A study from the University of Michigan finds elementary school discipline policies that rely on expulsions or suspensions may be creating childhood inequality, affecting black children more than their peers.
Research cites the policies are not rare but can unfairly impact black children due to a school's difference in how it deals with behavior problems rather than addressing the differences in behavior problems.
"More disadvantaged schools should be provided resources and training to use more inclusive disciplinary practices," said UM sociology and social work doctoral student Garrett Pace.
Factors such as family instability, teacher bias and likely situations outside of the student's control, not only contribute to them having problems at school but places them at risk for expulsion and suspension.
According to the study, "about 40 percent of African-American boys were suspended or expelled, compared to eight percent of white boys or from other ethnic groups." These inequalities are primarily due to differences in the children's school and family characteristics rather than to behavior problems, says Pace.
The study also found students who were expelled or suspended, showed more aggressive behavior such as fighting, after they were disciplined than they did before the disciplinary action.
The study was not able to pinpoint the exact cause of the increased anger, but it could be the student's "response to negative emotions, which may become amplified if the discipline causes the student to fall behind in school or introduces stress at home because the parent's work schedules are disrupted."
The study did not explore the role parents play in promoting their children's good school behavior.