. K. (1985). Adolescent marijuana use: A test of three theories of deviant behavior. Deviant Behavior, 6, 323-346.Google Scholar
  3. Ayers, C. D., Williams, J. H., Hawkins, J. D., Peterson, P. L., Catalano, R. F., & Abbott, R. D. (1999). Assessing correlates of onset, escalation, deescalation, and desistance of delinquent behavior. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 15, 277-307.Google Scholar
  4. Bachman, R., & Peralta, R. (2002). The relationship between drinking and violence in an adolescent population: Does gender matter. Deviant Behavior: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 23, 1-19.Google Scholar
  5. Balk, D. E. (1995). Adolescent development: Early through late adolescence. Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole.Google Scholar
  6. Berryhill, J. C., & Prinz, R. J. (in press). Environmental interventions to enhance student adjustment: Implication for prevention. Prevention Science.Google Scholar
  7. Black, S. (1998). Facts of life. American School Board Journal, 185, 33-36.Google Scholar
  8. Blankmeyer, M., Flannery, D. J., & Vazsonyi, A. (2002). The role of aggression and social competence in children's perceptions of the child–teacher relationship. Psychology in the Schools, 39, 293-304.Google Scholar
  9. Brophy, J. E. (1988). On motivating students. In D. Berliner & B. Rosenshine (Eds.), Talks to teachers(pp. 201-245). New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  10. Bryant, A. L., Schulenberg, J., Bachman, J. G., O'Malley, P. M., & Johnston, L. D. (2000). Acting out and lighting up: Understanding the links among school misbehavior, academic achievement, and cigarette useMonitoring the Future Occasional Paper No. 46). Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.Google Scholar
  11. Catalano, R., & Hawkins, J. D. (1996). The social development model: A theory of antisocial behavior. In J. D. Hawkins (Ed.), Delinquency and crime: Current theories(pp. 149-197). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Catalano, R., Kosterman, R., Hawkins, J. D., Newcomb, M. D., & Abbott, R. D. (1996). Modeling the etiology of adolescent substance use: A test of the social development model. Journal of Drug Issues, 26, 429-455.Google Scholar
  13. Cernkovich, S. A., & Giordano, P. C. (1992). School bonding, race, and delinquency. Criminology, 30, 261-291.Google Scholar
  14. Cook, E. T., Greenberg, M., & Kusche, C. (1995). People in my life: Attachment relationships in middle childhood. Paper presented at the meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Indianapolis, IN.Google Scholar
  15. Crusto, C. (2000, June 1–4). Developing successful strategies to prevent dropping out of school: Linking correlates and developmental processes to interventions. Paper presented at the Society for Prevention Reseaerch, Montreal, Canada.Google Scholar
  16. Danziger, S. K. (1995). Family life and teenage pregnancy in the inner-city: Experiences of African-American youth. Children and Youth Services Review, 17, 183-202.Google Scholar
  17. Demaray, M. K., & Malecki, C. K. (2002). The relationship between percieved social support and maladjustment for students at risk. Psychology in the Schools, 39, 305-316.Google Scholar
  18. Dishion, T. J., McCord, J., & Poulin, F. (1999). When interventions harm: Peer groups and problem behavior. American Psychologist, 54, 755-764.Google Scholar
  19. Eggert, L., & Kumpfer, K. L. (1997). Drug abuse prevention for at-risk individuals. Bethesda, MD: Abt Associates.Google Scholar
  20. Eggert, L. L., Thompson, E. A., Herting, J. R., Nicholas, L. J., & Dicker, B. G. (1994). Preventing adolescent drug abuse and high school dropout through an intensive school-based social network development program. American Journal of Health Promotion, 8, 202-215.Google Scholar
  21. Elliott, D. S., Huizinga, D., & Ageton, S. S. (1985). Explaining delinquency and drug use. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  22. Evans, T. D., Cullen, F. T., Burton, V. S., Jr., Dunaway, R. G., & Benson, M. L. (1997). The social consequences of self-control: Testing the genreal theory of crime. Criminology, 35, 475-501.Google Scholar
  23. Farnworth, M., Schweinhart, L. J., & Beurueta-Clement, J. R. (1985). Preschool intervention, school success and delinquency in a high-risk sample of youth. American Educational Research Journal, 22, 445-464.Google Scholar
  24. Figueira-McDonough, J. (1983). On the usefulness of Merton's Anomie Theory: Academic failure and deviance among high school students. Youth and Society, 14, 259-279.Google Scholar
  25. Figueira-McDonough, J. (1987). Discrimination or sex differences? Criteria for evaluating the juvenile justice system's handling of minor offenses. Crime and Delinquency, 33, 403-424.Google Scholar
  26. Fordham, S. (1985). Black students' school success: Coping with the “burden of ‘acting white’.”Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  27. Fraser, M. W. (1996). Aggressive behavior in childhood and early adolescence: An ecological-developmental perspective on youth violence. Social Work, 41, 347-361.Google Scholar
  28. Free, M. D., Jr. (1994). Religiosity, religious conservatism, bonds to school, and juvenile delinquency among three categories of drug users. Deviant Behavior, 15, 151-170.Google Scholar
  29. Goodenow, C. (1993). The psychological sense of school membership among adolescents: Scale development and educational correlates. Psychology in the Schools, 30, 79-90.Google Scholar
  30. Gottfredson, G. D. (1984). The effective school battery. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.Google Scholar
  31. Gottfredson, G. D., & Gottfedson, D. C. (1999). Technical manual for research editions of What About You (WAY). Ellicott City, MD: Gottfredson Associates.Google Scholar
  32. Gottfredson, M., & Hirschi, T. (1990). A general theory of crime. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Grotevant, H. D., & Thorbecke, W. L. (1982). Sex differences in styles of occupational identity formation in late adolescence. Developmental Psychology, 18, 396-405.Google Scholar
  34. Hawdon, J. E. (1999). Daily routines and crime: Using routine activities as measures of Hirschi's involvement. Youth and Society, 30, 395-415.Google Scholar
  35. Hawkins, J. D., Catalano, R. F., Morrison, D. M., O'Donnell, J., Abbott, R. D., & Day, L. E. (1992). The Seattle social development project: Effects of the first four years on protective factors and problem behaviors. In J. McCord & R. E. Tremblay (Eds.), Preventing antisocial behavior: Interventions from birth through adolescence(pp. 139-206). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  36. Hawkins, J. D., Graham, J. W., Maguin, E., Abbott, R., Hill, K. G., & Catalano, R. (1997). Exploring the effects of age of alcohol use initiation and psychosocial risk factors on subsequent alcohol misuse. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 58, 280-290.Google Scholar
  37. Hawkins, J. D., & Lishner, D. (1987). Etiology and prevention of antisocial behavior in children and adolescents. In D. H. Crowell, I. M. Evans, & C. R. O'Donnell (Eds.), Childhood aggression and violence: Sources of influence, prevention and control(pp. 263-282). New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  38. Hickman, M., & Piquero, A. (2001). Exploring the relationship between gender, control balance, and deviance. Deviant Behavior: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 22, 323-351.Google Scholar
  39. Hirschi, T. (1969). Causes of delinquency. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  40. Hoffmann, J. P., & Miller, A. S. (1998). A latent variable analysis of general strain theory. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 14, 83-110.Google Scholar
  41. Hunt, J. G., & Hunt, L. L. (1977). Racial inequality and self-image: Identity maintenance as identity diffusion. Sociology and Social Research, 61, 539-559.Google Scholar
  42. Junger, M., & Tremblay, R. E. (1999). Self-control, accidents, and crime. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 26, 485-501.Google Scholar
  43. Keith, P. (1999). Parental involvement and attendance. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina, College of Liberal Arts, Department of Psychology.Google Scholar
  44. Kleinman, P. H., Wish, E. D., Deren, S., & Rainone, G. A. (1986). Multiple drug use: A symptomatic behavior. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 18, 77-86.Google Scholar
  45. Krohn, M., & Massey, J. (1980). Social control and delinquent behavior: An examination of the elements of the social bond. The Sociological Quarterly, 21, 529-543.Google Scholar
  46. Kumpfer, K. L., & Turner, C. W. (1990–1991). The social ecology model of adolescent substance abuse: Implications for prevention. The International Journal of the Addictions, 25(4A), 435-463.Google Scholar
  47. Learner, D. G., & Kruger, L. J. (1997). Attachment, self-concept, and academic motivation in high-school students. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 67, 485-492.Google Scholar
  48. Liska, A., & Reed, M. D. (1985, August). Ties to conventional institutions and delinquency: Estimating reciprocal effects. American Sociological Review, 50, 547-560.Google Scholar
  49. Lopez, E. J., Ehly, S., & Garcia-Vazquez, E. (2002). Acculturation, social support and academic achievement of Mexican and Mexican American high school students: An exploratory study. Psychology in the Schools, 39, 245-257.Google Scholar
  50. Ludwig, K. B., & Pittman, J. F. (1999). Adolescent prosocial values and self-efficacy in relation to delinquency, risky sexual behavior, and substance use. Youth and Society, 30, 461-482.Google Scholar
  51. Malecki, C. K., & Demaray, M. K. (2002). Measuring percieved social support: Development of the child and adolescent social support scale (CASSS). Psychology in the Schools, 39, 1-18.Google Scholar
  52. Marchant, G. J., Paulson, S., & Rothlisberg, B. A. (2001). Relations of middle school students perceptions of famliy and school context with academic achievement. Psychology in the Schools, 38, 505-519.Google Scholar
  53. Mazerolle, P., Brame, R., Paternoster, R., Piquero, A., & Dean, C. (2000). Onset age, persistence, and offending versatility: Comparisons across gender. Criminology, 38, 1143-1172.Google Scholar
  54. Mcgee, Z. T. (1992). Social class differences in the parental and peer influence on adolescent drug use. Deviant Behavior, 13, 349-372.Google Scholar
  55. Meier, R., & McDaniel, E. (1974). A measure of attitude toward school. Educational and Psychological Measurment, 34, 997-998.Google Scholar
  56. Morrison, G. M., Robertson, L., & Harding, M. (1998). Resilience factors that support the classroom functioning of acting out and aggressive students. Psychology in the Schools, 35, 217-227.Google Scholar
  57. Murguia, E., Chen, Z.-Y., & Kaplan, H. B. (1998). A comparison of causal factors in drug use among Mexican Americans and non-Hispanic Whites. Social Science Quarterly, 79, 341-360.Google Scholar
  58. Murray, C., & Greenberg, M. (2000). Children's relationship with teachers and bonds with school: An investigation of patterns and correlates in middle childhood. Journal of School Psychology, 38, 423-445.Google Scholar
  59. Murray, C., & Greenberg, M. (2001). Relationships with teachers and bonds with school: Social emotional adjustment correlates for children with and without disabilities. Psychology in the Schools, 38, 25-41.Google Scholar
  60. Nagin, D. S., & Paternoster, R. (1993). Enduring individual differences and rationale choice theories of crime. Law and Scoiety Review, 27, 467-496.Google Scholar
  61. O'Donnell, J., Hawkins, J. D., & Abbott, R. D. (1995). Predicting serious delinquency and substance use among aggressive boys. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 63, 529-537.Google Scholar
  62. Paternoster, R., & Brame, R. (2000). On the association among self-control, crime, and analogous behaviors. Criminology, 38, 971-982.Google Scholar
  63. Pianta, R. C., & Steinberg, M. (1992). Teacher-child relationships and the process of adjusting to school. In R. C. Pianta (Ed.), Beyond the parent: The role of other adults in children's lives(Vol. 57, pp. 61-80). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  64. Pilgrim, C., Abbey, A., Hendrickson, P., & Lorenz, S. (1998). Implementation and impact of a family-based substance abuse prevention program in rural communities. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 18, 341-361.Google Scholar
  65. Pratt, T. C., & Cullen, F. T. (2000). The empirical status of Gottfredson and Hirschi's general theory of crime: A meta-analysis. Criminology, 38, 931-964.Google Scholar
  66. Reynolds, C. R., & Kamphaus, R. W. (1998). BASC; Behavior Assessment System for Children manual. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service.Google Scholar
  67. Rosenberg, M., & Simmons, R. G. (1971). Functions of children's perception of the stratification system. American Sociological Review, 36, 235-249.Google Scholar
  68. Santrock, J. W. (1996). Adolescence (6th ed.). Madison: Brown & Benchmark.Google Scholar
  69. 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, 99-107.Google Scholar
  70. Sommers, I., Fagan, J., & Baskin, D. (1994). The influence of acculturation and familism on Puerto Rican delinquency. Justice Quarterly, 11, 207-228.Google Scholar
  71. Taylor, C. (2001). The relationship between social and self-control: Tracing Hirschi's criminological career. Theoretical Criminology, 5, 369-388.Google Scholar
  72. Valentine, J., Gottlieb, B., Keel, S., Griffith, J., & Ruthazer, R. (1998). Measuring the effectiveness of the urban youth connection: The case for dose-response modeling to demonstrate the impact of an adolescent substance abuse prevention program. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 18, 363-387.Google Scholar
  73. Wade, T. J., & Brannigan, A. (1998). The genesis of adolescent risk-taking: Pathways through family, school, and peers. Canadian Journal of Sociology, 23, 1-19.Google Scholar
  74. Welsh, W. N., Greene, J. R., & Jenkins, P. H. (1999). School disorder: The influence of individual, institutional and community factors. Criminology, 37, 73-115.Google Scholar
  75. Wiatrowski, M., & Anderson, K. L. (1987). The dimensionality of the social bond. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 3, 65-81.Google Scholar
  76. Wiatrowski, M. D., Hansell, S., Massey, C. R., & Wilson, D. L. (1982). Curriculum tracking and delinquency. American Sociological Review, 47, 151-160.Google Scholar
  77. Williams, J. H. (1994). Understanding substance use, delinquency involvement, and juvenile justice system involvement among African American and European American adolescents. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Washington.Google Scholar
  78. Williams, J. H., Ayer, C. D., Abbot, R. D., Hawkins, J. D., & Catalano, R. F. (1999). Racial differences in risk factors for delinquency and substance use among adolescents. Social Work Research, 23, 241-256.Google Scholar
  79. Williams, S., & McGee, R. (1991). Adolescent's self-perceptions of their strengths. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 20, 325-337.Google Scholar
  80. Woolfolk, A. E. (1995). Educational psychology (6th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  81. Zhang, L., & Messner, S. F. (1996). School attachment and official delinquency status in the People's Republic of China. Sociological Forum, 11, 285-303.Google Scholar
  82. Zhang, L., Welte, J. W., & Wieczorek, W. F. (2002). Underlying common factors of adolescent problem behaviors. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 29, 161-182.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of South CarolinaColumbiaSouth Carolina

Personalised recommendations