Effect of Behavior Disorder Placement
On the Child’s Self-Concept



INTRODUCTION
Throughout history, humans have sought to explain and to treat behaviors that were considered deviant. As a special educator working with students with behavior disorders, I realized it was important to research the effects labeling may have on the student’s self-concept.
Historically treatment of behavior disorders fell into three very broad places: segregation (hospitals and asylums), transition phase (treatment and establishing training schools), and service phase (individuals become functional members of society). In the service phase, legislation such as PL94-142, or the Education of All Handicapped Children Act, guaranteed all children between the ages of 3 and 21 a free, appropriate education in the less restrictive environment. This law was later changed to IDEA, or Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. IDEA addressed the area of the educational environment. Education was to be provided in the less restrictive environment or an environment that limits the amount of isolation of the handicapped students from the peers of the population at large. The environment can range from the mainstreamed or “regular” classroom to the full-time self-contained special education classroom. Ideally, the regular classroom was the goal for most students. PL94-142 and IDEA gave the legislative means to ensure the appropriate education for disabled students so that they may lead an equivalent life to the nondisabled student.
Behavior disorders is one of many disabilities covered in IDEA. Behavior disorders refers to those students who have been tested and labeled as having inappropriate behaviors. However, the criteria for identifying a problem behavior depend largely on the frequency, duration, and intensity of the specific behavior(s). Many behavior disorder students are taken out of the mainstream classroom and placed in an isolated classroom or even a residential school.
It may be assumed that the “least restrictive” portion of IDEA would be enough to limit the stigma placed on the student receiving the behavior disorders/emotional disturbed label,

Effect of Behavior Disorder Placement
On the Child’s Self-Concept


leading to normal socialization and self-perception with other students. The terms behavior disorders and emotionally disturbed have come under scrutiny by educators because of their stigmatizing labels. However, the behavior disorder term has become more acceptable because it is seen as less stigmatizing, less severe, more socially acceptable, and more practical than the term emotionally disturbed. While trying to provide the necessary services through the BD label, the education system actually provided a way for nondisabled students to identify the BD/ED student. Unintentionally, the mandate or IDEA singled out these exceptional children by having them leave the mainstream to receive services throughout the day and then return to the inquisitive, regular classroom. The legislation that was designed to protect the BD student may now be a harmful stigmatization.
Self-concept is the perception of one’s self, including the attitude, feelings, and knowledge about one’s skills, abilities, appearance, and social acceptability (Chapman, 1988). It is widely held that the self-concept is centrally involved in the learning process, either as a contributing cause or an important outcome. In essence, a student’s self concept is seen as influencing behavior outcomes through its effect on motivation. People who hold positive self-perceptions are more likely to have appropriate behaviors when faced with challenging or difficult tasks. On the other hand, students who feel relatively worthless and ineffectual tend to reduce their effort to behave or give up when challenging tasks occur (Chapman, 1988).
This study will assume that socialization is an ongoing process from birth until death. For this study the adolescent formation period from 11 through 16 years old age was chosen to determine if self perception was affected for students with behavior disorders differently from that of their nondisabled peer group. This particular age group was chosen since it appears to be a metamorphic interval between childhood and adulthood.

Effect of Behavior Disorder Placement
On the Child’s Self-Concept Page 3

STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The purpose of this study is to determine if there is a significant difference in self-concept between behavior disorder students and nondisabled students during the adolescent ages of eleven through sixteen, or grades six through ten. Behavior disorder is defined as students with inappropriate behaviors which depend largely on frequency, duration, and intensity. Students without a behvior disorder label will be defined as those without referrals for behavior problems and