In the years since Bronfenbrenner (1977, 1986) outlined his ecological model, researchers have been increasingly encouraged to view development in context. Children live through and develop in multiple contexts, Bronfenbrenner argued, each with the potential to independently, or in interaction with other contexts, influence the ways in which development occurs. As places where American children spend most of their out of home time, neighborhoods and schools are two of the most important contexts for children (Duncan & Raudenbush, 1999) and thus are logical places to examine how contexts affect individual child development.

Given the ever-increasing bodies of work concerned with neighborhood (e.g., Brooks-Gunn, Duncan, & Aber, 1997a, 1997b; Leventhal & Brooks-Gunn, 2000) impacts on children and youth, and the large body of literature examining school effects on academic achievement (e.g., Mayer & Peterson, 1999), in this chapter we restrict our focus to neighborhood and school impacts on children's mental health and risk behaviors. The outcomes we consider include aggression or externalizing disorder symptoms, delinquency, depression or internalizing disorder symptoms, sexual behavior, and drug use.

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