Brief Intervention Impact on Truant Youth Attitudes to School and School Behavior Problems: A Longitudinal Study

Richard Dembo, Rhissa Briones-Robinson, Jennifer Wareham, Ken C. Winters, Rocío Ungaro, James Schmeidler


Truancy continues to be a major problem, affecting most school districts in the U.S. Truancy is related to school dropout, with associated adverse consequences, including unemployment and delinquency. It is important to obtain a more complete picture of truants’ educational experience. First, the present study sought to examine the longitudinal growth (increasing/decreasing trend) in truant youths’ attitudes toward school and misbehavior in school (disobedience, inappropriate behavior, skipping school). Second, this study focused on examining the impact of a Brief Intervention (BI) targeting the youths’ substance use, as well as socio-demographic and background covariates, on their attitudes toward school and school behavior problems over time. A linear growth model was found to fit the attitudes toward school longitudinal data, suggesting the youths’ attitudes toward school are related across time. An auto-regressive lag model was estimated for each of the school misbehaviors, indicating that, once initiated, youth continued to engage in them. Several socio-demographic covariates effects were found on the youths’ attitudes towards school and school misbehaviors over time. However, no significant, overall BI effects were uncovered. Some statistically significant intervention effects were found at specific follow-up points for some school misbehaviors, but none were significant when applying the Holm procedure taking account of the number of follow-ups. The implications of these findings are discussed.

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Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology   ISSN 1927-0526 (Print)   ISSN 1927-0534 (Online)

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