Caregivers' moral narratives of their African American children's out-of-school suspensions: Implications for effective family-school collaborations

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Abstract

In this qualitative study, the authors examined the culturally nuanced meanings of out-of-school suspensions for 30 lower income caregivers of African American children suspended from school. Caregivers were invited to describe their experiences of their children's suspensions during in-depth, individual, audiotaped interviews. Caregivers generally valued their children's school success, recognized when their children had misbehaved, and supported educators' imposition of appropriate consequences. Out-of-school suspensions, however, were rarely viewed as appropriate consequences. On the contrary, caregivers produced emotionally laden moral narratives that generally characterized their children's suspensions as unjust; harmful to children; negligent in helping children with underlying problems such as bullying; undermining parents' racial socialization; and, in general, racially problematic. Suspensions also contributed to some families' withdrawal from participation in their schools. Understanding how caregivers experience children's out-of-school suspensions provides important clues to how families and schools can work together to effectively reduce racial disparities in out-of-school suspensions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-272
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Work (United States)
Volume58
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2013

Keywords

  • African Americans, caregivers' narratives
  • out-of-school suspensions
  • social injustice

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