The Influence of Cumulative Child and Environmental Risk on Behavioural Engagement of Primary School Children and The Moderating Role of Gender
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Behavioural engagement is considered to be an important factor for school success, preventing dropping out of school and later academic performance. However, behavioural engagement is assumed to be responsive to child, family, and environmental risk factors. The present study aims to examine the concurrent and longitudinal associations between risk accumulation and behavioural disengagement of children from a normative sample. Furthermore, the concurrent and longitudinal impact of child and environmental risk (at family and neighbourhood level) on behavioural engagement is examined separately. Finally, this study investigates the moderating role of gender in the associations between behavioural disengagement and risk accumulation. In this longitudinal study, data from the project ‘Preventie in de keten’ was used (N=625). The teachers of the participating children filled out a questionnaire which provided information about the presented child and environmental risk factors and behavioural engagement of the child in class. Regression analyses were used to answer the research questions. Results showed that risk accumulation significantly and longitudinally predicted behavioural disengagement, which confirms the findings in the literature. Child risk factors were more predictive of behavioural disengagement than environmental disadvantages (family and neighbourhood factors). No support was found for a moderating role of gender. Conclusions and explanations for the findings are discussed, as well as strengths and limitations of the study and suggestions for follow-up research.