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School Connectedness Protects Against Suicide

School connectedness relates to how youth perceive that their learning and identity are valued by their teachers and peers (Oldfield, Stevenson, Ortiz, & Haley, 2018; Foster et al., 2017; Crespo, Jose, Kielpikowski, & Pryor, 2013). School connectedness has been identified as a protective factor against adolescent depression (Joyce & Early, 2014; Millings et al., 2012; Shochet, et, al., 2008; Resnik et al., 1997), forpredicting future adverse adolescent mental health conditions (Shochet, et, al., 2006), as well as a predictor of mental health resilience (Oldfield, Stevenson, Ortiz, & Haley, 2018). Higher school connectedness was associated with fewer depressive symptoms advancing the evidence of school connectedness as a correlate and potential predictor of adolescent depressive symptoms (Anderman, 2002; Frydenberg, Care, Freeman, & Chan, 2009; Resnick et al., 1997; Shochet et al., 2006).


Teacher support, the “extent to which teachers are supportive, responsive, and committed to students' well-being,” (Wang, 2009, p. 242) has also been associated with depressive symptoms. Way, Reddy, and Rhodes (2007) and Wang (2009) both found that teacher support predicted lower depressive symptoms in adolescents. Therefore, the available evidence suggests a relationship between teacher support and depression among adolescents. Prior research suggests that racial minority youth perceive a more negative school climate compared to their white peers (Watkins & Aber, 2009) and have weaker relationships with teachers (Olsson, 2009).


Youth who experience a sense of connection to their school are better able to overcome the adverse effects of bullying (Foster et al., 2017). The scholars state, “Our findings suggest that connectedness, particularly to caregivers and schools, has the potential to protect against an array of emotional/behavioral problems even in youth with significant interpersonal problems (e.g., bullying victimization, perpetration, isolation) who are living in a low-income” (p. 329). Moreover, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) youth are at increased risk for bullying at school (Goodenow, Szalacha, & Westheimer, 2006) and lower perceptions of school connectedness (Kosciw, Greytak, Diaz, & Bartkiewicz, 2010). Higher school connectedness was associated with fewer depressive symptoms advancing the evidence of school connectedness as a correlate and potential predictor of adolescent depressive symptoms (Anderman, 2002; Frydenberg, Care, Freeman, & Chan, 2009; Resnick et al., 1997; Shochet et al., 2006).


Preventive interventions developed to improve school connectedness by informing and equipping teachers with skills and strategies to foster school connectedness could complement interventions that address other individual risk factors for depression and other adolescent problems. There is a large body of literature discussing and evaluating factors that promote school connectedness (e.g., L. H. Anderman & Freeman, 2004; Blum, McNeely, & Rinchart, 2002; Furlong et al., 2003; Klem & Connell, 2004; Roeser, Eccles, & Sameroff, 2000; Wentzel, 1998).


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 www.iinii.org, or contact us at iinii@iinii.org or 1800-507-2502.



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