Abstract: Reducing Gendered-Racial Inequality Among Black Girls Impacted By School Suspension and Parent Incarceration (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

Reducing Gendered-Racial Inequality Among Black Girls Impacted By School Suspension and Parent Incarceration

Saturday, January 18, 2020
Independence BR A, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Sandra Jeter, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Houston, Houston, TX
Sujeeta Menon, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Houston, Houston, TX
Camille Quinn, PhD, AM, LCSW, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Background and Purpose:  Black girls are the fastest growing group in the juvenile justice (JJ) system. Official statistics report that Black girls constitute 14% of the national population yet disproportionately account for 33% of females arrested and committed into the JJ system. Involvement in the JJ system could increase vulnerabilities to adverse outcomes such as poor educational and occupational outcomes and early mortality, which for Black girls may be exacerbated by the intersection of race related historical trauma and gender- based violence and oppression. The objective of this study is to add to the limited body of research that examines the unique experiences of JJ involved Black girls, which may assist in the formulation of approaches to decrease the gendered-racial disproportionality in the schools and in the JJ system. Based on the Social Bonding theory, this study examines how parental incarceration and school suspension predicts juvenile delinquency among Black females. We hypothesize that both factors will increase the odds of Black girls’ involvement in the JJ system.  Methods: A secondary data analysis was conducted using the sixth wave of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing data, which was conducted between 1998-2000 and included 4,898 mothers. This sub-sample included all of the Black girls from the entire sample. Standard binary logistic regression was used to examine the predictors of two dichotomous factors; parental incarceration and school suspension/expulsion and the likelihood of JJ involvement among the sub-sample; Missing data was removed listwise (n=383). Parental incarceration was measured by whether a parent had ever been incarcerated, and student suspension and expulsion was measured by whether the participant had ever been suspended or expelled. The dichotomous outcome variable (JJ involvement) was measured by whether the participant had ever been arrested or taken into custody by the police. Results: The odds that the participants would be involved in the juvenile justice system were 6 times higher for those with incarcerated parents (p = .000), and 3.5 times higher for those with a history of school suspension/expulsion (p =.003). This model explained 5.9% to 14.3% of the variance in arrest/custody for this sample. Conclusion and Implications: The findings emphasize the need for holistic preventive intervention for Black girls for those who has been suspended/ expelled from school and had a parent incarcerated. Research that illuminates the needs of Black girls is critical to effective service provision with them, as it provides insight to better understand a more high- risk group and their needs. More research is needed to explore the interaction between the influence of neighborhood environment and absence of parental and school attachment and how this affects behavior in Black girls. Research is also needed to investigate the contribution of protective variables in predicting Black female delinquency. Lastly, researchers can conduct qualitative interviews in juvenile detention centers, schools, and in the community to further understand Black girls’ perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs as they relate to delinquency.