Modern Psychological Studies
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Place of Publication
There is a growing epidemic of children of color being disproportionately and inappropriately disciplined due to recommendations for exclusionary educational discipline practices such as suspension and expulsion. Throughout the literature, SES, level of ability, gender, and skin color were essential factors in evaluating students’ suspension risk. The most salient of these factors is race. Implicit bias towards darker-skinned students is the main factor for the discipline gap. This literature review explores the causes and rates that middle school and high school students of color are disproportionately recommended for suspension and expulsion and the consequences of racially discriminatory discipline practices. Exclusionary punishment criminalizes youth and leads to worse life outcomes. Expulsion and suspension lead to higher rates of youth crime in the community, and they are contributing factors to the school-to-prison pipeline. As zero-tolerance policies grow more popular for non-criminal offenses in the school setting, the circumstances around the behaviors leading to mandatory suspension and expulsion are no longer considered. Students’ involvement in the school, positive student-teacher relationships, and students’ individuation are critical protective factors in reducing racial bias in discipline. This literature synthesizes and critically analyzes the body of literature in this field. Recommendations for additional research regarding intersectionality between race and gender need to be funded, zero-tolerance policies need to be abolished and school administrators dedicated to positive student outcomes need to be hired.
Wirtz, Elizabeth R.
"Racial disparity in educational punishment,"
Modern Psychological Studies: Vol. 27:
1, Article 4.
Available at: https://scholar.utc.edu/mps/vol27/iss1/4