The Importance of Student–teacher Relationships Characterized by High Levels of Closeness for Children with Early Externalizing Behaviors and Later Risk–taking




Berke, Elizabeth B.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The purpose of this dissertation was to investigate whether or not the presence of student–teacher relationships characterized by high levels of closeness in the elementary school years can disrupt the pathway between early externalizing behaviors and later risk-taking behaviors. Research has indicated that student–teacher relationships characterized by high levels of closeness can ameliorate the effects of externalizing behavior on later negative outcomes in general (Baker, 2006). Much less is known about the protective effect of student–teacher relationships on risk-taking behavior. The current study aimed to add to the body of research on how student–teacher relationships can act as protective factors for risk-taking behaviors such as delinquency and sexual activity. Longitudinal data was used from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD) to examine outcomes for a diverse population of 1,061 children at grades 3, 5, and then age 15. Findings indicated that early maladaptive behaviors predict later risk-taking in general, and that the student–teacher relationship is predictive of some risky behaviors. The implications of this study are in regard to how we approach intervention to reduce maladaptive behaviors.



Psychology, Developmental psychology, Adolescent, Closeness, Delinquent Behavior, Externalizing behavior, Risk-taking, Student-teacher relationship