Connecting Adverse Childhood Experiences to the School-to-Prison Pipeline




Gonzalez, Alyssah Nicole

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This study examined Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and their connection to the school-to-prison pipeline by using the public-use data set from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescents to Adult Health (Add Health). Adverse childhood experiences have shown to create damaging effects throughout youths’ life course. With many children prone to experiencing abuse or neglect, it was then important to discuss whether this experience is a factor that leads youth into the school-to-prison pipeline. The school-to-prison focuses on students that are criminalized due to school policies and harsh punishments because of behavior and delinquency. Students who are funneled out of schools are likely to fall into the hands of law enforcement, eventually leading them to prisons. This study identified whether respondents who experienced a high number of adverse childhood experiences were more prone to falling into the school-to-prison pipeline. In order to determine this relationship, a quantitative study was conducted using Add Health’s public use data set. This study is a nationally representative sample that looks at adolescents who were in the 7th through 12th grade starting from the years 1994 – 1995. Four multivariate logistic models were used to assess the relationship between ACEs, school discipline, criminal justice contact, delinquency, and demographic variables. Results found that respondents who experienced a high number of ACEs were more likely to be suspended, expelled, arrested, and incarcerated. Delinquency, a mediating variable, was found to explain the relationships only partially between ACEs and the school-to-prison pipeline.


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Adverse childhood experiences, School-to-prison pipeline