Spotlighting racism in schools: Teacher mentors and the mediating effect of school safety


Flitner, Anna; McQuillin, Samuel; Kornbluh, Mariah; & Thompson, Daria (2023). Spotlighting racism in schools: Teacher mentors and the mediating effect of school safety. American Journal of Community Psychology.


Abstract Youth are more likely to succeed when they feel safe at school and have access to caring relationships with adults. Systemic racism interrupts access to these assets. Within schools, racially/ethnically minoritized youth encounter policies rooted in racism, leading to decreased perceptions of school safety. Having a teacher mentor may mitigate some of the harmful effects of systemic racism and discriminatory practices. Yet, teacher mentors may not be accessible to all students. In this study, the authors tested a putative explanatory hypothesis for differences between Black and white children's access to teacher mentors. Data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health were used. Linear regression models were used to predict access to teacher mentors, and a mediational analysis was conducted to determine the effect of school safety on the relationship between race and teacher mentor access. Results indicate that students from higher SES backgrounds and those with parents who have greater educational attainment are more likely to have a teacher mentor. Furthermore, Black students are less likely than white students to have a teacher mentor, and school safety mediates that relationship. The implications of this study suggest that challenging institutional racism and structures may improve perceptions of school safety and teacher mentor accessibility.



systemic racism

Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

American Journal of Community Psychology


Flitner, Anna
McQuillin, Samuel
Kornbluh, Mariah
Thompson, Daria

Year Published




Reference ID