Study Finds Black and Latina Girls Face Harsh Realities in School

Researchers have discovered that school policies put black and Latina girls at a disadvantage compared to their male and white counterparts.

Black and Latina girls face challenges in school that their classmates don’t, according to a recent study.

The report, Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected, was produced when The Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies (CISPS) conducted focus groups and interviews between Sep. 2012 and Aug. 2013, and the African American Policy Forum (AAPF) analyzed the results. The study reports: “This silence about at-risk girls is multidimensional and cross-institutional.”

The researchers found gaps in harshness of discipline between races and genders, including punitive discipline rather than restorative responses that “contributes to the separation of girls from school.” The study also cites some school’s negligence in situations of sexual harassment and bullying that can contribute to girl’s insecurity and lead them to act out.

Additionally, the reports says that black and Latina girls have disproportionate familial obligations, including teen parenthood, that serve as a roadblock for them to achieve academic goals.

The study offers several suggestions to combat the problems facing black and Latina girls in schools. The authors encourage a gender-equitable approach to discipline, the development of procedures that helped girls feel safe in schools, the revision of policy that leads girls to the juvenile justice system and the expansion of programs to help teen parents, among other things.

Some of the recommendations specific to discipline include:

  • Provide a safe environment without relying too much on punitive interventions
  • Provide an environment free of sexual harassment and bullying
  • Revise policies that send girls to the juvenile justice system
  • Identify signs of sexual violence and support girls who have been traumatized
  • Urge the U.S. Department of Education to conduct more research on this topic
  • Support girls who are pregnant, parenting or have familial responsibilities

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