Cumulative Risk and Externalizing Behavior: An Examination of Protective Classroom and Teacher Factors for at Risk Kindergarten Students
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Child development cannot be understood without considering the context of the environment in which development occurs. Exposure to myriad risks in the both the prenatal period and early childhood have the potential to set the course for poor developmental outcomes, including behavior problems, but classroom and teacher factors may provide a potential buffer against externalizing issues in the classroom. Using a secondary analysis of 239 kindergarten students, this study examined the relationship between indices of cumulative risk and teacher reports of externalizing behavior problems. It also examined whether teacher or classroom factors were protective for students at risk for externalizing problems. Higher demographic status risk predicted higher class sizes in kindergarten. In addition, higher levels of early childhood cumulative risk across the first two years of life predicted higher levels of externalizing behavior in kindergarten. However, none of the teacher or classroom factors were related to externalizing behavior problems, and contrary to the hypotheses, teacher or classroom characteristics did not attenuate or amplify the relationship between cumulative risk and externalizing behavior problems.