NIMH: Study Furthers Understanding of Disparities in School Discipline

Publication Date: Jun 24, 2022

A growing body of research has shown that Black, Hispanic, and students whose parent’s incomes are below the federal poverty threshold are disciplined more often and severely than their white peers or those with higher socioeconomic status. However, much of that research has been limited to K–12 settings or relied on potentially biased parent or childcare provider reports of disruptive behavior.


A new NIMH-supported analysis designed to overcome these limitations has further advanced our understanding of racial and socioeconomic bias in the classroom. The analysis shows that disciplinary disparities occur as early as preschool and that their effects can negatively influence how well students do in later years. In this new analysis, developmental psychologist Terri J. Sabol, Ph.D., of Northwestern University, examined data from 430 children who were part of a prior NIMH-funded study focused on preschoolers, led by Laurie Wakschlag, Ph.D., also of Northwestern University. Sabol drew on the data to examine if disciplinary differences could occur as early as preschool.


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