In this piece, Gretchen Brion-Meisels investigates how adolescents conceptualize support in the context of school. Student support systems have become a permanent structure in most U.S. public schools, responsible for ensuring equal access to support services. Unfortunately, little is known about how adolescents make meaning of school-based support. To answer this question, Brion-Meisels explores how urban adolescents in a northeastern city talk about support, paying close attention to the cultural narratives that underlie their conceptions. Analyzing text from survey, interview, and focus group data, she argues that adolescents in the sample both draw on and actively resist dominant societal discourses of support. Findings suggest that support providers would benefit from better understanding the cultural and contextual narratives underlying youth conceptions of support, as well as the individual perspectives of the youth that they serve. In addition, Brion-Meisels contends that adults must shift their own discourses of support if they want to create spaces in which young people feel empowered and safe to seek help.

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