Graduation Year

2007

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

George M. Batsche, Ed.D.

Keywords

Involuntary, Examination, Psychopathology, District, Demographic

Abstract

The Baker Act is legislation that provides civil rights for individuals suspected of having a mental illness and may be in need of involuntary psychiatric evaluation. Its intent is to prevent the indiscriminate placement of individuals in residential treatment facilities and other restrictive placements. Referrals for involuntary psychiatric evaluation under Baker Act statutes have increased among children and adolescents in recent years, raising concerns related its use with this population. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between school based factors and the use of the Baker Act among children and adolescents. Results indicate that the use of the Baker Act is more prevalent receiving among the high school population, females, Other/mixed children and adolescents, and White children and adolescents. Multiple regression analyses indicated that school district variables (e.g., minority enrollment, graduation rates, out-of-school suspension, etc.) contributed to a statistically significant proportion of the variance in Baker Act ER rates and repeat Baker Act ER rates among the 67 counties in the state of Florida. The percent of students in a district that graduated with a standard diploma was the variables that most consistently contribute to a unique proportion of the variance in Baker Act ER and repeat Baker Act ER rates. The findings from the study have implications for the design of mental health and behavioral support systems for children and adolescents. Additional research is necessary to more closely examine the relationship between demographics, school related variables, and the use of the Baker Act.

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