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Sprague, J., Walker, H. M., Wagner, L., Stieber, S., Simonsen, B., Nishioka, V. (in press). Exploring the Relationship Between School Discipline Referrals and Delinquency. Psychology in the Schools: "Appraisal and Prediction of Violence in Schools." (Special Issue).


There is a growing concern about violent and destructive behaviors of youth that require intervention by juvenile justice and youth-serving agencies. This concern has led many to conclude that schools and community agencies must increase efforts to prevent juvenile delinquency and to provide programs that will facilitate rehabilitation, education, and vocational training for youth already involved. A clear understanding of the nature and range of behaviors that result in juvenile crime is needed in order to develop programs and interventions that can be expected to lead to beneficial changes for youth and for society as a whole. The purpose of this article is to describe the relationship between school behaviors and youth characteristics in school (e.g., discipline referrals, teacher nominations, nomothetic ratings) and referrals to juvenile authorities (e.g., illegal behaviors). We describe a strategy of using teacher nominations, school discipline referrals, and community arrest data to predict delinquent and violent behavior in youth. We outline data from a group of socially maladjusted middle school youth to illustrate the relationship between the two data sources and recommendations for identification and treatment of youth at risk for delinquency and antisocial behavior.