Abstract: Examination of the Nexus Among Teacher Discrimination, Parents' and Peer Emotional Supports, and African American Youth's School Bonding (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

Examination of the Nexus Among Teacher Discrimination, Parents' and Peer Emotional Supports, and African American Youth's School Bonding

Sunday, January 19, 2020
Marquis BR Salong 13, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Eric Kyere, PhD, Assistant Professor, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN
Isaac Karikari, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND
Background: Drawing on research that underscores the benefits of emotional support to school bonding, and the abysmal educational experiences of African American youth, this study examined the associations among teacher discrimination, parents’ and peer emotional support, and African American youth school bonding. Grounded in the ecological perspective and  complemented by social support theory and racial-ethnic socialization, our contention is that given the well-known differential treatment of African American youth by teachers, and the limited social work-teacher engagement,  there is lack of consistency of emotional support across the key proximal contexts (parent-child, teacher-student, and peer interactions) shaping youth school bonding. Our research concerns were therefore to examine the nature of these associations and in the process, investigate any potential mediating effects that parents and peer emotional support have on the link between teacher discrimination and black youth’s school bonding.

Methods: Participants are drawn from the National Survey of American Life-Adolescent Supplement (NASL-A, N =1170). African American only sample (n=810, mean age =13, 52 percent females) was used for the current study. We used hierarchical regression modeling to examine the associations among teacher discrimination, parents, and peer emotional supports and black youth’s school bonding controlling for family income, neighborhood factors, and youth’s academic performance (GPA) and gender.  

Results: Correlation analysis reveal significant associations among the study’s variables in uncontrolled conditions. Further, results show that at baseline, teacher discrimination was negatively associated with youth’s school bonding (B = -.123, p<.001). Moreover, we also observed  that independent of each other and controlling for teacher discrimination and the covariates, mother, father, and peer emotional supports were positively associated with school bonding (B = .141, p<.001; B = .049, p<.01; B = . 036, p<.10 respectively). In the final model, although reduced, the negative effects of teacher discrimination on youth school bonding remained significant independent of covariates as well as other key predictors in the model (B =  -.075, p<.001).

Conclusion: Results show that independent of teacher discrimination and sociodemographic factors, emotional support from mother, father, and peers each contribute uniquely to black youth’s positive school bonding although mother’s emotional support demonstrates the strongest association with school bonding.  Further, in the context of racial discrimination, while these supports from parents and peers may reduce some of the negative impact of racial discrimination, they may not be enough to foster black youth’s school bonding. The implication is that any intervention that seeks to improve black youth’s school bonding needs to simultaneously target the quality of the interpersonal relationships that characterize the proximal contexts of parent-child interaction and student-teacher interactions as well as the peer relationships. Of particular importance is the need for social workers working with black youth and their families to pay attention to the racialized experiences of these youth and apply culturally relevant interventions that help to reduce prejudices on the part of teachers while fostering black youth’s school bonding. Implications for social work practice and research will be discussed.