Being Real: The Student-Teacher Relationship and African-American Male Delinquency

Being Real: The Student-Teacher Relationship and African-American Male Delinquency

Being Real: The Student-Teacher Relationship and African-American Male Delinquency

Being Real: The Student-Teacher Relationship and African-American Male Delinquency

Excerpt

Over the past two decades many juvenile justice practitioners have expressed a desire to reduce the over representation of AfricanAmericans in the juvenile justice system. Nevertheless, the best way to accomplish this is likely to remain elusive until policy-makers understand how this over representation has been created and sustained.

While it is commonplace to identify factors behind delinquency, understanding how these factors operate is yet, unclear. This study explored the school context as an element in delinquency. School parallels the juvenile justice system in an over representation of African-Americans who do not fare well academically or behaviorally. This is significant because while poor academic performance is not an independent risk factor for delinquency (Famularo et al., 1992; Lawrence, 1985), it is a stronger predictor of delinquency than socioeconomic status and peer relations (Cernkovich & Giordano, 1992). On a larger scale, about 75 percent of all inmates are functionally illiterate (Smith, 1995). Such micro manifestations of structural failings began centuries ago. Yet, legally mandated desegregation (1968) was to have been the start of a better education for blacks. Indeed on paper, this appears to have been the case. Nevertheless, the present study reveals that many inner city teachers today seem just as perplexed about the ethnically different students before them as teachers in 1968. Shirley Brice-Heath's (1983) described the immediate post-desegregation anxieties this way:

A group of mill personnel who felt the need to know more
about how others communicated: why students and teachers
often could not understand each other, why questions were
sometimes not answered, and why habitual ways of talking
and listening did not always seem to work.…They brought a
central question: What were the effects of pre-school home
and community environments on the learning of those . . .

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