Findings: School Attachment

We were surprised that a great many studies have examined the association between attachment to school and violent behavior. We accepted a wide array of operationalizations of school bond that ranged from multiple item scales designed to measure attachment to school to indicators of school commitment or college aspirations.

Of 30 studies in this review reporting associations between violence and the school bond, 21 report a preponderance of findings that are in the expected direction and statistically significant. This resounding support is surprising in face of the knowledge that many of the operationalizations of the school bond appeared weak to us on first examination and the lack of sound theory linking low school attachment with violence per se. We found support in several important data sets such as the Seattle Social Development project data (Herrenkohl et al., 2003; Kosterman et al., 2001), Add Health (Bellair et al., 2003; Dornbusch, Erickson, Laird, & Wong, 2001) and the Canadian National Longitudinal Study of Children and Youth (Sprott, Jenkins, & Doob, 2005). The findings have been replicated fairly consistently when tested internationally; beneficial effects of attachment to school measures on violence have been reported in samples across the United States, London (Farrington & Loeber, 1999), Spain (Ochoa et al., 2008), Turkey (Ozbay & Ozcan, 2006, 2008), Switzerland (Ribeaud & Eisner, 2010), and Canada (Sprott Jenkins, & Doob, 2005). It was also the case that school attachment was very consistently associated with nonviolent-only offending (9 out of 12 of the PoCs were in the predicted direction, and statistically significant; all were in the predicted direction), so our dual-dependent variable evaluation was inconclusive.

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