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School Connectedness Reduces Risky Behaviors

School connectedness, also known as school attachment, school climate or school bonding, is the belief among students that teachers and other adults within the school care about them as individuals and care about their learning (Wingspread Declaration on School Connections, 2004). Research studies have shown that students who feel connected to school are more likely to have a number of positive health and academic outcomes (Bond et al., 2007; Dornbusch et al., 2001; Resnick et al., 1993; Shochet et al., 2007). School connectedness has also been shown to be a key protective factor that lowers the risk of engaging in health-compromising behavior in youth. For example, Dornbusch et al. (2001) prospectively showed that higher levels of school connectedness were strongly associated with students' delayed initiation of tobacco, alcohol and cannabis use, delinquency, and violent behavior.

School connectedness is grounded within attachment theory and such models as the Social Development Model (Berkman et al., 2000; J., 1980). Attachment theory argues that psycho- logical and social development is based on secure emotional bonds with important persons such as parents or other adults (Bowlby, 2005). Such bonds help with positive development and buffer the effects of negative experiences. The Social Development Model builds on attachment theory and suggests that school connectedness is based on students' sense of attachment and commitment to school as well as their involvement in school (Catalano et al., 2004). According to the model, patterns of behavior are learned from the social environment and when there is consistency in the socializing process, a social bond is formed between individuals and others within the social environment. As schools are primary socializing units or agents, social bonds that reflect attachment and commitment between an individual student and others within the school could develop. Once secure, such school bonding would inhibit beliefs and behaviors inconsistent with the norms and values of the school.

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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