Testing the Influence of Community Characteristics on School Misconduct

Todd A. Armstrong, Gaylene S. Armstrong, Charles Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This study examines the effect of dynamic and structural community characteristics on school misconduct. Data include over 45,000 students in the eighth, tenth, or twelfth grade in 237 schools. Hierarchical linear models tested the direct and interactive effects of community measures, while accounting for student and school characteristics. Community substance abuse norms as well as perceptions of community crime and disorder mediated the influence of concentrated disadvantage on school misconduct. Interaction effects demonstrated that community substance abuse norms were more influential for students enrolled in schools that had a less positive school climate although individual and school characteristics remained robust predictors of school misconduct. School misconduct is influenced by the characteristics of the surrounding community and school context, as well as the interaction between those contexts. Research relying on census data measures of community characteristics may underestimate community influence on school misconduct, and omit proximal community influences on school misconduct.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)792-817
Number of pages26
JournalJustice Quarterly
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 3 2015


  • communities
  • juvenile delinquency
  • school misconduct

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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