252609 Show me the money: Motivating high-aggressive youth to graduate

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Heidi Ehrenreich, MPH , Health Promotion and Behavior, University of Georgia, Athens
Patricia M. Reeves, PhD , School of Social Work, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Summar Corley , Department of Social Work, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Pamela Orpinas, PhD , Health Promotion and Behavior, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Purpose: The purpose of this study is to explore differences between high-aggressive (HAS) and low-aggressive students (LAS) planning to graduate about their motivations and challenges to stay in school.

Methods: Sixteen focus groups, organized by gender and aggression level, were conducted with eleventh graders (total n=81; 52% girls, 51% Caucasian, 48% African-American) attending one of eight high schools from six school districts in Northeast Georgia. All participants had completed yearly evaluations, as members of the Healthy Teens longitudinal study, which were used to identify persistent HAS and LAS.

Results: Five themes differentiated the perceptions of HAS and LAS. HAS emphasized the salience of school barriers (punitive school policies, lack of preparation for ninth grade); stress due to external factors (peer social pressures, balancing work and study to alleviate financial problems); preference for concrete sources of motivation (places to work and play, expectations of earning more money); strong influence of coaches; and lack of clearly defined parental expectations. HAS countered the additional strains of financial need and limited parental involvement by reaching out more strongly to people outside family (teachers and coaches) and in the community (churches and the Boys and Girls Clubs) for specific, instrumental help. The need to seek extra-familiar support made HAS also more susceptible to the pressures of peer groups.

Conclusions: While students in both groups were goal-oriented in their desire to graduate, dropout prevention interventions should integrate more targeted assistance, particularly to low SES students, into school policies and increase the role of coaches.

Learning Areas:
Other professions or practice related to public health
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. To describe differences in perceptions of high-aggressive and low-aggressive students on school completion 2. To identify school barriers that, if removed, would facilitate high school completion 3. To identify community characteristics that could facilitate high school completion

Keywords: School Health, Adolescents

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I am research assistant on data collected by the violence prevention workgroup at the University of Georgia.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.