Astor on Role of Racism in Unsafe Learning Environments

Social Welfare Professor Ron Avi Astor co-authored a Journal of School Health commentary on the importance of factoring in structural racism when developing strategies to prevent school violence. “Microaggressions and bullying associated with skin color can result in a pathway of increased alienation from and decreased engagement in school, both of which can increase the probability of harm to self and others,” wrote Astor and co-author Marc A. Zimmerman of the University of Michigan. Unconscious biases may surface among staff making threat assessments as well as among teachers who send implicit messages that reduce academic motivation among Black, Latino, Native and immigrant students. Economically disadvantaged campuses typically have fewer resources for social and emotional learning, relying instead on target-hardening strategies such as metal detectors and school safety officers — a signal that schools are not a welcoming place. “It is time we pay particular attention to the role racism plays in creating unsafe learning environments for our children,” the authors wrote.

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