Sense of School Coherence, Perceptions of Danger at School, and Teacher Support Among Youth At Risk of School Failure

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1 Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal Volume 15, Number 4, August 1998 Sense of School Coherence, Perceptions of Danger at School, and Teacher Support Among Youth At Risk of School Failure Gary L. Bowen, Ph.D., ACSW, Jack M. Richman, Ph.D., Ann Brewster, M.S., and Natasha Bowen, M.S.W. ABSTRACT) Using a sample of middle and high school students who had been identified by school personnel as at risk of school failure, this investigation examines two competing models about the effects of students' perceptions of danger at school and teacher support on their sense of school coherence. From the compensatory model, it is assumed that risk and protective factors combine additively to influence outcomes. From the immunity model, it is assumed that protective factors buffer or moderate the negative effects of risk factors on outcomes. Support is found for the compensatory or additive model, with perceptions of school danger negatively influencing students' sense of school coherence and teacher support positively influencing variation in the criterion variable. Implications for theory, practice, and further research are discussed. An increasing number of students in our public schools are feeling vulnerable to escalating rates of crime and violence at school. Bullying, pbysical attack, and robbery are not uncommon events in many This article was prepared with grant support from the Knight Foundation in Miami, Florida and the BellSouth Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia for development and pilot testing of the School Success Profile. Gary L. Bowen and Jack M. Richman are coprincipal investigators. Gary L. Bowen, Ph.D., ACSW, is Kenan Distinguished Professor, Jack M. Richman, Ph.D., is Professor, and Ann Brewster, M.S., and Natasha Bowen, M.S.W., are Doctoral Students, all at the School of Social Work, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Address communications to Gary L. Bowen, Ph.D., ACSW, 301 Pittsboro Street, CB #3550, Chapel Hill, North Carolina Human Sciences Press, Inc.

2 274 CHILD AND ADOLESCENT SOCIAL WORK JOURNAL public schools (Gardner, 1995, Mikow, 1994; National Center for Education Statistics, 1994; Singer, Anglin, Song, & Lunghofer, 1995). Findings by Gardner (1995) suggest that students may feel even less safe at school than in their neighborhoods. Perceptions of danger at school may be a particular issue for males, students of color, middle school students, and students from lower socioeconomic homes (Bowen & Chapman, 1996; Gardner, 1995; Mikow, 1994; National Center for Education Statistics, 1994, 1995). In this context, it is not surprising that many students are coming to school armed with weapons, which is likely to further exacerbate students' feelings of threat and danger. National data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that nearly one-quarter of high school students in 1993 (22%) carried a weapon to school (knives, razors, clubs, or firearms) on at least one occasion during the previous 30 days (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1996). Nearly one out of ten of these students (8%) reported having carried a gun to school. Perceptions of danger at school are likely to threaten the extent to which students are able to develop a sense of coherence about their school en\'ironment (Ascher, 1994). Informed by the work of Antonovsky (1979, 1987, 1991) in his studies of health and coping, sense of coherence at school is defined as the extent to which students: (a) feel understood by others at school and able to structure the demands from their school enwonment, (b) perceive themselves as able to handle demands and challenges that they face at school, and (c) find school challenging and engaging. Antonovsky (1987) labeled these three core components of sense of coherence as comprehensibility, mangageability, and meaningfulness. Although Antonovsky (1987, 1991) defined sense of coherence as a generalized orientation, like Bandura's (1986) situationally-specific concept of self-efficacy, it is defined in the present analysis as specific to the school environment. As a cognitive and motivational dimension, the sense of coherence that students evidence at school is likely to have important implications for their level of school performance and achievement (Richman & Bowen, 1997; Steinberg, 1996). ^ While perceptions of danger in the school setting are likely to negatively influence a student's sense of coherence at school, the nature of social support in the school environment is likely to have positive implications on a student's ability to find school comprehensible, manageable, and meaningful (Furstenberg & Hughes, 1995). Teachers are a potential source of such social support in the school environment (Ascher, 1994; Benard, 1991; Bowen & Chapman, 1996; Clark, 1991;

3 G. L. BOWEN, J. M. RICHMAN, A. BREWSTER, AND N. BOWEN 275 Garbarino, Dubrow, Kostelny, & Pardo, 1992; Scales & Gibbons, 1996; Werner, 1990). As adults, teacbers may play an important role in belping students make sense out of confusing, and potentially dangerous, situations at school, serving as both role model and refuge for students who face situations that they may define as beyond their comprehension and control. Informed by a risk and resiliency perspective in developmental psychopathology (Bogenscbneider, 1996; Gilgun, 1996; Werner, 1990), this article examines two competing models of tbe role that risk and protective factors may play in influencing outcomes among a group of middle and high school students who have been identified as at risk of school failure: tbe compensatory model and the immunity model. In a compensatory model, perceptions of danger at scbool (a risk factor) and teacber support (a protective factor) combine additively to influence tbe sense of coherence that students report at school. In the immunity model, teacher support at school is understood as buffering or moderating the negative consequences of school danger on tbe sense of coherence that students experience at school. Teacber support only plays a role in the context of risk. This investigation has important implications for human service professionals who operate in school settings, including school social workers who can play an active role in promoting a social context at school that fosters students' investment in school and level of educational success. Students who have been victims of violence at scbool are more likely than their counterparts to feel alienated from their parents at home, distrustful and critical of their teachers at school, arid rnore cfistrustful of other students at school (Louis Harris & Associates, 1994). As a consequence, they may be put in double jeopardy by the combination of high risk and low protection. Teachers are in a position to reach out to such students and encourage them to talk about their personal exj>eriences and fears. Teachers may also play a key role in directing efforts to increase school safety and in helping students develop concrete strategies for addressing school crime and violence. Given the centrality of teachers in the lives of students, human service professionals can work in partnership with teachers to create a safe and supportive environment at school. Yet, relatively little research has been conducted on the role that teachers may play in helping adolescents cope with specific challenges, like school danger (Scales & Gibbons, 1996). By offering insights into the role tbat teachers play as a social support system for adolescents, the present

4 276 CHILD AND ADOLESCENT SOCIAL WORK JOURNAL research has implications for informing intervention and prevention efforts that are designed to promote adolescent development and academic performance. This research also addresses theoretical questions that are important to advancing theories on risk, resiliency, and the role of protective factors. A Risk and Resiliency Perspective Developmental psychopathology research seeks to identify both (a) specific factors and combinations of factors that promote or discourage a variety of positive developmental outcomes (Garbarino, 1992; Rutter, 1979; Werner, 1990), and (b) the nature of the relationship among the factors (Garmezy, Masten, & Tellegen, 1984; Rutter, 1983). Risk and protective factors affecting children's developmental outcomes have been identified in all of Bronfenbrenner's hierarchy of ecological systems (Garbarino, 1992). School danger and teacher support are extra-familial, microsystem factors. Gilgun suggests that risks are a "statistical, probabilistic concept" that predict what proportion of an at-risk population can be expected to suffer adverse developmental outcomes (Gilgun, 1996). Children possessing risk factors are said to be "vulnerable" to negative outcomes (Gilgun, 1996, p. 396). Assets are factors associated with positive outcomes, much as risk factors are associated with poor outcomes, but "protective factors are assets that individuals actively use to cope with, adapt to, or overcome vulnerability or risks" (Gilgim, 1996, p. 397). Not all individuals may be able to exploit available assets to overcome risk, but few are able to overcome multiple risks in the absence of any significant assets. Relationships among risk and protective variables fall into two categories: additive and interactive (Kirby & Fraser, 1997). In the additive model, referred to as "additive co-action" by Rutter (1983), and the "compensatory model" by Garmezy et al. (1984), risk and protective factors combine additively to predict outcomes. Developmental outcomes improve with higher levels of protection if risk is held constant; and protective factors help "compensate" for the negative effects of high risk levels (Garmezy et al., 1984). The compensatory model is supported when analysis procedures reveal that both risk and protective factors have a statistically significant main effect on the outcome being examined, and no interaction effects. In the current investigation, a statistically significant, nega-

5 G. L. BOWEN, J. M. RICHMAN, A. BREWSTER, AND N. BOWEN 277 tive main effect for perception of danger and a significant, positive main effect for teacher support on school coherence, and no interaction effect would represent support for the compensatory model. An interactive relationship exists when one variable alters the effect of another on the outcome variable. Interaction effects are less common, more varied, and typically smaller than additive effects (Kirby & Fraser, 1997; Rutter, 1983). Interactions may occur among combinations of risk factors (synergistic interaction) or among risk and protective factors (buffering effects) according to Rutter (1983). A major model of risk and protective factor interaction is tbe "immunity model" proposed by Garmezy et al. (1984). In an immunity relationship, protective factors alter the effects of risk factors by mitigating or buffering their negative impact on outcomes. Protective factors in this model exert a conditional impact on the outcome, and may have no measurable effect in tbe absence of a risk factor (Garmezy et al., 1984). Kirby and Fraser's (1997) analogy of immunization against disease wbere tbe protective vaccination plays no role in tbe absence of exposure to disease best illustrates tbe immunity model. In analysis, support for an immunity model would be evidenced by (a) a statistically significant interaction effect between a risk variable and a protective variable in which the pattern of interaction shows a weak relationship between levels of risk and outcomes for subjects witb high protection, and a strong relationship between risk levels and outcomes when the protective factor is absent, and (b) no significant main effect of the protective factor on the outcome variable. In the current study, the immunity model would be supported by a significant interaction between teacher support and perception of school danger, with risk being predictive of negative outcomes for students with low levels of protection, but having little relationship to outcomes for students with high levels of protection. Method Source of Data The data for this analysis were collected during the academic year from 665 students across 21 middle and high schools in North Carolina and Florida. The students were all participants in the Communities In Schools Program (CIS). CIS is the largest stay-in-

6 278 CHILD AND ADOLESCENT SOCIAL WORK JOURNAL school network in the United States, with programs in more than 261 communities across 28 states. All student participants in CIS have been identified by a school official or human service professional in the community as "at risk" of school failure. Although the demographic profiles of these students vary, a large proportion of these students come from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods and homes. In part, this student profile reflects the communities from which CIS identifies schools for program implementation. This student profile also reflects the demography of students most vulnerable to school failure (Rumherger, 1987). These data were collected to evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of The School Success Profile (SSP) (Bowen & Richman, 1995), a self-administered diagnostic instrument that yields profiles on the social environment and individual adaptation of each student respondent. These schools were purposely selected by CIS representatives because of the strength of their programs and their willingness to participate in the evaluation. The population of students who were participating in the CIS program at the 21 project sites were targeted to participate in the baseline assessment (A^ = 1049). Yet, only students who returned signed parent permission forms to CIS representatives at their respective schools were eligible to complete the SSP. On average, 63% of students (n = 665) across the 21 schools completed the SSP. Information is not available that compares participants with nonparticipants. Once parent permission was obtained, students who refused to complete the SSP were a rare exception. Sample Profile The present analysis focused on 602 respondents who provided valid answers on all variables that were included in the analysis. Student respondents ranged in age from 10 to 20 years old. The majority (60.5%) were middle school students (6th-8th grade), and they were nearly evenly split by gender: females (50.8%) and males (49.2%). Most student respondents reported their racial/ethnic identity as either African-American/Black (52.0%) or white (38.9). Nearly threefifths of the respondents reported receiving free or reduced price lunch at school (59.1%). Federal guidelines mandate that students are eligible for a subsidized school lunch when their family's income is at or below 130% of the federal poverty level, which is adjusted for family size. Students are eligible for a reduced-price school lunch

7 G. L. BOWEN, J. M. RICHMAN, A BREWSTER, AND N. BOWEN 279 when their family's income is above 130% of tbe poverty level but at or below 180% of this standard. Data Collection The SSP was administered to students in a group setting. Yet, because of student absenteeism, some students completed tbe survey at a separate time. In all cases, survey administration was monitored by a CIS site coordinator wbo had participated in a mandatory training session that included instruction on tbe administration of the School Success Profile (SSP). On average, students took approximately 30 minutes to complete tbe survey. Measures Three primary measures were used in tbe analysis: sense of school coherence, scbool danger, and teacber support. Tbe criterion variable, school sense of coherence, was assessed by nine items that were developed based on Antonovsky's (1987) 29-item measure of sense of coherence (see Appendix). Each item was designed to tap into one of the three components that were hypothesized to underlie this concept: comprebensibility, manageability, and meaningfulness. Example items included "I often feel unsure of myself at school," "When something happens at school, I can generally figure the situation out," and "I look forward to going to school." Each item was rated on a 3-point continuum from 1 (a lot like me) to 3 (not like me). A principal components factor analysis witb varimax rotation supported the three hypothesized components. After six items were recoded to range from "not like me" to "a lot like me," items were summed to range from low to high sense of coherence at school. Tbe reliability coeflicient for the scale was.66 and the mean scale value for respondents was with a standard deviation of The risk factor, perceptions of school danger, was assessed by a single item tbat asked students bow often tbey were afraid tbat someone would hurt or botber them at school. Three response categories were provided: never, sometimes, and often. Nearly two-thirds of the students (65.1%) indicated that they were never afraid at school. Because only 4.7% of the students reported that they were often afraid at school, often was combined with sometimes to create a dichotomous variable: 1 "never afraid" and 2 "sometimes or often afraid." The protective factor, teacher support, was assessed by nine state-

8 280 CHILD AND ADOLESCENT SOCIAL WORK JOURNAL ments that describe various feelings that students may have about teachers at school (e.g., "My teachers really care about me," "I get along well with my teachers," "My teachers care whether or not I come to school," "I receive a lot of encouragement from my teachers"). All statements reflected a positive orientation and students responded to each as true or false. True responses were counted to create a summary scale ranging from 0 to 9. The reliability coefficient for the scale was.86 and the mean scale value for respondents was 6.74 with a standard deviation of Because of its highly skewed distribution (Skewness = -1.03), and to better examine its {wtential buffering role in the relationship between school danger and the sense of school coherence, teacher support was coded into a categorical variable with three ordinal values: low support (21.1%), moderate support (43.0%) and high support (35.9%). Four single-item variables were included as covariates in the analysis: gender (female, male), racial/ethnic group identification (white, nonwhite), grade level (middle school, high school), and receipt of free or reduced price school lunch (no, yes). Consistent with the work of Bowen and Chapman (1996), the receipt of school lunch was used as a proxy indicator of lower family socioeconomic level. Related research on school failure and variables that capture the level of psychological investment or engagement that students experience at school suggests that these profile characteristics may be associated with variation in the dependent variable. From this research, it would be expected that females, whites, middle school students, and students from higher socioeconomic households would report a higher sense of school coherence (cf. Richman & Bowen, 1997; Steinberg, 1996). Data Analysis An analysis of covariance model was specified for purposes of examining the compensatory versus the immunity hypothesis. Both school danger and teacher support were entered as main effects in a test of the compensatory hypothesis, and a two-way interaction was examined between these effects in a test of the immunity hypothesis, (jender, racial/ethnic group identification, grade level, and receipt of free or reduced price school lunch were each coded as dummy variables (0,1) and entered as covariates in the model. The main objective of the analysis was to examine the direct (additive) and interactive effects of school danger and teacher support on variation in the criterion vari-

9 G. L. BOWEN, J. M. RICHMAN, A. BREWSTER, AND N. BOWEN 281 able, while removing the variation in the sense of school coherence that is explained by the demographic controls. A classical experimental approach was used for decomposing sums of squares. From this approach, effects within each type (covariates, main effects, and interactions) are adjusted for all other effects of that tjtje as well as for preceding types of effects in the model. A.05 level significance level was set for interpreting findings from the analysis. Results No support was found for the immunity hypothesis that teacher support would moderate the hypothesized negative effect of school danger on tbe sense of coberence tbat students experience at school (p >.05). The findings did offer supfwrt for the compensatory effects model. School danger and teacher support had an additive and direct effect on variation in tbe criterion variable, F(l, 592) = 16.65, p<.05 and F(2, 592) = 37.44, p.<.05 respectively. As expected, the sense of school coherence declined as perceptions of scbool danger went from never (M = 20.22) to sometimes or often (M = 19.02). On the other band, the sense of scbool coberence increased as perceptions of teacher support increased from low (M = 17.75) to moderate (M = 19.99) to high (M = 20.78). Of these two main effects, teacher suppwrt exerted greater influence in the model than school danger. Effect sizes as reflected by Eta-square were.024 for school danger and.108 for teacher support. Of the four covariates that were entered into the model as control variables, only one was significantly related to variation in the criterion variable: receipt of school lunch. Students who received free or reduced price school lunch (M = 20.10) reported a higher mean level of coberence at scbool than their counterparts (M = 19.37), F(l,592) = 7.53, p <.05. Overall, the model explained 14.78% of the variance in sense of school coherence, F(9, 592) = 11.41, p =.05. Discussion In support of a compensatory model of risk and resiliency, the findings suggest that the sense of coherence that students experience at school is promoted in situations in wbich they perceive their school as safe and their teachers as supportive. These findings are consistent

10 282 CHILD AND ADOLESCENT SOCIAL WORK JOURNAL TABLE 1 Direct and Interactive Effects of School Danger and Teacher Support on Variation in the Level of Sense of School Coherence Source of Variation Sum of Squares DF Mean Square F Covariates Gender (1 = male) Race/ethnic (1 = nonwhite) Grade level (1 = high school) School lunch (1 = yes) Main Effects School danger Teacher support 2-Way Interactions School danger x teacher support Explained Residual Total * 31.47* 16.65* 37.44* * *p <.05 with earlier research, particularly the important role that teachers play as sources of support in "shifting the balance between risk and protective factors in the lives of at-risk students: teachers who communicate through their actions a sense of caring, respect, and appreciation for their students. This support may be especially important for those students who have difficulty accessing alternative sources of support from adults in their lives, particularly students growing up in poor urban neighborhoods that are filled with damger, hopelessness, and despair (Wang, Haertel, & Walberg, 1994; Wilson, 1987). Students who were receiving free or reduced price school lunch (a proxy variable for low socioeconomic status) reported a higher sense of coherence at school than their counterparts who did not receive free or reduced price school lunch. While this finding was unexpected and may appear counterintuitive at first, students from families who lack economic resources are more likely than students from more eco-

11 G. L. BOWEN, J. M. RICHMAN, A. BREWSTER, AND N. BOWEN 283 nomically secure families to live in neighborhoods, especially those in urban areas, that are more precarious and plagued by despair and lack of social connection. For these students, school becomes potentially a more meaningful and manageable experience in contrast to the conditions that they experience outside the school environment. Children may compensate for negative circumstances in one microsystem by seeking greater support and meaning from other microsystems. Additional research is needed to identify the variables tbat may mediate the relationship between the economic status of the family and the sense of coherence that students experience at school. Antonovsky (1991) suggests tbat coherence is promoted in environments tbat provide individuals with three types of experiences over time: stability (a sense of security and predictability), load balance (tbe fit between environmental demands and available resources, including tbe capabilities and competencies of individuals as defined in part by tbeir developmental level), and participation (opportunities to contribute to and participate in valued ways in their social world). Although Antonovsky's work was not focused on schools or at-risk students, his suggestions about tbe types of experiences that promote coherence has rich implications for interventions in the public schools. First, schools must develop mechanisms that reduce chaos and increase the level of security and safety for students. Students can only attend to bigb-order tasks, such as learning, when lowerorder needs, like safety, are ensured. Teacbers and school personnel may need instruction in bow to create a safer school environment, including strategies for conflict resolution and skills in recognizing and reacting appropriately to situations that threaten the safety and well-being of students. Smaller classes and smaller schools overall may assist in creating a safer and more stable environment for students (Ascber, 1994; Garbarino, 1995). Second, students must be involved in finding solutions to the problems that affect them. Too often students are not \newed as stakeholders in the change process. Students need to be involved with school administrators, teachers, community members, and parents in designing interventions to increase safety at scbool and in promoting a supportive envirofiment at bothiiome and school for learning and development. Promoting the level of coherence that students experience in the school environment is concerned with developing, supporting, and maintaining safe and caring school environments in which students can participate fully and experience acceptance and belonging. The present analysis was restricted to a sample of students who had been identified as at risk of school failure in tbe states of Florida

12 284 CHILD AND ADOLESCENT SOCIAL WORK JOURNAL and North Carolina. As a consequence, caution should be exercised in attempts to generalize these findings to other adolescent populations. Yet, the results from this analysis offer a provocative soiu^ce of expectations for guiding future research with more diverse adolescent population groups. In support of the operation of a compensatory model of risk and resiliency in the present research, the testing of multivariate models in future research that hypothesize additive or cumulative effects among risk and protective factors may most contribute to our understanding of variations in the sense of coherence that students experience at school. Although a cross-sectional survey design was used in this study, longitudinal research is needed that provides a means to understand better the role and sequencing of risk and protective factors in adolescence, especially the operation of these factors within different socioeconomic strata. In addition, it is recommended that further efforts be directed to examining the validity and reliability of the sense of school coherence measure, including its examination as a predictor of school behavior and performance. This cognitive and motivational dimension is likely to be a key mediator in the relationship between risk and protective factors in the social environment and school-related outcomes for students. References Ascher, C. (1994). Gaining control of violence in the schooh: A view from the field. Washington, DC: Center for the Revitalization of Urban Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED ) Antonovsky, A. (1979). Health, stre.s.s, and coping. San Francisco; Jossey-Bass. Antonovsky, A. (1987). Unraveling the mystery of health: How people manage stres.i and stay well. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Antonovsky, A. (1991). The structural sources of salutogenic strengths. In C. L. Cooper & R. Payne (Eds.), Personality and stress: Individual differences in the stress process (pp ). Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Benard, B. (1991). Fostering resiliency in kids: Protective factors in the family,.school, and community. Portland, OR: Western Center for Drug-Free Schools and Communities. Bogenschneider, K. (1996). An ecological risk/protective theory for building prevention programs, policies, and community capacity to support youth. Family Relations, 45, Bowen, G. L., & Chapman, M. V. (1996). Poverty, neighborhood danger, social support, and the individual adaptation among at-risk youth in urban areas. Journal of Family h.sues, 17, Bowen, G. L., & Richman, J. M. (1995). The school success profile. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

13 G. L. BOWEN, J. M. RICHMAN, A. BREWSTER, AND N. BOWEN 285 Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Clark, M. L. (1991). Social identity, peer relations, and academic competence of African-American adolescents. Education and Urban Society, 24, Furstenberg, F F., & Hughes, M. E. (1995). Social capital and successful development among at-risk youth. JourncU of Marriage and the Family, 57, Garbarino, J. (1992). Children and families in the social environment (2nd ed). New York: Aldine de Gruyter. Garbarino, J. (1995). Raising children in a socially toxic enviroriment. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Garbarino, J., Dubrow, N., Kostelny, K., Pardo, C. (1992). Children in danger: Coping with the consequences of community violence. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Garmezy. N., Masten, A. S., & Tellegen, A. (1984). The study of stress and competence in children: A building block for developmental psychopathology. Child Development, 55, 97-JH. Gardner, D. (1995). Improving our schools 1995: The first annual report of student and parent perspectives on Broward's public schools. Fort I^auderdale, FL: Broward County School Board. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED ) Gilgun, J. F. (1996). Human development and adversity in ecological perspective. Part 1: A conceptual framework. Families In Society: The Journal of Contemporary Human Services, 77, Kirby, L. D., & Fraser, M. W. (1997). Risk and resilience in childhood. In M. W. Fraser (Ed.), Risk and resiliency in childhood: An ecological perspective (pp ). Wa.shington, DC: NASW Press. Louis Harris and Associates Inc. (1994). The American teacher, New York: Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. (EKIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED ). Mikow, V. A. (1994). Selected indicators of adolescent violence and.safety at school. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina State Department of Public Instruction. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED ) National Center for Education Statistics (1994). Crime in the schools: Indicator of the month (Report No. NCES ). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. National Center for Education Statistics (1995). Student.strategies to avoid harm at school (Report No. NCES ). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. Richman, J. M., & Bowen, G. L. (1997). School failure: An eco-interactional-developmental perspective. In M. W. Fraser (Ed.), Risk and resiliency in childhood: An ecological perspectioe.(pp ) Washington, DC: NASW Press. Rumberger, R. W. (1987). High school dropouts: A review of issues and evidence. Review of Educational Research, 57(2), Rutter, M. (1979). Protective factors in children's responses to stress and disadvantage. In M. W. Kent & J. E. Rolf (Eds.), Primary prevention of psychopathology (Vol. 3, pp ). Hanover, NH: University Press of New England. Rutter, M. (1983). Statistical and personal interactions: Facets and perspectives. In D. Magnusson & V.L. Allen (Eds.), Human development: An interactional perspective (pp ). New York: Academic Press. Scales, P. C, & Gibbons, J. L. (1996). Extended family members and unrelated adults in the lives of young adolescents: A research agenda. Journal of Early Adolescence, 16, Singer, M. I., Anglin, T, M., Song, L. Y, & Lunghofer, L. (1995). Adolescents' exposure to violence and associated symptoms of psychological trauma. Journal of the American Medical Association, 273, Steinberg, L. (1996). Beyond the classroom. New York: Simon & Schuster. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (1996). Trends in the well-being of

14 286 CHILD AND ADOLESCENT SOCIAL WORK JOURNAL America's children ami youth: Washington, DC: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. Wang, M. C, Haertel, G. D., & Walberg, H. J. (1994). Educational resilience in inner cities. In M. C. Wang & E. W. Gordon (Eds.), Educational resilience in inner city America: Challenges and prospects (pp ). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Werner, E. E. (1990). Protective factors and individual resilience. In S. J. Meisels & J. P. Shonkoff (Eds.), Handbook of early intervention (pp ). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. Wilson, W. J. (1987). The truly disadvantaged: The inner city, the underclass, and public policy. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. APPENDIX Sense of School Coherence Scale How well do each of the following statements describe you?" a. When 1 talk to teachers or other students, I have the feeling they don't understand me. h. I find.school fun and exciting.* c. 1 look forward to learning new things at school.* d. 1 often feel unsure of myself at school. e. When there are problems at school, I always know what to do.* f. I look forward to going to school.* g. I often feel mixed-up and confused while at school. h. When something happens at school, I can generally figure the situation out.* i. I am able to overcome difficulties at school.* Eigenvalue Percentage of Variation Factor 1 Factor 2 Factor 3 Meaningfulness Manageability Comprehensibility 'A three-point response continuum was provided: 1 "a lot like me," 2 "a little like me," and 3 "not like me." *Reverse coded for purposes of analysis.

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