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Severe Sanctions, Easy Choice?: Investigating the Role of School Sanctions in Preventing Adolescent Violent Offending

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: 50 Issue: 2 Dated: May 2012 Pages: 495-524
David Maimon; Olena Antonaccio; Michael T. French
Date Published
May 2012
30 pages
This study examined whether severe school sanctions against student misconduct prevent crime.
Although schools in the United States adopted harsher disciplinary policies in the early 1990s, to date, there is little evidence showing whether severe school sanctions against student misconduct prevent crime. Drawing on both deterrence and rational choice theories, the authors test the proposition that harsh school-based policies against violence reduce students' involvement in violent behavior. However, in contrast to prior research that explores the direct link between sanctions and student behavior, the authors emphasize the role of school sanctions in adolescent cognitive decisionmaking processes, hypothesizing that school sanctions against violence condition the effect of thoughtfully reflective decision making (TRDM) on adolescent involvement in violent behavior. The authors used data from the first two waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to test their research hypotheses. The results from a series of multilevel models show that more severe school sanctions against violence (i.e., home suspension and expulsion) disarm the process of cognitive reflection and attenuate the effect of low TRDM on violent offending. (Published Abstract)