How School Personnel Can Help Create Positive Relationships and Increased School Connectedness with At-Risk Youth to Better Support Their Social, Emotional, Behavioural, and Academic Need
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At-Risk Youth, those students who are in danger of dropping out of school before graduation, have been a concern for educators for decades. Research has shown that there are numerous contributing factors that lead to a student deciding to drop-out, such as low socio-economic status, absenteeism, delinquency, grade retention, and alcohol and substance abuse. Much effort has gone into identifying those students who may be At-Risk in effort to keep them in school, as failing to achieve a high school diploma comes with many long term consequences. In recent years, School Connectedness has emerged across educational, health, and psychology disciplines as a method to promote healthy social, emotional, and academic outcomes in students. School Connectedness, defined as the belief by students that adults and peers in the school care about their learning as well as about them as individuals, has been proven to have numerous protective factors that support students staying enrolled in school. School Connectedness has been linked to increased academic engagement, positive emotional well-being, decreased absenteeism, and reduced participation in health compromising behaviours. School based personnel and school districts can better support the social, emotional, behavioural, and academic needs of At-Risk Youth through fostering and facilitating School Connectedness. To successfully accomplish this end, teachers, administrators and other school officials need to be familiar with the concept of School Connectedness and the various strategies that promote this feeling in At-Risk Youth. This paper addresses these issues and makes recommendations for actionable processes and strategies that promote, foster, and support School Connectedness.