School connectedness and high school graduation among maltreated youth
Lemkin, Allison Beth
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Maltreated youth have higher rates of school dropout than their non-maltreated peers. School connectedness is a modifiable predictor of school success. We hypothesized maltreated youth’s school connectedness (supportive relationships with adults at school and participation in school clubs) would be positively associated with high school graduation. We included youth with at least one Child Protective Services (CPS) report by age twelve from Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect, a prospective cohort study. Participation in extracurricular activities and adult relationships reported at age 16, high school graduation/General Education Development (GED) status reported at age 18, and demographics were provided by youth and caregivers. Maltreatment data were coded from CPS records. The outcome was graduation/receipt of GED. Multivariable logistic regressions examined the association between school connectedness and graduation/receipt of GED, controlling for confounders. In our sample of 318 maltreated youth, 73.3% graduated. School club was the only activity with a statistically significant association with graduation in bivariate analysis. Supportive relationships were not significantly associated with graduation, though only 10.7% of maltreated youth identified supportive relationships with adults at school. Maltreated youth who participated in school clubs had 2.54 times the odds of graduating, adjusted for study site, gender, poverty status, caregiver high school graduation status, and age at first CPS report (95% CI: [1.02, 6.33]). Few maltreated youth reported relationships with adults at school, and additional efforts may be needed to support these vulnerable youth. School club participation may represent an opportunity to modify maltreated youth’s risk for school dropout.