Severe Sanctions, Easy Choice? Investigating The Role Of School Sanctions In Preventing Adolescent Violent Offending

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20 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although schools in the United States adopted harsher disciplinary policies in the early 1990s, to date, there is little evidence showing whether severe school sanctions against student misconduct prevent crime. Drawing on both deterrence and rational choice theories, we test the proposition that harsh school-based policies against violence reduce students' involvement in violent behavior. However, in contrast to prior research that explores the direct link between sanctions and student behavior, we emphasize the role of school sanctions in adolescent cognitive decision-making processes, hypothesizing that school sanctions against violence condition the effect of thoughtfully reflective decision making (TRDM) on adolescent involvement in violent behavior. We use data from the first two waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to test our research hypotheses. The results from a series of multilevel models show that more severe school sanctions against violence (i.e., home suspension and expulsion) disarm the process of cognitive reflection and attenuate the effect of low TRDM on violent offending.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-524
Number of pages30
JournalCriminology
Volume50
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2012

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • School sanctions
  • Thoughtfully reflective decision making (TRDM)
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

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