Methods: Non-probability purposive sampling was used to recruit high school students (N=310) across eight different “inner-city” high schools. Students completed a survey on their perceptions and actions regarding school safety and resource use. To maximize internal validity, survey items were adapted from previous efforts to operationalize school safety, student behavior, and academic performance. Multiple regression analyses were used to explore the proportion of variance in outcomes attributable to racial diversity and indicators of exposure to school safety when controlling for key covariates. Both main and interaction effects were estimated to gauge an understanding of how relationships identified might be different based on nominal characteristics among the sample.
Results: Mentoring programs were significantly and positively associated with attendance rate (B=2.21; SE=.65; p<.05) and overall GPA (B=.22; SE=.06; p<.05) for all students in the sample. Second, engagement level in counseling was significantly and positively associated with overall GPA (B=.06; SE=.02; p<.05). While no main effects were found between mentoring and behavior, mentorship for African-American youth was negatively associated with self-report of maladaptive behavior (B=-.81; SE=.28; p<.05). Building on this, peer mediation was negatively associated with self-report levels of victimization for the African-American subsample (B=-1.15; SE=.59; p<.05), but not the overall sample. Finally, data suggest for African-American students, engagement in peer mediation is significantly and positively associated with attendance rate (B=1.89; SE=.71; p<.05).
Conclusion and Implications: Findings suggest interventions like peer mediation might be most effective for improving the academic experience for students in inner-city schools, particularly those of color. While African-American youth were nearly twice less likely to use peer mediation compared to their white counterparts, data suggest utilization of culturally responsive peer-centered interventions might positively impact attendance, academic achievement, social involvement and the overall academic experience for a student of color. The utilization of peer mediation likely creates a positive social environment that will motivate students in inner-city schools to create positive changes through social interaction and involvement. Implications for policy, education, and research will be discussed.