Research and Reports
Black students who were bused last year from inner-city Indianapolis schools to predominantly white suburban schools were pleased with the quality of their education, but felt socially isolated in their new schools, an Indiana University psychologist has found.
"You can integrate schools without integrating kids," said Robert L. Wolf, director of the university's Indiana Center for Evaluation, who surveyed nearly 5,000 students and interviewed more than 400 additional students, parents, teachers, and school officials last spring.
One possible reason for the social segregation, he said, is the distance between black students' homes and the suburban schools, which makes it difficult for black students and their parents to participate in school activities. (No white suburban students are bused to city schools under the court-ordered metropolitan plan, which went into effect peacefully last year.)
But he believes that another factor is that the youngsters lack "a sense of their role in history."
"School people seem to think that if they just get kids together, they will interact effectively," Mr. Wolf said. "Our hypothesis is that they need skills. What school officials have to do to integrate is much more deliberate. It's a mistake to think that distance and time will heal these problems."
In a report requested by the U.S. district judge who is overseeing desegregation in metropolitan Indianapolis, Mr. Wolf recommended that, in addition to the customary training in human relations and group dynamics, students involved in desegregation should take a course on the process itself.
"Kids ought to learn what's happened in other situations, why problems develop, and how adult biases interfere," he said. "It's not just teaching kids that Martin Luther King was a great man, although that's important, too. Kids who are being forced to get on a bus and go to a faraway school ought to know what social-societal role they're playing."
Some black children from the city "thought they were being punished'' and did not know why they had been chosen for the program, he said.
"The kids in Little Rock back in the 50's had a very strong sense of their role in history," Mr. Wolf said. "These kids need to be made to feel positive about their contribution to society at large."
Not all troubled teen-agers become drug abusers, but for those who do, the consequences can be serious. In a study that could help teachers recognize potential student drug users, a Rutgers University psychologist has identified 10 factors that can predict drug abuse in adolescents.
Moreover, Brenna Bry and research colleagues found, "youths identified as having the potential for trouble can be helped by positive intervention before drug abuse begins."
Adolescents are likely to become heavy users of drugs, according to Ms. Bry, if they perceive themselves as emotionally distant from their families, have a poor self-image, do not have religious convictions, and seem unmotivated in their schoolwork.
In addition, she learned, adolescents who experiment with alcohol and tobacco at an early age and whose family members are heavy users of alcohol and other drugs are also more prone to become drug abusers.
The risk that the teen-ager will turn to drugs increases with the
number of risk factors that apply to him or her. If four risk factors
are present, for example, the student is three times more likely to
become a drug abuser than if only one factor is present, Ms. Bry
The intervention program developed by Ms. Bry, which was recognized by a community-health journal as one of the nine best primary prevention programs nationally, focuses on improving the students' behavior in specific school situations.