Method: Scoping reviews are exploratory and an appropriate approach when the purpose of a review is to identify knowledge gaps, clarify key concepts or theories, and define the scope of a body of literature. We followed Arksey and O’Malley’s (2003) method for conducting a scoping review, including five steps: 1) Identifying research question(s); 2) Literature search and identifying relevant studies; 3) Study screening; 4) Data charting; and 5) Summarizing results. The initial search was conducted with search phrases like “expulsion and suspension in [early childhood care and education; daycare; childcare]” and “discipline of Black children in [early childhood care and education; daycare; childcare]”, using five electronic databases: Education Source, ERIC, ProQuest, PsychInfo, and Sociological Abstracts. After duplicates were removed, we conducted abstract screening on 459 articles, and full text screening on 121 articles.
Results: Full text review yielded 39 articles related to disproportionate S&E of young Black children. Only six studies (all published since 2019) focused specifically on the disproportionate discipline of Black children ages five and under. In contrast, 12 articles on overall early childhood suspension and expulsion were published since 2017.
A majority of studies included samples of children in PreK-12 schools (n= 30) and several had samples ranging from either birth or Kindergarten to age nine. Most studies focused on the within- and between-school differences in disproportionate discipline, the role of student or teacher diversity, or child behaviors as impetus for discipline. There was strong evidence that race intersects with gender and disability status to put young Black boys with disabilities (particularly ADHD) at a much higher risk of S&E.
Conclusion: Results highlight the dearth of literature on disproportionate S&E among Black children in early childhood. Most of the evidence on disproportionate S&E among young Black children comes from samples of children from ages 4 to 18, which is problematic given the differing needs of children as they age. Before we can solve the problem of disproportionate S&E among young Black children, we need researchers to examine the mechanisms that lead to disparate disciplinary practices.