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School Infractions for Minor Misbehavior in Adolescence: An Observational Study of Developmental Processes and Individual Differences

Amemiya, Jamie (2019) School Infractions for Minor Misbehavior in Adolescence: An Observational Study of Developmental Processes and Individual Differences. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Although minor misconduct is normative in adolescence, such misbehavior may be met with punishment in American schools. As part of a punitive disciplinary approach, teachers may give official disciplinary infractions for minor misconduct—i.e., a minor infraction—presumably to deter future problem behavior. This dissertation investigated four aims that challenged this deterrence assumption and considered the potentially detrimental effects of minor infractions: (1) Minor infractions do not deter, but rather increase defiant behavior, and such defiant behavior predicts subsequent minor infractions; (2) Minor infractions and defiant behavior uniquely contribute to worsened school adjustment; (3) Vulnerable adolescents with negative school attitudes are most sensitive to the effects of minor infractions; and (4) Minor infractions perpetuate inequality, as adolescents’ gender and racial background predict their receipt of and sensitivity to minor infractions. These hypotheses were tested with data from 729 adolescents’ school disciplinary records over one academic year, using longitudinal latent class analyses and multilevel models. Results indicated that minor infractions were reciprocally associated with greater defiant behavior. Notably, the link from minor infractions to defiant behavior was exacerbated for adolescents with initially high levels of emotional connection to school, whereas the link from defiant behavior to minor infractions was strengthened for adolescents with past histories of suspensions. Minor infractions and defiant behavior were both linked to worsened adjustment at school. Furthermore, African American adolescents received more minor infractions than White adolescents. Gender was less consistently linked to infractions, though there was evidence that males received more minor infractions than females. Findings are discussed in relation to American school discipline policies and persistent social inequalities in school discipline and the criminal justice system.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Amemiya, Jamiejaa141@pitt.edujaa1410000-0001-6946-4717
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairWang, Ming-Temtwang@pitt.edumtwang
Committee MemberVotruba-Drzal, Elizabethevotruba@pitt.eduevotruba
Committee MemberHuguley, Jameshuguley@pitt.eduhuguley
Committee MemberWright, Aidanaidan@pitt.eduaidan
Date: 20 June 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 26 February 2019
Approval Date: 20 June 2019
Submission Date: 4 March 2019
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 161
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: school discipline; adolescence; minor infractions
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2019 13:58
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2019 13:58


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