Our current featured article is titled “School Discipline Experiences Among Youth With Disabilities From the Perspective of School Nurses” authored by Hannah E. Fraley, PhD, RN, CNE, CPH; Gordon Capp, PhD, LCSW; and Teri Aronowitz, PhD, APRN, FNP-BC, FAAN. Download this article at no cost while it is featured — we welcome you comments below. Here is a message from Dr. Fraley about this work:
As an early career scientist and scholar, I have been building the science surrounding prevention of
youth violence, particularly trafficking, among youth attending schools in the U.S. A large focus of my work has been on evaluating and building awareness among school nurses regarding how youth experiencing violence and trafficking present in schools so that school nurses can identify and prevent trafficking, given survivors of trafficking consistently report that they are often misperceived in care interactions as “trouble” and “behavioral”. In these foundational studies, we have identified another common theme brought forward by school nurses- youth with disabilities are particularly misunderstood in schools and it is known in literature that they are a population of youth most at risk for violence. This led my colleagues and I to further explore our qualitative data through secondary analysis exploring the perspectives school nurses have regarding discipline practices in school among youth with disabilities using the Peace and Power Conceptual Model.
Our findings highlight youth with disabilities can experience unjust, harsh disciplinary practices because they are misunderstood and mislabeled, fueled by lack of awareness, and understanding among school faculty. These attitudes shape the power-over dynamics in schools, perpetuating the unjust experiences of youth with disabilities, our most vulnerable youth. Particularly, school nurses in our study have shed light on minority youth with disabilities disproportionately experiencing harsh discipline, including unjust, unwarranted restraints and seclusion, kicked out of classrooms and schools, and sent to residential placements, placing them at higher risk for exposure to violence and the juvenile justice system. School nurses’ perspectives of these youth also often conflicted with other colleagues, creating power-over dynamics, such as being left out of planning teams for youth with disabilities and their input disregarded. Bringing to light the disparate discipline experiences of youth with disabilities in our schools is critical to work towards rebuilding emancipatory school systems that promote social-emotional school-wide programs and restorative justice practices, consistent with peace-power dynamics. Findings from this secondary qualitative data analysis have set the stage for my future study with adults with disabilities exploring their past school discipline experiences. Because people with disabilities are often understudied, hearing directly from people with disabilities themselves about their school discipline experiences will not only serve to inform my future work with school faculty, but will serve to bring their voices and experiences forward.