school corridor

Inclusive professional actors are important for upper secondary school students using alcohol and drugs

That teachers, student coordinators, counsellors, head teachers, and members of the student health service are inclusive, engaged, empathetic, and respectful is momentous for creating a positive change among pupils in upper secondary school using alcohol and drugs. This is shown by a new research study from Linnaeus University.

Research stress that various types of school problems among students may lead to an increased risk of alcohol and drug use in adulthood, with all that can entail. The problems often originate in low self-esteem, which leads to problematic relationships with teachers and schoolmates, low attendance, and poor academic performance.

A study by associate professor Goran Basic at Linnaeus University and two colleagues from school and treatment contexts contributes to new knowledge in this area. The study is based on interviews with 13 upper secondary school pupils who use alcohol or drugs. Also interviewed are 36 professional actors working with such pupils, in school and in different outpatient treatment units.

Interactions are of great importance

The results show that the power interactions in the student narratives about professional actors are presented as significant for the young people’s inclusion, learning, change, discipline, and identity creation and re-creation.

“The pupils depict some professional actors as important – they are described as inclusive, engaged, empathetic, and respectful. These aspects seem to be especially important for the inclusion of these students in a learning context and for achieving positive change”, says Goran Basic.

Poor treatment excludes

But the opposite is also a reality – actors who, for example, exhibit poor treatment, do not show a caring approach, and favour students with a Swedish ethnic background. In the worst case, this can be excluding and lead to the invisibility of the pupil.

“All the important prerequisites for achieving social pedagogical recognition in the pupil-professional relationship are absent in the verbal portrayals when important professional actors, such as teachers, student coordinators, counsellors, head teachers, and members of the student health service, are re-created as uninvolved, unsupportive, uninspiring, exclusionary, and invisible in relation to pupils who use alcohol and drugs”, says Goran Basic.

More information