A new study led by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, finds that Black and other minority adolescents from low-income neighborhoods who were admitted to public charter high schools that had strong academic curricula, were less likely than their peers to engage in risky behaviors. The risky behaviors include binge drinking, drug use, gang membership, carrying weapons, and unprotected sex.
The study examined a group of nearly 1,000 students, about half of them who were admitted by lottery to public charter schools and half who were not. The ones admitted to the charter schools were significantly less likely to engage in risky behaviors and went on to perform better on standardized tests
Mitchell Wong, a professor of medicine at UCLA and the lead researcher, states that “these students’ higher cognitive skills may lead them to better health literacy and decision-making. They may be exposed to less negative peer pressure, and the school environment may promote the resilience that steers them away from these risky behaviors. In addition, in a better academic environment students spent more time studying, leaving them less time to engage in risky behaviors.”
The study, “Successful Schools and Risky Behaviors Among Low-Income Adolescents,” was published on the website of the journal Pediatrics. It may be accessed here.