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From School Halls to Shopping Malls: Multilevel Predictors of Police Contact In and Out of School

Published onMay 26, 2022
From School Halls to Shopping Malls: Multilevel Predictors of Police Contact In and Out of School
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From School Halls to Shopping Malls: Multilevel Predictors of Police Contact In and Out of School
Description

Objectives: Individual- and school-level factors associated with youth being stopped, searched, or arrested in school are identified. Correlates of community-based contact are also examined. Methods: Longitudinal student surveys and corresponding school-level data come from 21 middle and high schools in 6 districts in St. Louis County, Missouri. Multilevel multinomial logistic regression was used to assess factors related to a three-category dependent variable, distinguishing youth with: (1) no police contact, (2) in-school contact, and (3) out-of-school contact. Independent variables capture student-level demographics, behavior, experiences, and perceptions and school-level characteristics and practices. Results: Factors associated with in-school contact include substance use, peer associations, prior contact, and prior school sanctions. Odds of school-based contact also increase when youth are less aware of school rules and perceive greater disorder. Among school-level characteristics, only officers responding to school problems is significantly associated with in-school contact. Conclusions: There is some consistency in individual-level factors associated with police contact across locations, particularly related to prior sanctions, but findings highlight potential mechanisms that vary across contexts. This study also provides evidence that some schoolwide responses may contribute to youth's likelihood of having police contact in school, but solutions should consider the fluidity of contact in schools and communities.

 

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