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Can Keeping Troubled Youth in Class Make a Difference?


The future of any given nation is always dependent on the discipline and level of achievement of its young people. This is why there is always a concerted effort in ensuring that most if not all young people are given a good shot at life. Troubled young people are part and parcel of the larger youth pool and society must handle them wisely to make them succeed in life. So many methods are employed in trying to correct the unacceptable behavior but only a few of them work. In this paper, an analysis of three articles will support the thesis that methods that are geared towards keeping young people in school work best compared to suspension and expulsion.

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In the first article, the problem statement is: Determining the effectiveness of alternative ways of handling students with violent behavior. The method under scrutiny is the conflict resolution skills training program which entails the exposure of the affected students to peaceful or non-violent means of dealing with issues (Breunlin, Cimmarusti, Bryant-Edwards & Hetherington 2002, p.359).

The research questions that are being dealt with by the authors of the article are: Is suspension effective as a means of dealing with students with violent tendencies? Are there other alternatives that can be applied? Is a conflict resolution training skills program one of the alternatives? How does the program of conflict resolution skills training perform as a possible replacement of the traditional suspensions and expulsions given to students with violent behavior?

The literature review for the article is comprehensive. For example, the work of Dupper and Bosch provides the basis for the opinion that out-of-school suspensions are not effective in dealing with students with violent behavior. Black and Townsend are quoted as the voices against expulsion. They doubt whether it can help the expelled students. Citing Tolan and Guerra, the authors back up their idea that more than half of the violence that is witnessed in most schools is relationship violence or situational violence (Breunlin et al., 2002, p.360). This is the tone that the entire article follows. Each main idea is backed up by a scholarly source thus making the literature review quite comprehensive.

The design of the study is that of repeated treatment of repetitive measures. The total number of participants is 165. Their characteristics include the fact that they have a history of violence in the school whereby they have either fought with another student or possibly a member of staff, they have shown the intent to engage in a violent act, or have been assessed and considered possible candidates for the program through careful analysis by the school authorities. The target population is the student body and the specific elements are the ones involved in violence-related actions.

The experiment treatment that was carried out in this study involved the selection of students and dividing them into groups. Some were given the training for dealing with conflicts without violence while others were not. The divisions had students who had engaged in various levels of unacceptable behavior ranging from fighting to other forms of violent and non-violent behavior. The consequent actions by the school authorities were taken into consideration too whereby suspension or absence of suspension for the concerned students was catered for in the groupings. This study was conducted in a timeline of three years. This is a satisfactorily sufficient time for such a detailed study.

Results from the study were reported in tabular as well as other forms with percentages calculated to indicate a change in behavior after undertaking the program for those who took it and lack of behavior change for those who were left out of the program. This study had its limitations that affected the outcome. For example, there are problems with the sample size. A sample size (N) of 165 students is not sufficient to prove that the alternative program of conflict resolution skills training works. Larger sample size would have given better results. Would it be because of funding? It is hard to tell. But the assumption is that like in any other study, resources are always a problem.

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The second article takes a different tone from article one. It just presents ideas on how troubled kids can be assisted to make the best out of their lives. An example is given of a school in Texas where troubled students are taken care of in a well-structured program that emphasizes good behavior (Harrington-Lueker, 1995.p.18). The possible problem statement that can arise from the article is that troubled students are increasingly being left out of the school system due to the inability of most school authorities to deal with them in a way that can make them succeed. Is there an alternative that can be used to help them make the best out of their lives?

The design of the presentation of ideas in this article is in the form of observations of what is going on in most schools in the nation and a clear focus on areas where students with behavior problems are being handled. The participants in the presentation are the students who have behavior problems. There is no fixed number in this article since it does not take the experiment format. The characteristics of the participants are that they have behavior issues such as violence and the inability to socially cope with their peers in normal school settings. It is not surprising that this presentation of ideas is not restricted to a specific timeline.

The analysis methods employed include the description of how chosen schools deal with the concerned students. For example, the students are said to be undergoing thorough instruction on how to behave well with strict rules on how to carry out their activities. There is a program of rewards and punishments where those who show improvements in behavior are given points and eventually allowed to join normal schools. Those who continue to exhibit violent behavior are given punitive chores such as tending the sports fields or washing the school vehicles. This is all geared towards making them know that bad behavior has consequences.

The propositions made in this article are based on the findings of other researchers. The authors tell us that methods such as expulsion or suspension do not help troubled young people. These methods make the affected students lose on many fronts ranging from academic marginalization to the denial of the chance to learn how to behave in a group setting. The latest idea, in this case, is that these students progress to non-profitable members of society.

This presentation of ideas has several limitations. Since it is not a study, there is no evidence that what is said in this article can work. It is common to treat non-experimental presentations as hearsay or mere speculation and therefore unworthy of implementation. The ideas are also not supported by substantial figures of positive outcomes and therefore not convincing enough for implementation. It is possible to easily challenge the ideas.

For future research in this area, the focus should be on a more reliable format such as an experiment with substantial numbers of students taken to such schools and their behavior change well monitored and documented. There should also be a proper control set whereby troubled students who are not taken to such schools are monitored and their behavior change recorded too. This can then form a strong base for the implementation of the program of special schools if it works.

Article three’s problem statement is whether the juvenile structured day programs for suspended and expelled youth have any meaningful impact on the lives of these young people. The whole process that takes place in the programs is also under scrutiny in this study (Yearwood & Abdum-Muhaymin 2007, p.47).

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The questions that are evident in this study are: Does the North Carolina juvenile structured day program for suspended and expelled youth work? What is the nature of the process of getting these young people into this program? What is the percentage of the young people who turn out right after going through this program? What is the level of government support for this program? What is the structured program for these troubled youth that is under consideration? What are the markers of improved behavior that formed the basis of the claim that these programs improved youth behavior? The literature review is robust. For example in their expression of the notion that out of school measures are not the best in dealing with troubled youth, the authors cite the literature of Nichols and Steffy who are of the idea that suspending or expelling students is not the best way to deal with students who have behavior problems.

The study takes the design of data collection and analysis. This is done through the sending out of questionnaires that were answered and returned. The questionnaires had thirty-six items in them and they were forty-one in number.

The analysis methods employed included the careful examination of the data from the filled and returned questionnaires. This data was then analyzed and various percentages were reported such as the number of students who showed improvement in various ways after undertaking the program. The findings are that the programs that are meant to correct the youth while keeping them in school are more helpful. The idea that taking measures that keep troubled youth out of school is not the best is indicated in this study. Were there any limitations in this study?

This study had its limitations. The number of a questionnaire sent out was very small. The fact that only twenty-one out of the forty-one questionnaires were filled and returned makes it even more troubling. This makes it hard to convince someone that the findings of the study are credible enough since the sample size as seen from the respondents is minute or small. The study also fails to strongly make the case for the expensive nature of such alternative programs for these young people although the spending may be worth the cause. Another limitation of the study is the absence of the best way to handle the students who fail to show behavior improvement even after undergoing the program.

Future research in this area should be focused on increasing the number of respondents. This can be done by sending out more questionnaires or visiting the concerned respondents and asking the questions. This is because some respondents may not be willing to take the trouble of filling and returning the questionnaires but can easily answer questions. There should also be further research on the comprehensive financial implications of these juvenile structured day programs such as the one for North Carolina.


In conclusion, it is evident from these three studies that only when young people are kept in class can behavior change be witnessed. It is therefore the only way to enable these troubled young people to make the best out of their lives.


  1. Breunlin, D., Cimmarusti, R., Bryant-Edwards, T., & Hetherington, J. (2002). Conflict Resolution Training as an Alternative to Suspension for Violent Behavior. Journal of Educational Research, 95(6), 349.
  2. Harrington-Lueker, D. (1995). Ideas for alternative schools for troubled kids. Education Digest, 60(8), 18.
  3. Yearwood, D., & Abdum-Muhaymin, J. (2007). Juvenile Structured Day Programs for Suspended and Expelled Youth: An Evaluation of Process and Impact. Preventing School Failure, 51(4), 47.

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