U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Unraveling the Neighborhood and School Effects on Youth Behavior

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2006
296 pages
This dissertation examined the separate and combined impacts of neighborhood and school social environments on the likelihood of delinquency, school dropout, and arrest.

The study found that although certain neighborhood structural factors did influence school organization (for example, poverty and residential stability), the social organization of schools did not imitate the social organization of the neighborhoods from which students came. One implication of this finding is that to the extent that schools influence the behavior of students, the school effects are independent of neighborhood factors. A second implication is that to produce better schools, it is not sufficient to attract "better" neighbors and rid the neighborhood of undesirable ones. Findings imply that active participation by parents and residents in the daily activities and administration of schools benefits the social organization of these schools. The study also found that one of the best ways to control student delinquency was to foster the academic engagement of students. Dropping out of school was a significant predictor of future arrest. A number of family, peer, and individual characteristics (notably IQ) were significantly linked to dropping out of school. Also, having a previous arrest was associated with dropping out of school. Data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods and the U.S. Census provided information on neighborhood context. Data from the Consortium on Chicago School Research describes the social context of the Chicago public schools. Arrest data were obtained from the Illinois State Police and the Chicago Police Department. 17 figures, 33 tables, 192 references, and appended survey items

Date Published: June 1, 2006