Children who attend schools with high suspension rates are significantly more likely to be arrested and jailed as adults – especially Black and Hispanic boys – according to new research that shines a spotlight on the school-to-prison pipeline.
Data have long shown that Black and Hispanic students experience suspension and expulsion at much higher rates than white students, and that as adults, they're also disproportionately represented in the county's prison system. And while research shows a correlation between high levels of education and low levels of criminal activity, there exists little evidence on the role that individual schools can play in their students' future.
Researchers from Boston University, the University of Colorado Boulder and Harvard University sought to find whether a causal link exists between students who experience strict school discipline and being arrested or incarcerated as an adult, and whether attending a stricter school influences criminal activity in adulthood.
"Our findings show that early censure of school misbehavior causes increases in adult crime – that there is, in fact, a school-to-prison pipeline," the researchers wrote in an article published Tuesday in Education Next. "Any effort to maintain safe and orderly school climates must take into account the clear and negative consequences of exclusionary discipline practices for young students, and especially young students of color, which last well into adulthood."