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The Relationship Between High School Sports Participation and Youth Violence

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: Jennifer L Smith
Abstract:
Youth violence is a serious problem in high schools throughout the United States. This study examined whether participation in high school sports serves as a protective factor against youth violence. As identified by the U.S. Surgeon General and many current research studies, school bonding is a significant protective factor for youth violence. School bonding is the building of connections between the student and the school institution, school staff and peers at school. This study used the basis of the social development model to inspect students' bonds to school through participation in high school sports programs. This quantitative study gathered data concerning high school students' sports participation, feelings of school bonding and violent behavior using the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey administered by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The independent variable was participation in high school sports while the dependent variables were self-reported school bonding and incidents of violent behaviors. T tests were used to measure the mean differences in reported levels of school bonding and incidents of violent behaviors for male and female athletes, and multiple regression analyzed the relationship between sports participation and school bonding. The results supported the social development model by indicating a relationship between school bonding and lower incidents of violent behavior; however, participation in high school sports had no relationship with lower violent behavior or school bonding. This research was designed to contribute to the current body of knowledge related to school bonding through interscholastic sports opportunities in an effort to assist schools in reducing violent behaviors in high schools.

i Table of Contents List of Tables ..................................................................................................................... iv

Section 1: Foundation of the Study ......................................................................................1

Background of the Study ...............................................................................................1

Problem Statement .........................................................................................................2

Nature of the Study ........................................................................................................4

Research Questions ........................................................................................................5

Hypotheses .....................................................................................................................5

Purpose of the Study ......................................................................................................6

Conceptual Framework ..................................................................................................7

Operational Definitions ..................................................................................................9

Scope and Limitations..................................................................................................10

Significance of the Study .............................................................................................11

Section 2: Literature Review .............................................................................................14

Introduction ..................................................................................................................14

Recent Studies ..............................................................................................................15

High School Environment..................................................................................... 15

Risk Factors .......................................................................................................... 18

Protective Factors.................................................................................................. 19

School Bonding ..................................................................................................... 20

High School Sports Participation .......................................................................... 21

Gender Differences ............................................................................................... 22

Literature Concerning Methodology............................................................................24

ii Implications for Social Change ....................................................................................25

Role of School in Development ............................................................................ 25

Relationship to Academics ................................................................................... 26

Existing Programs ................................................................................................. 27

Summary ......................................................................................................................28

Section 3: Research Design ...............................................................................................30

Introduction ..................................................................................................................30

Research Approach ......................................................................................................31

Setting and Sample ......................................................................................................32

Instrument ....................................................................................................................33

Data Collection ............................................................................................................34

Data Analysis ...............................................................................................................35

Hypotheses ...................................................................................................................36

Validity ........................................................................................................................37 Protection of Participants .............................................................................................37

Summary ......................................................................................................................38

Section 4: Results ...............................................................................................................40

Introduction ..................................................................................................................40

Descriptive Statistics ....................................................................................................41

Research Question 1 ....................................................................................................43

Research Question 2 ....................................................................................................45 Analysis of Carrying a Weapon to School ............................................................ 47

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Analysis of Fighting at School .............................................................................. 49 Summary of Question 2 ........................................................................................ 50

Research Question 3 ....................................................................................................51 Analysis of Carrying a Weapon to School ............................................................ 52

Analysis of Fighting at School .............................................................................. 53 Summary of Question 3 ........................................................................................ 54

Summary of Findings ...................................................................................................55

Section 5: Discussion and Implications .............................................................................59

Overview ......................................................................................................................59

Interpretations ..............................................................................................................59

Implications for Social Change ....................................................................................61

Recommended Action ..................................................................................................63

Recommendations for Further Study ...........................................................................67

Conclusions ..................................................................................................................68

References ..........................................................................................................................70

Appendix A: Boston, MA Codebook.................................................................................80

Appendix B: Dallas, TX Codebook .................................................................................119

Appendix C: CDC Passive Consent Form .......................................................................156

Curriculum Vitae .............................................................................................................157

iv List of Tables Table 1. Descriptive Statistics for Participation in Athletics, Gender, a nd School Bonding……………………………………………………………………………..42 Table 2. Descriptive Statistics for Self-Reports of Violent Behavior ............................... 43 Table 3. Self-Reports of Violent Behavior as a Function of Participation in At hletics .... 45 Table 4. Consstabulations of Participation in Athletics and School Bonding .................. 47 Table 5. Results from Moderated Multiple Regression Analysis with Carrying a Weapon to School as the Dependent Variable and School Bonding and Participation in Athletics as the Independent Variables ..................................................................... 49 Table 6. Results from Moderated Multiple Regression Analysis with Fighting at School as the Dependent Variable and School Bonding and Participation in Athletics as the Independent Variables .............................................................................................. 51 Table 7. Results from Moderated Multiple Regression Analysis with Carrying a Weapon to School as the Dependent Variable and Gender and Participation in Athletics as the Independent Variables......................................................................................... 53 Table 8. Results from Moderated Multiple Regression Analysis with Fighting at School as the Dependent Variable and Gender and Participation in Athletics as the Independent Variables .............................................................................................. 55

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Section 1: Foundation of the Study Background to the Study The United States Department of Health and Human Services issued a document commonly known as Healthy People 2010 that outlined the most significant threats to public health in the United States (U.S.DHHS, 2000). Healthy People 2010 established national health objectives and served as the basis for the development of state and community plans to improve quality of life. Among the 28 named areas of focus in the Healthy People 2010 initiative, one has particular relevance to public schools and the healthy development of adolescents–that is Goal 15-Injury and Violence Prevent ion (U.S.DHHS, 2000). Specifically, the document outlined the goals of the U.S. DHHS including reducing physical assaults, reducing fighting among teenagers , and reducing the number of weapons carried on school properties (U.S.DHHS, 2000).

Healthy People 2010 reflected the concern and desire for action regarding increasing adolescent violence in the United States (Calvert, 2002). More specif ically, the youth violence epidemic is evidenced in school settings. “School violence is at such disturbingly high levels that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C DC) has advocated thinking about such violence as a communicable disease” (Osborne, 2004, p. 147). The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2001) stated that the youth violence problem affects all communities – urban and rural, wealthy and poor. In 2009 the CDC conducted a national survey of students in Grades 9 through 12 that reported 11.1% of students had been in a physical fight at school in the 12 months preceding the survey, 5% did not go to school on one or more days in the 30 days preceding the survey

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because they felt unsafe and 5.6% reported carrying a weapon (gun, knife, or club) on school property on one or more days in the 30 days preceding the survey (U.S. DHHS, 2010). In 2000, violence resulted in injury for more than 400,000 teenagers (Lamberg, 2003). “During 2007-2009, no significant changes occurred in any of the behaviors that contribute to violence on school property” (U.S. DHHS, p. 32). These statistics repres ent not only the potential for physical harm but violence within schools that disrupts the learning environment creating an “atmosphere of physical intimidation lea ding to anxiety and loss of focus on academic tasks and normal school socialization processes” (Wrig ht & Fitzpatrick, 2006, p. 1436). To address these staggering statistics, and meet the goals of Healthy People 2010 , schools must implement programs health and safety programs (U.S. DHHS 2010). The CDC has developed and administered its Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) to monitor progress towards the Healthy People 2010 goals at the national, state and local levels (U.S. DHHS, 2010). Problem Statement School safety is a concern in high schools across this country. The problem, specifically, is violent behaviors among students in Grades 9 through 12 that disrupt and distract from a safe and orderly learning environment. Currently, the CDC described this problem as a “high-visibility, high-priority concern in every sector of U.S. soc iety” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001, para. 1). CDC data show alarmin g rates of student violence, including fights at school, students carrying weapons a nd students engaged in the bullying and/or threatening behavior (U.S.DHHS, 2001). This

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problem impacts high school students, their families and the communities at large because resources directed at preventing and controlling violent behaviors distr act from student achievement initiatives. Schools must enforce safety procedures while m anaging diminishing budgets and ensuring adequate yearly progress (AYP) of student achievement under the No Child Left Behind mandates (Fleming, et al., 2005). Many possible factors contribute to this problem, among which are a failure to identify programs that may be successful in deterring violent behaviors in students. The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) reported tha t high school interscholastic sports programs improve students’ attitudes towards school and self, minimize dropout rates, and minimize discipline problems (NFHS, 2007). Although there is substantial support for the benefits of participation in high school sports, sports programs are often viewed as nonessential elements of high school programming (McNeal, 1998). With such a view, sports programs are often the first programs cut from schools that face budgetary reductions (McNeal, 1998). Lemir e (2009) reported that “the declining national economy, not surprisingly, is casti ng an ominous pall over high school and recreational youth sports – even at some of the most successful programs” (p. 16). The most typical cuts in sports programs are fr eshman teams, travel opportunities, and staffing (Lemire, 2009). School leaders cut sports programs to focus funds on what are considered more essential programs (McNeal, 1998). The NFHS, however, argued that sports progra ms are “not a diversion but rather an extension of a good educational program” (NFHS, 2007). Research reported by Ward (2008) found that at the district level, academic

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performance was not affected by shifting portions of academic budgets to athl etic budgets. The educational value of athletics is not necessarily academic, but t here is value in the development of students through athletic opportunities. These benefits include emotional development, social development, citizenship, and community involvement (Ward, 2008). When sports programs are effective and show benefits for students and schools, they cannot be considered as unnecessary components of high school programming. Nature of the Study The sequential explanatory model for this study will begin with the quantitati ve analysis of local Youth Risk Behavior Surveys to determine the relationship betwe en sports participation, school bonding, and violent behavior. The research will compare the

responses of athletes and nonathletes regarding characteristics of sports participation that are related to the identified protective factors for youth violence. Further comparisons will examine subgroups of the identified athletes including male and female athl etes. The purpose of this study is to address the problem of school violence in urban, public schools by examining the relationship between athletic participation and viol ent behaviors. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) was administered in the spring o f 2009 in 41 states and in 20 cities. Only two local districts, Dallas, TX, and Boston, MA, used the complete YRBS including questions about sports participation, school bonding, and violent behaviors. The t test for independent samples will be used to compare the survey choices of athletes versus nonathletes in Boston and Dallas. A one-way ANOVA will be used to

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determine if a significant relationship exists. The surveys collected ca n be divided into two distinct sample groups: athletes and nonathletes. Looking at the responses to each survey questions, the t test will evaluate the mean difference between the two groups’ reports of violent behavior and school bonding. The ANOVA will be used to further examine the survey responses of male and female athletes. Research Questions 1.

Is there a significant relationship between participation in high school athletics and violent behavior of high school students in Dallas, TX, and/or Boston, MA? 2.

Is there a significant relationship between participation in high school athletics and self-reports of school bonding that could represent protective factors that have an impact on behavior of high school students in Dallas, TX, and/or Boston, MA? 3.

If a relationship exists, what effect does gender have on the statistical

relationship of male and female athletes and their reports of violent behaviors for high school students in Dallas, TX, and/or Boston, MA? Hypotheses This study will examine the relationship between participation in interschol astic high school sports (independent variable) and violent behaviors exhibited at school (dependent variable). The dependent variable of school bonding will be examined as well. Finally, using the independent variable of gender, this study will determine i f the

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relationship between athletic participation and violent behavior is different f or male and female athletes. H 0 1 The null hypothesis states that there is no significant relationship between sports participation and violent behavior exhibited at school; sports participation is not a protective factor and has no significant influence on high school students' violent behaviors. H a 1 The alternative hypothesis states that there is a significant rela tionship between high school sports participation and violent behavior; sports participation is a protective factor for, and has an influence on high school students' violent behaviors. H 0 2

The null hypothesis states that there is no significant difference between the levels of school bonding for athletes and nonathletes. H a 2

The alternative hypothesis states that there is a significant differe nce between the levels of school bonding for athletes and nonathletes. H o 3

The null hypothesis states there is no significant difference in the reporte d behaviors of male and female student athletes. H a 3

The alternative hypothesis states that there is a significant differe nce between the reported behaviors of male and female student athletes. Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this quantitative study is to contribute to the body of knowledge needed to address this problem by examining the relationship between student participation in athletic programs and violent behavior exhibited in an urban, public- school setting. “Few studies have focused on the connections between high school

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interscholastic sports and violence, despite compelling reasons for doing so” ( Kreager, 2007, p. 719). If a relationship exists between sports participation and reduced violent behavior, it could have a significant impact on the decisions school leaders make rela ted to sports offerings. Most schools face budget cuts yearly and have to make diff icult decisions on how to meet the instructional and developmental needs of their students with less money. If athletic programs are viewed as nonessential in the school day and the appropriate value is not placed on them, these programs may be cut from the school budget. Conceptual Framework The theoretical foundation for this study is the social development model (SDM). The SDM is a blend of three theories: control theory, social learning theory , and differential association theory (Choi, Harachi, Gillmore & Catalano, 2005). Contr ol theory, social learning theory and differential association theory all desc ribe the interactions between individuals and groups that work to form attachments or bonds. Maddox and Prinz (2003) stated that, “there is strong support emerging for the social

development model as an explanation of deviant behavior superior even to control theory” (p. 36). The SDM can be applied to children of all ages while social control theory focuses solely on adolescent behaviors (Maddox & Prinz, 2003). The SDM suggests a more specific process for the development of the bond (Brown, et al., 2006; Catalano, Haggerty, Oesterle, Fleming, & Hawkins, 2004). The SDM explains that individuals develop patterns of behavior and beliefs by a process of attachment to and commitment with units or groups. The SDM process begins with an

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opportunity for involvement, followed by actual involvement, development of skills for involvement and then a reward/recognition of involvement (Catalano et al., 2004). “When socializing processes are consistent, a social bond of attachment and comm itment develops between the individual and the people and activities of the socializing unit” (Catalano et al., 2004, p. 2). Once the attachment is made, the individual adopts beliefs and values that are consistent with the social beliefs – prosocial or antisocial – of the socializing group to which the person is bonded (Choi et al., 2005). According to the SDM, the risk of undesirable behaviors should be reduced by the encounters and associations that develop prosocial bonds (Herrenkohl, et al., 2003). “The social development model has shown promise in organizing predictors of problem behaviors” (Choi, et al., 2005, p. 505). Research shows that the SDM can predict antisocial behavior in elementary students and is a predictor of substance use and violence in adolescents (Choi et al., 2005). School bonding along with bonding to religious institutions, parents, and non- family adults has been shown to reduce the risk for antisocial behaviors (Herre nkohl, Hill, Chung, Guo, Abbott, & Hawkins, 2003). “School bonding plays a central role as one of the important prosocial domains that can inhibit antisocial behavior and promote positive development in childhood and adolescence” (Catalano et al., 2004, p. 2). The SDM also states the importance of peers in influencing an individual’s behavior, w hether social or antisocial (O’Donnell, Hawkins, & Abbott, 1995). Interscholastic athlet ic programs represent an opportunity for involvement in a prosocial group with structur e and supervision (Wright & Fitzpatrick, 2006). School based sports programs promote a

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bonding to school staff and students (Wright & Fitzpatrick, 2006). Broh (2002) reported that participation in interscholastic sports programs “promotes students’ devel opment and social ties among student, parents, and schools, and these benefits explain the positive effect of participation on achievement” (p. 69). This study will test the bonding proce ss described by the SDM and practiced within interscholastic sports programs t o determine if the same benefit exists for positive effects on student behavior. Operational Definitions •

Interscholastic athletic programs : Each state has a governing body that sanctions interscholastic athletic programs. Those are organized sports teams which represent a high school to compete against other high schools within the guidelines and requirements of the governing body (National Federation of State

High School Associations, 2007). •

Protective factor : A protective factor is a characteristic or condition present in individuals or groups that increases resistance to antisocial behavior (Calver t, 2002). •

Risk factor : A characteristic or condition that increases an individual’s disposition towards antisocial behavior (Hawkins, Herrenkohl, Farrington, Brewer, Catalano, Harachi, & Cothern, 2000). •

School bonding : Referred to in psychology as school engagement or identification with academics. School bonding is an affective, behavioral, and cognitive connectedness to the school institution (Jimerson, Campos, & Greif, 2003).

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Socialization : Socialization is the process by which an individual is trained in the culture of a group or organization (Catalano, Haggerty, Oesterle, Fleming, & Hawkins, 2004). •

Violent behavior : Undesirable aggressive, forceful, or hostile behavior with the intent to harm a person or property. Bullying, fighting, threatening, assaulting, carrying weapons, and vandalism are examples of violent behaviors that may be seen in a school setting (Hawkins, Herrenkohl, Farrington, Brewer, Catalano, Harachi, & Cothern, 2000). Scope and Limitations The scope of this study will be the existing data collected by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) from

high school students in the cities of Dallas, TX, and Boston, MA. Both of these sample cities are large, urban school districts with approximately 20 high schools ser ving students in Grades 9 through 12. As most urban school districts, schools in these metropolitan areas are looking for cost-effective programs to prevent yout h violence. This data demonstrated that many of the same risk and protective factors ex ist within each high school. This study was limited by time in that it does not represent a longitudinal desig n. This survey represents a snapshot of the population for a particular point in time. The survey was not designed to reveal trends in behavior over time. The CDC noted that the results are further limited by self reports which may be underreport or overreport

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behaviors and cannot be measured. The YRBS has demonstrated high re-test relia bility. (U.S. DHHS, 2010). Because the survey instrument was administered during the regular school day, responses of students who are absent or have dropped out of school were not collected or included in the survey data. Nationwide, the percentage of students aged 16 to 17 not enrolled in school was 4% in 2007 (U.S. DHHS, 2010). All students present were eligible to participate but completion of the survey was strictly voluntary. Finally, the purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between athle tic participation and youth violence. The research is clear that there are many risk factors that influence behavior in adolescents. These factors include: substance abuse, menta l disorders and cognitive development (Scott, Quanbeck, & Resnick, 2007). These factors were not considered in the study. Because the focus of this study was specific to sports activities, partic ipation in other school-sponsored activities was not analyzed in this study. Survey questions did

not record participation in other activities and these non-athletic activities m ay provide an avenue for school bonding. Collection of this data point provides an opportunity for future research and discussion as to the differences in sports activities and othe r types of interest-based groups that exist in the high school setting. Significance of the Study The study of the effects of interscholastic athletic programs on aggress ive/violent behaviors of high school students will be significant for all schools that are face d with the challenges of addressing increasing incidents of violent behavior. Intervent ions for youth

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violence have traditionally and primarily been seen through the criminal just ice system (Calvert, 2002). Along with evaluation of the current interventions, there is an opportunity and a need to develop prevention programs that are more long-term and cost effective (Calvert, 2002; Hawkins, Catalano, Kosterman, Abbott & Hill, 1999). “The ideal approach for dealing with adolescent delinquency is to prevent its occurrenc e” (Calvert, 2002, p. 128). Furthermore, Healthy People 2010 (2000) recommended that school and community violence prevention programs target youth before violent beliefs and patterns of behavior are adopted. School-based athletic programs encompass several of the protective factors for youth violence discussed in the literature. Interscholastic athletic progr ams create opportunities for positive bonds with adults and peers, improved attitudes towards school, and encourage regular school attendance (Marsh & Evans, 2007). By including parent involvement in athletic events and increasing self-esteem through athletic accomplishments, sports offerings address four of the five categories of pr otective factors (Marsh & Evans, 2007). At the same time, many schools are faced with limited school resources and having to make difficult decision as to which school programs must be reduced or eliminated to meet those budgets (McCord, Spatz, & Bamba, 2000; Taliaferro, Rienzo, Donovan, 2010). In section 2, I will examine factors of the athletic programs that ar e identified by current literature as effecting youth behavior. Understandi ng influential factors, school administrators can make informed decisions as to the effect iveness of athletic programs for school bonding, violence prevention, and prosocial development of

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adolescents, in addition to the promotion of physical fitness and the instruction of sport- specific skills (Furlong, Whipple, St. Jean, Simental, Soliz & Punthuna, 2003). Furthermore, once influential factors of athletic programs are determine d, other school- based programs may incorporate those attributes to ensure the success of the ir programs in curtailing youth violence. In section 3, I will outline how this research study i s designed to measure the relationship between athletic participation, school bonding and violent behaviors exhibited in the school setting. In sections 4 and 5, the results of the study are presented along with implications and recommendations.

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Section 2: Literature Review Introduction The search for relevant information for this study covered the topics of school bonding, adolescent development, and sport participation in addition to recent studies based on the social development model (SDM). EBSCO and Thoreau searches were conducted to evaluate peer-reviewed, scholarly articles. The information gat hered from these searches is presented in section 2 with discussion of the risk factors, protec tive factors and critical information related to adolescent social development. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that about one half of youth ages 10-17 engaged in problem behavior including violent behavior (CDC, 2007). The Youth Risk Behavior Survey administered by the CDC reported rates of violent behaviors among youth that were significantly higher that the goals of Healthy People 2010 . These included fighting and carrying various weapons to school (CDC, 2007). Historically, the problem of youth violence has been dealt with by the crimina l justice system through short-term, reactive, and punitive measures (Calve rt, 2002). It is only in the last decade that the prevention of youth violence has become a public health issue (Calvert, 2002). Sprague, Smith, and Stieber (2002) reported that most schools are dealing with violence problems and working to reduce, prevent or eliminate these

behaviors in schools. This section will explore emerging themes in scholarl y literature surrounding youth violence.

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Recent Studies Recent literature examining youth violence has exposed two significant facts

relevant to this study. First, high school represents a critical age and a crit ical environment for the manifestations of youth violence. The period of adolescence, ages 13 to 17, is marked by many changes and challenges which can produce undesirable behaviors (Piko, Fitzpatrick & Wright, 2004). Second, there are apparent factors that impact adolescent behavior in the school environment. Those factors can be divided into risk factors that increase the disposition for antisocial behavior and protective factors that reduce the propensity for antisocial behavior. Lee (2005) stated that “schools are t he primary setting in which much of adolescent delinquency occurs and the most promising setting for the prevention of delinquency” (p. 78). The high school environment and the adolescent age group are significant areas to study the risk and protective factors for youth violence. High School Environment According to the SDM, the socializing opportunities of the adolescent will determine the prosocial or antisocial behavior that will be exhibited. (Herre nkohl, et al., 2003). High school represents a critical age and physical environment in the discus sion of and prevention of youth violence. Hoffman (2006) proposed that the high school environment is significant for adolescents because it provides multiple environme nts – academic institution, social environments, school-based activity groups – and there fore offers multiple aspects for adolescents to make connections. Additionally, high s chool can offer respite from dysfunction in the home or family (Hoffman, 2006).

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The age of most students entering high school at grade 9 is 13 or 14 years. Adolescents exhibit the highest rates of crime and victimization of any age

group, and an estimated 2.7 million violent crimes are committed at or near schools annually. Among young people 12 to 15 years of age, 37% of violent crime victimizations occur on school property (Osborne, 2004, p. 147). The Seattle Social Development Project determined that incidents of delinque ncy for boys ages 14 to 15 were decreased if they were bonded to school and had higher academic achievement by ages 12 to 13 (Herrenkohl, et al., 2003). The study also concluded that the risk of violent behavior for youths at age 18 was lower for those bonded to school, family, or religious institutions by age 15 (Herrenkohl et al., 2003). Catalano, et al. (2004) similarly reported that the risk of violence at age 18 w as significantly reduced by evidence of school bonding in ninth grade. School bonding is a significant predictor of delinquent behavior regardless of gender (Maddox & Prinz, 2003). Conversely, students lacking in school bonding showed increased risk of violence at 12 th grade (Catalano et al., 2004). Teens who do not have strong school bonds are more likely bring weapons to school (School Violence, I. Offenses and Incidence, 2002) . The breakdown in bonding also manifests in feelings of frustrations and leads to potentia l acts of violence, including school violence (School Violence, I. Offenses and Incidenc e, 2002). Furthermore, most incidents of youth violence occur during the one hour immediately following the end of the school day; the second most frequent time per iod is

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during the school day (Marsh & Evan, 2007). Stinson (2008) reported that delinquent behaviors are seen most in the hours after school because of the combination of peer pressure and lack of adult supervision. This research also concluded that the most successful programs for youth are those that support the development of social, emot ional and behavioral skills during those most critical times associated with delinquent behavior. With adolescents spending a large portion of their time in schools, under school supervision, and possibly after school, it is imperative that schools recognize the pote ntial benefits of effective programs (King, Vidourek, Davis, McClellan, 2002; Taliaf erro, et al., 2010). Stinson’s (2008) evaluation of school-based arts programs for at-risk adolescents concluded that, “the most obvious implication for practice involves continue d development of programs that serve disadvantaged youths during the periods of time when at-risk behavior is most likely to occur, which is often after school and during unsupervised summer breaks” (p. 23). As after-school hours are the most frequent hours for delinquent behavior, after-school programs are opportunities to reduce the risk f actors for youth violence. Although it is clear in the research that high school represents a critical environment for examining youth behavior, there is debate in the literature about the rural high school environment versus the urban high school environment. Much of the recent literature measures the behaviors of urban and suburban youth where the problem of youth violence is believed to be more critical (Rhea & Lantz, 2004). Marsh and Evans (2007) studied the violent behavior of rural and urban youth and reported that “males in rural schools were more likely to report carrying weapons than males in urban sc hools”

Full document contains 168 pages
Abstract: Youth violence is a serious problem in high schools throughout the United States. This study examined whether participation in high school sports serves as a protective factor against youth violence. As identified by the U.S. Surgeon General and many current research studies, school bonding is a significant protective factor for youth violence. School bonding is the building of connections between the student and the school institution, school staff and peers at school. This study used the basis of the social development model to inspect students' bonds to school through participation in high school sports programs. This quantitative study gathered data concerning high school students' sports participation, feelings of school bonding and violent behavior using the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey administered by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The independent variable was participation in high school sports while the dependent variables were self-reported school bonding and incidents of violent behaviors. T tests were used to measure the mean differences in reported levels of school bonding and incidents of violent behaviors for male and female athletes, and multiple regression analyzed the relationship between sports participation and school bonding. The results supported the social development model by indicating a relationship between school bonding and lower incidents of violent behavior; however, participation in high school sports had no relationship with lower violent behavior or school bonding. This research was designed to contribute to the current body of knowledge related to school bonding through interscholastic sports opportunities in an effort to assist schools in reducing violent behaviors in high schools.