Health Impacts of our Education Justice Work

All information extracted from Health Impact Assessment of School Discipline Policies, a joint report of Human Impact Partners, CADRE, and Restorative Justice Partners

Impacts on Educational Attainment

Public health studies show that people with more education are likely to:

  • Live longer
  • Exercise regularly and have a healthy weight
  • Not smoke
  • Obtain timely heath care checkups and screenings
  • Have healthier babies and children
  • Have better social networks of support
  • Earn more money

An Exclusionary discipline approach leads to lower educational attainment, including:

  • Lower grades and test scores
  • Negative attitudes about school and feelings of alienation
  • Increased Special Education referrals
  • Higher dropout rates and grade retention
  • Less participation in extracurricular activities
  • Lower attendance rates

Coleman is helping to lead the implementation of a new approach to school discipline in SFUSD, at the core of which are two primary strategies: PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) and Restorative Practices. 

PBIS is a proactive approach to establishing the behavioral supports and social culture and needed for all students in a school to achieve social, emotional and academic success. Restorative practices are processes that proactively build healthy relationships and a sense of community to prevent and address conflict and wrongdoing. They allow each member of the school community to develop and implement a school’s adopted core values.

A PBIS discipline approach leads to higher educational attainment, including improvements in reading performance and all-around student academic performance, as well as a reduction in out-of-school suspensions.

A Restorative Justice discipline approach also leads to higher educational attainment, including:

  • Reduced suspensions and expulsions
  • The development and sustainability of positive relationships
  • Higher attendance rates and higher likelihood of graduating
  • Higher academic performance, including test scores

Impacts on Misbehavior, Recurring Discipline Events, and Incarceration

Studies have shown that suspension and expulsion are associated with the following public health issues:

  • Engagement with juvenile justice and incarceration as an adult, which are associated with stress related illnesses, psychiatric problems, suicide attempts, higher long-range recidivism rates, and increased HIV, Hepatitis C, and tuberculosis
  • Dropping out, which can then lead to increased chance of unemployment and incarceration

An Exclusionary discipline approach does not prevent future offenses at school and leads to:

  • More misbehavior and repeat suspension and/or expulsion
  • Increased violence and drug use
  • Increased referrals to juvenile justice and greater likelihood of adult incarceration

A PBIS discipline approach leads to a reduction in office discipline referrals and suspensions, fewer referrals to law enforcement, and fewer repeat incidents.

A Restorative Justice discipline approach leads to fewer instances of harmful and disruptive behavior, reduction in suspensions and expulsions, and fewer referrals to law enforcement.

Impacts on Mental Health

One contributor to poor mental health is stress. Early life and chronic stress, including stress from feeling unsafe in one’s neighborhood and environment, can lead to:

  • Poor birth outcomes
  • Adult chronic disease and obesity
  • Mental health disorders
  • Heart disease
  • Substance abuse

A PBIS discipline approach leads to a reduction in negative mental health outcomes of exclusionary discipline policies.

A Restorative Justice discipline approach leads to:

  • Increased levels of respect and empathy
  • Improved conflict resolution skills
  • Reduced antisocial behavior among students

Impacts on Violence and Crime

Impacts of violence on health are both direct and indirect. Violence can cause injury or death and can:

  • Increase stress and exacerbate negative mental health impacts
  • Decrease neighborhood cohesion, which is a determinant of health
  • On a neighborhood level, increase pre-term birth and low birth weight
  • Increase violence and non-violent delinquency among adolescent girls and boys

An Exclusionary discipline approach leads to increased school safety, and potentially decreases school safety. In addition, youth are more likely to use drugs when they’re not in school.

A PBIS discipline approach leads to improvements in students’ perceptions of safety at school.

A Restorative Justice discipline approach leads to:

  • Reduced violence and fights
  • Increased perceptions of safety
  • Reduced crime

Impacts on Community Cohesion

Strong social ties and/or a social network are associated with:

  • Lower stress
  • Better management of and recovery from illness
  • Decreased risk of mortality
  • Increased access to health-related information and resources
  • Lower anxiety and depression in coping with community violence
  • Lower risk of suicide

An Exclusionary discipline approach leads to financial hardships for parents who stay home to supervise suspended or expelled children.

A PBIS discipline approach leads to:

  • Increased respect for all members of the school community
  • Better relationships among staff
  • Supportive administrative leadership

A Restorative Justice discipline approach leads to:

  • Better relationships throughout the school community
  • Increased student participation
  • Increased respect among students