Perceived social support and coping strategies among adolescents: comparing private boarding, private day, and public high schools

Alysia Lynn LaBonte, The College of Wooster


Adolescence is a highly stressful time characterized by new experiences that require certain coping strategies to mediate negative outcomes. This study examined the impact of different high school environments on adolescents' coping strategies, perceived social support, and likelihood to engage in various problem behaviors. Participants were recruited from a private boarding/day school in Connecticut, a private boarding/day school in Ohio, and a public school in Connecticut. Students completed four questionnaires: the Coping Inventory, the Depressive Mood List, the Behavior Inventory for Adolescents, and the Social Support for Adolescents Scale. Significant differences in coping strategies were found between day students and boarding students, however school tended to have an effect in those analyses. Boarding students were more likely to perceive high levels of family support when compared to public school students. Understanding the importance of particular social support choices may allow schools to mediate the negative effects of poor social support and coping choices to better prepare their students for future adjustments such as the transition to college.