Perceptions of teens choosing a virtual high school as a social/emotional safe haven

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Jaso, Sharon L.
Schommer-Aikins, Marlene

Suicide is a national crisis in the United States that claims more teenagers than cancer, heart disease, AIDs, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease combined (Flatt, 2019). Many individual risk factors, as well as the social and environmental context in which they live impacts the decision to complete suicide. Some of the most noted factors in the lives of teens involve situations that take place in schools including bullying, peer pressure, and struggles with mental illness. Brick and mortar schools have long been attempting to train staff to assist students in their setting, but what about the students and families who turn to a virtual school as a safe haven? In this study, Bandura’s theory of reciprocal causation serves as the lens through which student perceptions regarding the impact of moving from a brick and mortar high school to a virtual one in order to find a safe haven are explored. Student interviews, a review of relevant literature, and documents at the school and state levels revealed that there are relational and systemic happenings in the virtual school setting that students are finding effective in providing them with a social and emotional safe haven for high school. The need for continued research, discussion, and training is evident as this relatively new, and ever growing, landscape expands.

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Thesis (Ed.D.)-- Wichita State University, College of Education, Dept. of Counseling, Educational Leadership, Educational and School Psychology