Date of Award

1998

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

William B. Bankston

Abstract

Recent years have seen extensive debate on the multitude of problems plaguing secondary education in the United States, and the problem of school crime and deviance is gaining a sizable share of the attention. A wave of school reform sometimes labeled the "restructuring" movement suggests that major organizational changes in schools, especially public schools, can positively affect student achievement and commitment to educational goals. Yet there has been practically no attention paid to the possible effects of restructuring on reducing delinquency in schools. I examine the impact of high school restructuring on school delinquency using a broad conception of delinquency that considers both minor and serious juvenile disorders within the school setting. My purpose here is to answer the following question: What are the effects of restructuring on school delinquency? The theoretical framework links concepts and variables drawn primarily from social bonding and social disorganization theories of juvenile delinquency to address this problem. The research design entails the secondary analysis of data on a sample of urban public high schools drawn from the 1990-92 High School Effectiveness Study (HSES). Summary census tract data from the 1990 Census of Population and Housing serve as proxies for the characteristics of the neighborhoods in which the high schools are located. Analyses based on HSES survey data from students in these schools show that the likelihood of engaging in delinquent behavior at school decreases as students' commitment to school increases. Across schools, the problem of juvenile delinquency is directly influenced by the level of socio-economic deprivation in the surrounding community. School restructuring neither mediates these effects, nor does it have an impact on the rate of school delinquency. Multilevel analyses using data on students and schools indicate that restructuring conditions the relationship between school commitment and student delinquency, indicating that in moderately restructured schools the importance of individual commitment for preventing delinquency is reduced. A final chapter discusses these findings, the limitations of the study, and directions for further research in this area.

ISBN

9780591904765

Pages

179

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