It is commonly thought that young children react to social conflict using different standards than adults. DiMartino ( 1990) study refuted this myth, however. His study showed that areas of social conflict in this experiment included: (1) morality, (2) social convention, (3) safety, and (4) institutional rules.
The same premise may be applied to young African-American males, since all children basically precede through the same social developmental stages; however, some young African-American males appear to be at the highest risk for social development. Studies have shown that at-risk young African-American males attained the lowest average on academic achievement scores and were over-represented in categories such as retained students, school drop-outs, suspended and expelled students, and referral to special education. These findings confirm that young African-American males are at risk during the early elementary grades.
A significant number of young African-American males are educated in public schools located in urban communities, many of which do not provide good environments in which to educate these boys. Thus, a multitude of problems work against the boys receiving appropriate education. (1) The average young African-American male at risk lives with a single parent whose income is below or at the poverty level. This parent is frequently female. (2) Many young African-American males are exposed daily to violence and physical and drug abuse. (3) Many of the boys receive inadequate nutrition and health care. Combined, these factors contribute to many mental, social, and physical problems that impede successful academic and social development.
Holland ( 1989) summed up the plight of young African-American males by stating that drastic reforms must be made in urban education.