Peer Contexts in Schools: Avenues Toward Behavioral Health in Early Adolescence

Elise Cappella, Sophia H J Hwang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Peer contexts play an important role in the behavioral health of early adolescents in schools. Behavioral health involves the observable academic and social behaviors that relate to and influence youths' subsequent health and development. Setting-level research on peer networks and social norms indicates these aspects of peer contexts vary by peer group, classroom, and school and dynamically relate to individual students' academic and social behaviors. Yet, although peer contexts are both influential and potentially malleable, little research examines the effects of school and classroom interventions on the development and maintenance of positive and productive peer contexts in schools. The current article identifies school structures and classroom processes theorized to directly or indirectly shift peer networks and social norms - and thereby increase the behavioral health of early adolescents in schools. We discuss the need for more rigorous and relevant research to better understand the role of schools and classrooms in strengthening these peer contexts and promoting behavioral health in early adolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-89
Number of pages10
JournalBehavioral Medicine
Volume41
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 3 2015

Keywords

  • behavioral health
  • early adolescence
  • peer context
  • school intervention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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