Exploring the Lived Experience of Youth Who Have Been Suspended From Secondary School: A Narrative Inquiry
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Despite empirical evidence suggesting that out of school suspensions do more harm than good, they are still commonplace in education system. According to the Ontario Ministry of Education, 33,030 secondary school students were suspended during the 2017-2018 academic year. Students who have been suspended are at an increased risk for future suspensions and are less likely to complete secondary school (Nichols, 2004). The purpose of this study was to document, analyze and interpret the lived experience of youth who have been suspended one or more times from an Ontario secondary school and hear their voices. The data for this narrative inquiry was collected through three in depth semi-structured interviews with each one of the three participants. The interviews audio-recorded, transcribed and analyzed using constant comparative analysis. The common themes of aspirations and feeling ignored and excluded spanned all participant narratives. Findings also identified a third theme. For two participants, this was the theme of childhood adversity, and for one participant, the third theme was parental support and expectations. The narratives were originally intended to be viewed through a self-efficacy lens; however, an inductive framework helped draw more meaning from the participant stories. Therefore, the narratives were also viewed through a temporal- needs threat model of ostracism. This study responds to the gap in the literature by hearing the voices of those often not heard and makes sense of youths’ experiences with suspension. The findings can help to increase educator understanding of youths’ experiences and underscores the need for more research.