Patterns of Home and School Behavior Problems in Rural and Urban Settings

J Sch Psychol. 1998 Apr 1;36(1):45-58. doi: 10.1016/s0022-4405(97)00049-6.


This study examined the cross-situational patterns of behavior problems shown by children in rural and urban communities at school entry. Behavior problems exhibited in home settings were not expected to vary significantly across urban and rural settings. In contrast, it was anticipated that child behavior at school would be heavily influenced by the increased exposure to aggressive models and deviant peer support experienced by children in urban as compared to rural schools, leading to higher rates of school conduct problems for children in urban settings. Statistical comparisons of the patterns of behavior problems shown by representative samples of 89 rural and 221 urban children provided support for these hypotheses, as significant rural-urban differences emerged in school and not in home settings. Cross-situational patterns of behavior problems also varied across setting, with home-only patterns of problems characterizing more children at the rural site and school-only, patterns of behavior problems characterizing more children at the urban sites. In addition, whereas externalizing behavior was the primary school problem exhibited by urban children, rural children displayed significantly higher rates of internalizing problems at school. The implications of these results are discussed for developmental models of behavior problems and for preventive interventions.