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• School bonding is negatively associated with risk behaviors.
• There are racial disparities in school bonding and risk behaviors.
• School bonding partially mediates the relationship between race and risk behaviors.
• Degree of mediation depends on the racial group and specific behavior.
This study tests the hypotheses that school bonding mediates the relationship between adolescents' racial background and key risk behaviors (substance use, failing grades, and fighting). Data sources include an epidemiological survey administered at 50 urban schools to 16,169 students, linked to information about school context (socioeconomic composition, attendance rate, and grade-level). Results indicate that school bonding partially mediates the relationship between race and risk behavior. Findings suggest that culturally responsive efforts to strengthen educational attachment, connection, commitment, and involvement among youth of color may reduce gaps in outcomes that are perceived to be distal from schooling. Further development and testing of multi-level interventions that increase school bonding among youth from non-dominant racial groups are needed.
Journal: Children and Youth Services Review - Volume 69, October 2016, Pages 39–48