Alarming Relation Between Early School Leaving and Crime: A Case Study of Twelve Male School Drop-Outs Who Ended Up Behind Bars

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Smale and Gounko study twelve men who dropped out of school early, and wound up in juvenile delinquency. While many studies have suggested a link between early school leaving and delinquency nobody has done a study from the perspective of the criminals using dissimilar populations. The directional causality between criminal behavior and dropping out of school has yet to be established, and this study brings researchers one step closer to fully understanding which one happens first. The authors outline a long list of factors that contribute to early school leaving, and they insist that educators can play a role in impacting the in school environment to create positive outcomes for students on the fence about dropping out.


“Through a conceptual framework exploring personal, familial, and school-related characteristics, the authors provide an insightful discussion and recommendations related to theory, policy, and practice as these apply to the individual and to society (including schools and various levels of government). This book stands apart from other academic treatments of early school leaving in that the authors help the reader to understand the complexities of what can cause young people to drop out of high school and be unable to contribute to society.”

-Prof. José L. da Costa,
University of Alberta

“The greatest strength of this book is the youths’ stories, which comprise its pedagogical and sociological heart. They are powerful narratives that challenge the stereotypes and limited understandings that caring professionals might possess and that undermine their ability to work with this youth population.”

-Prof. André P. Grace,
University of Alberta

“The recommendations provided on this topic could serve as a platform for important policy and practice-based decisions in attempts to eradicate early school leaving. Given the demands of our knowledge economy in the 21st century, early school leaving, although on the decline, exact a heavy toll on those left behind. The book provides important insights into this phenomenon and its connection to crime.”

-Prof. Yvette Daniel,
University of Windsor

Table of Contents

Foreword by Dr. Jose L. da Costa

Chapter One: Introduction to the Study
Purpose of the Study
Justification for the Study
Cost and Consequences of Early School Leaving
Deviance and the Early School Leaver
Significance of the Study
Introduction to the Participants
Research Questions
Organization of the Book

Chapter Two: Review of the Literature on Early School Leaving
Family Background and Demographic Characteristics
Personal Characteristics
School-Related Characteristics

Chapter Three: Research Methods and Profiles of the Participants
Research Design
Data Gathering
Data Analysis
Data Trustworthiness
Ethical Procedures
Delimitations and Limitation of the Study
Profiles of Participants

Chapter Four: A Life History Perspective
The Participants Stories

Chapter Five: Analysis and Discussion of Life-History Perspective
Environmental Stability: Transition and Mobility
History of Child Abuse
Family Influences
Neighborhood and Community
Individual Characteristics

Chapter Six: An Educational Perspective
The Participants Stories

Chapter Seven: Analysis and Discussion of Educational Perspective
School Climate: Students-Staff Rapport
Attitudinal Factors Toward High School Environment
Number of Schools Attended and Suspensions
Cognitive Ability
School Behavioral Problems
Employment, Finances, School Credits, and Future Plans

Chapter Eight: Overview, Conclusion, and Recommendations
Overview of the Study
Conceptual Framework of the Factors Affecting
Early School Leaving

Appendix A

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