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ADOLESCENCE
BIOLOGY: BRAIN CHANGES
• Renewed blooming/pruning: increased
efficiency
• Increased integration between cortical and
subcortical areas = better coordination of
affect and thinking (by age 25)
• Increased risk-taking due to:
• Increased sensitivity to dopamine and more
efficient dopamine system = greater SALIENCE
of sensation
• Increase in oxytocin receptors
• Increased attention to faces, emotional expression,
social feedback (self-consciousness)
• May account for peer influence on risk-taking: “hot” vs.
“cold” cognition
BRAIN CHANGES: IMPLICATIONS
• Shortcomings of education and
scare tactics
• Limiting opportunity for poor
judgment to cause harm





Adult monitoring
Law enforcement
Raising driving age
Expand access to mental health services
Contraception
ERIKSON AND MARCIA
• Erikson: Identity vs. role diffusion
• Marcia:
• Identity diffusion: adrift, no commitment,
isolation, ineffectiveness
• Identity foreclosure: ready-made identity,
blind acceptance/rejection
• Identity moratorium: exploration, no
commitment, openness
• Identity achievement: comfortable with
abstract thought, advanced moral reasoning
IDENTITY FORMATION AND
PURPOSE IN LIFE: SPIRITUALITY
• Identity – who I hope to become
• Purpose – what I hope to accomplish
• Spirituality
• Existential purpose and meaning
• Connectedness to self, others, and the
Transcendent
• Kohlburg’s stage:
• Conventional 1 or 2 (probably)
• Postconventional 1(possibly)
SOCIAL FACTORS: FAMILY
• Importance of individuation
• Biologically driven (brain changes)
• Styles
• Functional: can I do things on my own? (Action)
• Attitudinal: personal set of values/beliefs (Selfawareness)
• Emotional: not running to mama (Feelings)
• Conflictual: comfort with being different from parents
• Cultural differences
• Failure to launch
• Student loans; credit card debt; low pay;
housing costs
• Permanent immaturity
BIOLOGY: SEXUALITY
 Puberty (girls 9-12), boys (10-19)
 Primary sexual characteristics (genitals,
reproductive paraphernalia).
 Secondary sexual characteristics (breasts, voice
change, etc.)
 Menarche, spermarche
 Sexuality
 Rape
 Decision-making
 Homosexuality
SEXUALITY, CONT’D
• When are they learning about sex?
• Who are they learning about sex from?
• Abstinence education
• Internet, cell phones
• You
• Talking about sexual issues
• Ready
• Willing
• Able
SEXUALITY (CONT’D)
• Heterosexuality vs. homosexuality vs. transgender
vs. transsexuality vs. intersex
• LGBTIQ continuum
• Erotic, romantic, affectionate attraction
Intersex video 8.5 mins: https://oii.org.au/18194/differences-intersextrans/?gclid=COGcpu_t59ICFQMfhgodlT0AAw
SEXUALITY, CONT’D
• Stigmatization; crisis of self-confidence
• Victimization, esp. Q youth (by both straights and
gays)
• Importance of parental support




Suicide – 8.4X the attempts
Serious depression – 5.9X
Drugs – 3.4X
Unprotected sex – 3.4X
Individuals who choose to obtain social work
degrees and call themselves social workers
have a duty to uphold the profession’s core
values. As the Code of Ethics states, “Social
workers should uphold and advance the
values, ethics, knowledge, and mission of the
profession. (standard 5.01[b]). (Reamer, 2013)
Social workers should not practice,
condone, facilitate, or collaborate with
any form of discrimination on the basis of
race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex,
sexual orientation, gender identity or
expression, age, marital status, political
belief, religion, immigration status, or
mental or physical disability. (NASW, 2008,
standard 4.02)
Remember, when you judge
another, you do not define them;
you define yourself as someone
who needs to judge. The same
applies to judgments directed at
you.
Wayne Dwyer
CHALLENGES: SUBSTANCE ABUSE
• Continuum – experimentation – dependency
• Prevalence
• Alcohol – 90% (experiment); 26% past month
• Marijuana – 7% (past year)
• Consequences
• Biological (neurological, immune system, HIV and other
STDs, hepatitis, heart inflammation)
• Psychological/cognitive
• Social (sexual activity; slowed emotional development)
• Why use? – fun, adult, anxiety, boredom
CHALLENGES: DELINQUENCY
• Delinquency vs. Crime
• Prevalence
• 26% of all property arrests
• 16% of all violent crimes
• African Americans (33% and 52%,
respectively)
• Gangs – 49% Hispanic, 35% African
American
• Crime as a symptom
CHALLENGES: DEPRESSION/SUICIDE
• Prevalence:
• 8% Major Depressive Disorder (28%, sad and
hopeless)
• 8% to 25% attempt suicide
• Girls vs. boys
• Twice as likely to be diagnosed with MDD
(but under diagnosed in boys)
• Body image
• Reality of female status
• GLBT vs. Straight




Twice as likely to attempt suicide
Importance of family connectedness
Adult caring
School safety
• What to do
CHALLENGES: HEALTH
• Death
• Accidents (impulsivity)
• Homicide (esp. African Americans)
• Suicide (esp. GLBT)
• Obesity – 17% overweight
• Anorexia/bulimia
• Almost ½ of girls and ¼ of boys seriously
hate their bodies
• Influence of media
• Parental role-modeling, criticism
• Peer bullying
HOW TO HELP THEM
• Start where the client is
• Be aware of maturity level
• Problem of authority
• Openness to questions about sex and sexuality
• Importance of macro work
Videos and Reading for
Module 7
ADOLESCENCE
Brain Changes and Teenage
Behavior
• Dan Siegel: The Purpose of the Teenage Brain
• https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gw9GrgNcYcg
• Daniel Siegel: Why Teens Seek Novelty and Danger
• https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGcFqzZYJxQ
• Daniel Siegel: Why Teens Turn from Parents to Peers
• https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thxlUme7Pc8
Teen Substance Abuse
Listen
• The Neuroscience of Addiction; Interview with Judith Grisel
• Fresh Air Weekend, February 16, 2019 (NPR)
• Begin at 35 min. (last 19 min)
• https://www.npr.org/2019/02/16/694733799/fresh-air-weekendwildlife-dynasties-the-neuroscience-of-addiction
• How Schools Are Funneling Certain Students Into The Prison System|
School
to
Prison
Pipeline
Watch
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9Wyc85x38o
• Read
• School Suspensions: Pros, Cons, and Ways to Improve
• https://wehavekids.com/education/School-Suspensions-Pros-Cons-and-Ways-toImprove
• Read:
• The School-to-Prison Pipeline: A Primer for Social Workers
• Susan McCarter
• Social Work, Volume 62, Issue 1, 1 January 2017, Pages 53–61,
https://doi.org/10.1093/sw/sww078
Identity vs Despair
• Study Looks at Teen Suicide and Social Media • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jy3d8Zkchak
Identity vs Despair
• Andrew Solomon: How the worst moments in our
lives make us who we are
• Monica Lewinsky’s favorite TED Talks to help prevent bullying | TED …

https://blog.ted.com/monica-lewinskys-favorite-ted-talks-to-helpprevent-bullying/
The School-to-Prison Pipeline: A Primer
for Social Workers
Susan McCarter
The school-to-prison pipeline (STPP) refers to a path from the education system to the juvenile
or adult criminal justice system. Over the past two decades, this path has grown significantly,
and scholars attribute a myriad of contributing factors to this increase. Each factor has its
own impact and consequences, which are covered in detail based on an extensive literature
review and macro practice through Race Matters for Juvenile Justice. Prior to the STPP
concept, education had largely been considered a protective factor for children and a route
to success as opposed to a risk factor or track toward juvenile justice involvement. Staying in
school and getting good grades were regarded as strategies that even at-risk students could
use to overcome poverty, prejudice, and powerlessness. But since the 1990s, the approach
to discipline in U.S. public schools has changed, and the effects of this change are only now
becoming evident. This article explains the correlates of the STPP and its disparate outcomes, most notably for students of color; those with disabilities; and lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender, queer, and questioning students. The article concludes with implications for
social workers in various settings and specific strategies for reducing the impact of the STPP.
KEY WORDS: decarceration; juvenile justice; risk and resiliency; school discipline;
school-to-prison pipeline
I
n 1993, approximately 1.5 million students
were suspended; just four years later, in 1997,
this figure had more than doubled to 3.1 million
(about 7 percent of the U.S. public school population) (Raffaele Mendez, Knoff, & Ferron, 2002). A
2011 longitudinal study by the Council of State Governments (CSG) examined almost 1 million students
and found that 54 percent of students were suspended or expelled at least once between their seventh and 12th grade years (Fabelo et al., 2011).
According to public data available from the U.S.
Department of Education’s (ED’s) Office for Civil
Rights (OCR), more than 3 million U.S. public
school students were suspended at least once in the
course of the 2011–2012 academic year. And even
just one suspension increases students’ likelihood of
repeating a grade, dropping out, and coming into
contact with the juvenile justice system (Losen, Hewitt, & Toldson, 2014).
LITERATURE REVIEW
Rates of juvenile crime peaked in the United States in
the 1990s (Sickmund & Puzzanchera, 2014). This
decade was followed by a number of episodes of
school violence and shootings (for example, Littleton,
doi: 10.1093/sw/sww078
© 2016 National Association of Social Workers
Colorado, 1999 and 2010; Red Lake, Minnesota,
2005; Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, 2008), and several
state legislatures responded by implementing metal
detectors, surveillance cameras, school resource officers (SROs), exclusionary discipline practices, and
zero tolerance policies in their schools (Cloud,
1999; Monahan, VanDerhei, Bechtold, & Cauffman, 2014; Torbert & Szymanski, 1998). The
number of public schools requiring students to pass
through metal detectors daily more than doubled
between the 2003–2004 school year and the 2011–
2012 school year (ED, 2013). Similarly, 23.6 percent of public schools in 2003–2004 used random
dog sniffs to check for drugs, as compared with
57.3 percent in the 2011–2012 school year, and the
use of security cameras to monitor the schools
increased from 32.5 percent in 2003–2004 to 81.2
percent in 2011–2012 (ED, 2013). Following the
late 1990s, attention was also focused at the federal
level on the achievement gap, and in 2001 the No
Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) (P.L. 107-110)
went into effect with the central goal of improving
academic outcomes for disadvantaged students. This
goal was to be achieved by assessment, accountability,
and reform. During this same time, U.S. public schools
53
experienced expanded high-stakes testing (Gregory,
Skiba, & Noguera, 2010), inadequate resources and
overcrowding (Skiba et al., 2014), an increasingly
diverse and complex student body (Losen, 2011),
and focused teacher preparation (more specialized
academic subject matter with less attention to classroom management, discipline, and cultural competence) (Gregory, Bell, & Pollock, 2014).
Keeping students, teachers, and staff safe while at
school is paramount and when safety or the productive learning environs are compromised, action
should be taken swiftly and justly (ED, 2013).
Moreover, school discipline should be based on
legal factors (for example, type of offense, student
behavior) versus extralegal factors (for example,
race or ethnicity, gender, disability status) (McCarter,
2009), and punishments should be commensurate with
the offense and levied equitably (Losen et al., 2014). So
how does the school-to-prison pipeline (STPP) operate and what can social workers do to better understand and address it?
THE STPP BEGINS WITH SCHOOL-BASED
OFFENSES
School-based offenses are incidents that occur on
school property (including buses) and at schoolsponsored events (including athletics) or in which
the school is the intended or actual victim (for
example, bomb threat) (Annie E. Casey Foundation, n.d.). These offenses range in severity, and
many states require mandatory reporting for specific school-based misconduct. North Carolina, for
example, passed the Safe Schools Act in 1993
requiring local educational agencies to report 16 acts of
crime and violence immediately to law enforcement
and to the State Board of Education (Department of
Public Instruction, State Board of Education, Public
Schools of North Carolina, 2015). Although many of
the 16 are serious behaviors, they are relatively rare,
comprising about 3 percent of all school-based offenses.
The vast majority of school-based offenses (about 97
percent) are not mandatorily reported acts but instead
tend to fall into one of five categories: (1) disrespect
or insubordination, (2) affray, (3) disruptive behavior and disorderly conduct, (4) communicating
threats, and (5) petit larceny (Fabelo et al., 2011).
without consideration of offense severity, mitigating circumstances, or context (American Psychological Association [APA] Zero Tolerance Task
Force, 2008). Implementation of zero tolerance
began in the early 1990s and was intended to demonstrate an unequivocal stance regarding violence
and drug use on school property (Monahan et al.,
2014). Despite the absence of evidence to suggest
that they are effective in reducing school-based
offenses (González, 2012; Teske, Huff, & Graves,
2012), approximately 94 percent of U.S. public
schools have adopted zero tolerance policies (Skiba
et al., 2011), with profound impact. In 1995, after
implementing zero tolerance for several offenses in
Chicago, the number of expulsions increased from
81 to 1,000 by 1998 (Skiba, 2013). In 2006, APA
convened a taskforce to examine the effects of zero
tolerance policies, and it determined that although
suspending students using zero tolerance was designed to improve school safety, the number of
problem behaviors and dropouts actually increased
(APA Zero Tolerance Task Force, 2008; Hirschfield,
2008).
High-Stakes Testing
High-stakes testing is the reliance on standardized
testing to determine school accountability (Amrein
& Berliner, 2002). Student test results are often connected to rewards or consequences for schools and
teachers. The Advancement Project (2010) suggests
that NCLB and high-stakes testing too narrowly
define educational success, often removing underperforming students because they lower the aggregate scores and weaken the curricula by overfocusing on test preparation, which in turn can lead to
student disengagement, alienation, and behavior
problems (Amrein & Berliner, 2002).
Exclusionary Discipline
Exclusionary discipline is defined as any discipline
strategy that excludes students from actual regular
instruction—such as in-school suspension (ISS), when
students are outside of the regular classroom; out-ofschool suspension (OSS); and expulsion (Losen, 2011).
Fabelo et al. (2011) reported that 54 percent of the
almost 1 million students in their study experienced
ISS, whereas 31 percent received OSS.
FACTORS AFFECTING THE STPP
“Zero Tolerance” Policies
Race and Ethnicity
Zero tolerance policies are those used to deliver a predetermined set of consequences, often punitive,
Classifications of race and ethnicity vary, but scholars
agree that students of color are disproportionately
54
Social Work Volume 62, Number 1 January 2017
represented in school discipline statistics. According
to Aud and Fox’s (2010) study, 43 percent of Black
students in grades 6 through 12 experienced suspensions compared with 22 percent Hispanic students
and 16 percent White students. Losen and Martinez
(2013) found that suspension rates for White children have increased 1.1 percentage points (from 6
percent to 7.1 percent) from 1972–1973 to 2009–
2010, whereas suspensions during the same period
for Latino students almost doubled (from 6.1 percent
to 12 percent), and the rates for African American
children increased 12.5 percentage points (from 11.8
percent to 24.3 percent). The suspension gap
between White and African American students was
5.7 points in the 1970s and is now more than 17
points (Losen & Martinez, 2013). CSG’s 2011 study
in Texas (Fabelo et al., 2011) found that 83 percent
of African American male students had at least one
discretionary violation, compared with 74 percent
for Latino male students and 59 percent for White
male students. Multivariate analyses allowed the researchers to control for 83 variables and isolate the
effect of race on disciplinary action. With all other
factors (for example, same sex, family income,
offense type) being equal, African American students
had a 31 percent higher likelihood of school discretionary action compared with otherwise identical
students (Fabelo et al., 2011).
behavioral problems or engagement in illegal activity
(Himmelstein & Brückner, 2011). Russell et al. (2013)
found that LGBTQ students experience higher instances of exclusionary school discipline for violating
gender norms and are often bullied and retaliate toward
their aggressors.
Socioeconomic Status (SES)
SES plays a role in the STPP, as data suggest students enrolled in free and reduced-price school
lunch programs are also at greater risk of being suspended than their wealthier peers (Verdugo & Glenn,
2006). However, Skiba et al.’s (2002) results contend
that the effects of SES are much less robust than those
of race and gender.
Disability and Mental Health
Students diagnosed with a disability are also at
greater risk of exclusionary discipline (Fabelo et al.,
2011). Rausch (2006) found that students with disabilities were suspended twice as often and were
75 percent more likely to be expelled when compared with students without disabilities. Students
with emotional disabilities were over 10 times more
likely to be removed from school than students with
other types of disabilities, and Black students with
disabilities were approximately three times more likely
to be removed from school than other students with
disabilities (Rausch, 2006).
Sex
Sex refers to students’ biological sex, operationalized male or female. Skiba, Michael, Nardo, and
Peterson (2002) contended that boys are more
likely to receive school disciplinary actions than
girls. Male students are more likely to receive OSS
(63.5 percent) than female students (36.5 percent)
and even more likely to be expelled (78.6 percent
and 21.4 percent, respectively) (Fabelo et al., 2011).
School Climate
School climate refers to organizational factors that
affect the morale of a school, including leadership;
discipline; academics; and student, family, and community interactions (ED, 2014). The Consortium
on Chicago School Research suggested that school
climate and the quality of relationships do more to
create safe schools than do metal detectors or SROs
(Steinberg, Allensworth, & Johnson, 2011).
Sexual Orientation and Identity
A recent national study also suggests that lesbian,
gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) and
gender nonconforming students are overrepresented
in suspensions and expulsions (Kosciw, Greytak,
Bartkiewicz, Boesen, & Palmer, 2012). Sexual orientation and identity affect a student’s likelihood of
having to face school disciplinary action and subsequent justice system contact, as nonheterosexual
students were found in a national, longitudinal study
to be disproportionately suspended, expelled, and arrested—despite demonstrating no greater academic or
McCarter / The School-to-Prison Pipeline: A Primer for Social Workers
SROs
SROs are usually sworn police officers employed by
the local police department or school distric …
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