Breaking Barriers 2: Plotting the Path Away From Juvenile Detention and Toward Academic Success for School-Age African American Males

by Ivory A. Toldson

Apr 1, 2011

A follow-up to Breaking Barriers, this report focuses on black male's overrepresentation in the juvenile justice system as a barrier to their academic success. Results from five studies reveal behaviors and conditions associated with reducing delinquency that lead to a number of policy implications.
  • Disciplinary referrals are more associated with negative attitudes and dispositions about school than delinquency at school. Furthermore, for black males (but not for white males), disengagement with school was a strong predictor of truancy.
  • Black males were the only racial group among whom high academic achievers reported experiencing bullying at the same rate as low achievers.
  • School administrators should take specific measures to secure restrooms and routes to school. However, they should carefully examine their use of metal detectors and security officers and the effect of these measures in enhancing a culture of violence and anxiety.
  • Among black youth detainees, family interaction and community activity improve grades. The same relationship has not been found for white youth detainees.
  • To reduce drug-related arrests, policymakers should emphasize peer and parent education programs, school reform, and social skills training. Friendships also play a crucial role in promoting character and success.