Punitive versus Medicalized Responses to Childhood Behavior Problems and Well-Being in Young Adulthood

David M. Ramey, Pennsylvania State University

Scholars have documented two contemporary trends involving misbehavior in public schools in the United States - a growing reliance on suspension and expulsion as punishment and medicalization, or the use of medical diagnoses and treatment. Despite these trends, we know little about how punishment and medicalization influence long-term social and economic well-being. W are unclear about how the social construction of child behavior contributes to involvement in the school to prison pipeline, a process in which children with behavior problems are pushed out of school and into crime and incarceration. This paper begins to consider the relationship between childhood social control and school performance within the context of the school to prison pipeline. I argue that school punishment may push kids out of school and potentially into the criminal justice system. On the other hand, medicalizing behavior problems may keep kids in school and out of the criminal justice system.

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Presented in Session 53: Policy Influences on Adolescent Health