School Climate Impacts Youth

There is extensive research that shows that school climate has a profound impact on students’ mental and physical health. School climate has been shown to affect middle school students’ self-esteem (Hoge, Smit, & Hanson, 1990), mitigate the negative effects of self-criticism (Kuperminic, Leadbeater, & Blatt, 2001), and affect a wide range of emotional and mental health outcomes (Kuperminic, Leadbeater, Emmons, & Blatt, 1997; Payton et al., 2008; Power, Higgins, & Kohlberg, 1989; Shochet, Dadds, Ham, & Montague, 2006; Way, Reddy, & Rhodes, 2007). Research has also revealed a positive correlation between school climate and student self-concept (Cairns, 1987; Heal, 1978; Reynolds, Jones, Leger, & Murgatroyd, 1980; Rutter, Maughan, Mortimore, & Ouston, 1979).

A positive and sound socio-emotional climate of a school is also related to the frequency of its students’ substance abuse and psychiatric problems (Kasen, Johnson, & Cohen, 1990; LaRusso, Romer, & Selman, 2008; Ruus et al., 2007; Shochet et al., 2006). More specifically, a positive school climate is linked to lower levels of drug use as well as fewer self-reports of psychiatric problems among high school students (LaRusso et al., 2008). In early adolescence, a positive school climate is predictive of better psychological well-being (Ruus et al., 2007; Shochet et al., 2006; Virtanen et al., 2009).

IINII uses a revolutionary Design Thinking process to help your school community gain an understanding of one’s sense of self, as well as developing an understanding of students’ and parents’ values; having an understanding of one’s values matters because research has shown that it is linked to better well-being, less stress, and increased confidence in one’s ability to succeed.

Understanding students’ values can be developed with culturally sustaining practices that reflect a student’s identity and experience. Particularly helpful is focusing efforts on cultural competence and relevance and providing opportunities for students to practice bridging differences between diverse identities in a safe environment. To learn how you can create a dynamic youth-centered environment that honors the unique values of your students and parents, visit our website at, or contact us at or 1800-507-2502.

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