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Policies governing education in North America have given schools the responsibility of meeting the needs of a diverse student population, including those with emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD). To balance their need for individualized programs with their right to inclusion in schools, students with EBD may be placed in alternate programs within a mainstream school setting. However, little is known about student experiences leading to this placement or their experiences in these programs. The purpose of this study was to explore youth’s perceptions of the factors that influenced their being placed in an alternate program for students with EBD. Six eighth-grade students participated in semi-structured interviews and created a visual map of their school trajectories. An interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) of the data suggested that their schooling was a tumultuous journey that contributed to their emotional, behavioural, and academic struggles, and to their placement in an alternate school program. Students described disrupted school services, lack of supports, a negative school climate, and disengaging instructional strategies as contributing to their difficulties. An understanding of the influence of school context and policy on student behaviour is necessary if we are to improve educational outcomes and properly support child and adolescent development.


This article was originally published Open Access in International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.


International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License


Copyright © 2016 Liane Pereira, Jennifer Lavoie