Race and Risk Behaviors: The Mediating Role of School Bonding.

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Graduate School of Social Work


Racial disparities, School bonding, Risk behaviors, Adolescents


This study tests the hypotheses that school bonding mediates the relationship between adolescents' racial background and key risk behaviors (substance use, failing grades, and fighting). Data sources include an epidemiological survey administered at 50 urban schools to 16,169 students, linked to information about school context (socioeconomic composition, attendance rate, and grade-level). Results indicate that school bonding partially mediates the relationship between race and risk behavior. Findings suggest that culturally responsive efforts to strengthen educational attachment, connection, commitment, and involvement among youth of color may reduce gaps in outcomes that are perceived to be distal from schooling. Further development and testing of multi-level interventions that increase school bonding among youth from non-dominant racial groups are needed.

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