Handbook of Children, Culture, and Violence
Publication Year: 2008
The Handbook of Children, Culture, and Violence provides a comprehensive, interdisciplinary examination of childhood violence that considers children as both consumers and perpetrators of violence, as well as victims of it. This Handbook is the first single volume to consider situations when children are responsible for violence, rather than focusing exclusively on occasions when they are victimized.
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
Part I: Children as Victims
- Chapter 1: Child Witnessing of Domestic Violence
- Chapter 2: Domestic Violence and Child Protection: Confronting the Dilemmas in Moving from Family Court to Dependency Court
- Chapter 3: Sexually Predatory Parents and the Children in Their Care: Remove the Threat, Not the Child
- Chapter 4: Exposure to Pornography as a Cause of Child Sexual Victimization
- Chapter 5: Statutory Rape: An Empirical Examination of Claims of “Overreaction”
- Chapter 6: Mitigating the Impact of Publicity on Child Crime Victims and Witnesses
Part II: Children as Consumers of Violence
- Chapter 7: The Violent Shadows of Children's Culture
- Chapter 8: A Preliminary Demography of Television Violence
- Chapter 9: Protecting Children's Welfare in an Anxiety-Provoking Media Environment
- Chapter 10: The Impact of Violent Music on Youth
- Chapter 11: How Real is the Problem of TV Violence? Research and Policy Perspectives
- Chapter 12: Violent Video Games: Effects on Youth and Public Policy Implications
- Chapter 13: Positive Features of Video Games
- Chapter 14: Children, Adolescents, and the Culture of Online Hate
- Chapter 15: Constitutional Obstacles to Regulating Violence in the Media
Part III: Children as Perpetrators of Violence
- Chapter 16: Peer Victimization: The Nature and Prevalence of Bullying Among Children and Youth
- Chapter 17: Bullying and Violence in American Schools
- Chapter 18: Judging Juvenile Responsibility: A Social Ecological Perspective
- Chapter 19: Adult Punishment for Juvenile Offenders: Does it Reduce Crime?
- Chapter 20: Psychopathy Assessment and Juvenile Justice Mental Health Evaluations
- Chapter 21: Cleaning up Toxic Violence: An EcoGenerist Paradigm
Copyright © 2006 by Sage Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Sage Publications, Inc.
2455 Teller Road
Thousand Oaks, California 91320
Sage Publications Ltd.
1 Oliver'32 Yard
55 City Road
London EC1Y 1SP
Sage Publications India Pvt. Ltd.
B-42, Panchsheel Enclave
Post Box 4109
New Delhi 110 017 India
Printed in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Handbook of children, culture, and violence / edited by Nancy E. Dowd, Dorothy G. Singer, Robin Fretwell Wilson.
Includes bibliographical references and indexes.
ISBN 1—4129—1369—1 (cloth)
1. Children and violence. 2. Children—Crimes against. 3. Violence in children. 4. Violence in popular culture. I. Dowd, Nancy E., 1949— II. Singer, Dorothy G. III. Wilson, Robin Fretwell.
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
05 06 07 08 09 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Acquisitions Editor: Jim Brace-Thompson
Editorial Assistant: Karen Ehrmann
Production Editor: Kristen Gibson
Copy Editor: Teresa Herlinger
Typesetter: C&M Digitals (P) Ltd.
Cover Designer: Michelle Lee
To Myrtle Sweet, Alice Fretwell, and Glen R. W. Wilson II for being such wonderful examples.—Robin
To Jerry, with gratitude for all your support.—Dorothy
To Zoe and Zack.—Nancy
Tables and Figures[Page vii][Page viii]
Introduction[Page ix]Nancy E.Dowd
Every day, 9 children are homicide victims and 20 die from firearms. Every day, nearly 8,000 children are reported as abused or neglected. Every day, over 4,000 children are arrested, 180 for violent crimes, and 367 children for drug abuse. Over 17,000 children are suspended each day from school. Every day, Black and Hispanic children are disproportionately more of the victims and more of the perpetrators (Children's Defense Fund, 2004).
Children are the victims of violence, and the perpetrators of violence, in staggering numbers. Violence in the lives of children is so pervasive that it might even be conceived of as a kind of terrorism. Unlike the difficulties that face us in combating foreign or domestic terrorism, however, violence that victimizes children, or that children engage in, is a problem that can more easily be confronted, and it is a problem that adults and society must solve. This volume is an effort to bring multidisciplinary expertise to bear on the complex issues involved in the intersection between children, culture, and violence, and to suggest directions for public policy.
Violence pierces the lives of all of our children, sometimes in multiple ways. Children and young adults are more at risk of victimization from violence than any other age group. Gun-related deaths are the second leading cause of death for persons age 15 to 19; they are the leading cause of death of African American and Hispanic youth of all ages under 18. Over 90% of known juvenile homicide offenders are male (America's Children, 2001; Rennison, 2001; Snyder & Sickmund, 1999, as cited in Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, n.d.). The U.S. homicide rate for males age 15 to 24 is the highest among developed countries, and is 8 times higher than the rate of the next-highest country (Glicklich-Rosenberg, 1996). While gun deaths are the most dramatic form of victimization, the most common forms of personal violence come from family and peers. This includes adult abuse and neglect as well as adult assaults; sibling assaults; and peer intimidation, bullying, harassment, and assaults (Lewit & Baker, 1996). Victimization is not limited to being the victim of direct or indirect physical threat or harm. Violence in children's lives also includes witnessing violence to others and witnessing or experiencing violence in our culture, particularly from television and other media (Brown & Bzostek, 2003).
Children are especially vulnerable in their homes. The place that should be a sanctuary, where children are the most dependent and which is most private and hidden from public view, is a common place where children are physically victimized. Younger children are particularly at risk. Child abuse and neglect is more frequent than one might imagine. Nearly a million children are abused by their parents each year; in 2002, the estimated number was 896,000 children (United States Department of Health and Human [Page x]Services, 2004). Double that number are victims of neglect (Hill, Rugs, & Young, 2004, as cited in National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse Prevention, 1999). The data on victimization are disputed by some, but there is no doubt that children's victimization from abuse and neglect can be fatal: in 2000, there were 1,137 child fatalities from abuse and neglect nationally (Child Welfare League of America, 2001). Over half a million children are in foster care, a number that continues to rise, and one-fifth of those children at any time are waiting for a permanent adoptive placement and hoping for a home free of direct violence toward them (Child Welfare League of America, 2001).
The rate of less direct violence is also high. Annually, an estimated 3.3 million children witness domestic violence in their homes (Edelson, as cited in Carlson, 1984). If a child's mother or father is being battered, the child is more likely to be hurt as well, or to be a victim of neglect (Edelson, 1999). Not only do children suffer physically, they also suffer higher alcohol and drug abuse problems, juvenile delinquency, cognitive and developmental problems, and speech and language problems (Edelson, 1997). Tragically, as adults, those who witnessed domestic violence as children may commit domestic violence themselves, repeating the pattern they have experienced. Boys are more likely to be batterers if they have grown up with a man who batters, and girls are more likely to be victimized when they have seen their mothers battered (A Safe Place, n.d.).
Children are also subject to violence in their schools. Children are targets for racial and sexual harassment, homophobic harassment and violence toward gay and lesbian youth, and bullying. Bullying is widespread: one survey given to children in Grades 3 through 8 found that 75% of the children reported being bullied in the past month (Walls, 1998). Sexual harassment is also commonplace. According to a 2001 American Association of University Women (AAUW) study, four of every five students in eighth through eleventh grades report some kind of sexual harassment in school (defined in the AAUW study as “unwanted and unwelcome sexual behavior that interferes with your life. Sexual harassment is not behavior that you like or want, for example, wanted kissing, touching, or flirting”), with the percentages for boys (79%) nearly as high as that for girls (83%) (AAUW, 2001). Half of the surveyed students admit to being harassers as well (AAUW, 2001). Gay and lesbian students suffer even more pervasively from bullying and harassment (Human Rights Watch, 2001). Racism continues to pervade our schools 50 years after Brown v. Board of Education was decided. The rate of residential segregation is as high or higher than 50 years ago, which is closely linked to ongoing de facto racial segregation as well as educational inequality (Dowd, 2005). Racial harassment, including racial slurs but also physical acts of violence, varies significantly by race, with rates as high as 50% among children of color (Anderson, Attwood & Howard, 2004; Reis, Mendoza & Takamura, n.d.; Rosenbloom, 2004). “Everyday racism” (meaning daily acts of micro-aggression and devaluation), that may not be considered racial harassment but which strongly affects children's well-being, continues to be part of the culture in which children must function (Feagin, Early, & McKinney, 2001).
In its most extreme manifestation, school violence can lead to eruptions of vengeance like Columbine and other school shootings. Violence in schools has shifted from primarily urban settings, linked to gang-related disputes and disputes between individual students, to more severe and widespread violence that involves urban, suburban, and rural schools. Victims remain predominantly male but no longer disproportionately involve young men of color (‘Youth Violence,— 2001).
[Page xi]Some children are also victimized on the streets in their communities. Although children age 12–19 constitute only 14% of the population, they are victims in 3 of 10 crimes, and 1 in 4 thefts (Finkelhor, Paschall, & Hasinma, 2001; Snyder & Sickmund, 1999). Some children live in communities with higher rates of violence, where drive-by shootings and other acts of street violence are commonplace, drug selling is omnipresent, and life expectancy for the young is short (Stop the Violence, n.d.). Street gangs exist in nearly all communities with a population of over 100,000, and their presence directly raises the homicide risk for the children in those communities. Membership in a gang increases one's risk of homicide by 60% (Hixon, 1999).
It is not an accident that children are disproportionately victimized by violence—it is precisely because they are children that they are victims. Their very status makes them targets. For example, child homicide victims most commonly are either very young or are adolescents. The highest rate of homicides is among very young children, particularly infants. Very young children most frequently die at the hands of family members, while adolescents are most commonly killed by acquaintances (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1995, as cited in Lewit & Baker, 1996). Within children as a group, moreover, certain children are more likely to be victims than others, reflecting inequalities of gender, race, and class. Females are more likely at any age to be the victim of sexual abuse and assault (Wilson, this volume). For most other kinds of violence, males are at much higher risk. Black children are at greater risk for homicide, abuse, and neglect; they are also more likely than children of other races to be victims of assault or robbery. Black children watch considerably more television than other children and therefore are exposed to more media violence. “Among 8th graders in 2001, 62% of black students watched four or more hours of TV on an average weekday, compared to 22% of white students. Similarly, large differences are evident for 10th and 11th grade students, though the levels are lower” (Brown & Bzostek, 2003).
Children are also perpetrators of violence at an alarming rate. Young persons between the ages of 12 and 17 are responsible for approximately 20 to 25% of serious violent crime (“Youth Victims and Perpetrators,” n.d.). Children, including those under age 12, sexually assault other children at a high rate. In 2001, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, 4,600 juveniles were arrested for forcible rape and 18,000 for other sexual offenses, representing 17% and 20%, respectively, of all arrests in those categories (Snyder, 2003). The link between juvenile sex offenses and adult sex offenses is strong: the majority of adult offenders report a history of sex offenses before age 18 (Shaw, 1999). The other strong link is between offenders and their own victimization as children: sexual abuse was present for 92–95% of adult sexual offenders, with 100% of female offenders reporting abuse, and 50–75% of male offenders. This abuse was predominantly by family members, most commonly fathers (Araji, 1997, as cited in Concepción, 2004).
The level of child-to-child violence is reflected in the number of children and youth who carry lethal weapons. In a 1999 study, almost 20% of students had carried a weapon during the prior 30 days, and males were far more likely to do so than females (Kann, Kinchen, Williams, et al., 2000, as cited in Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, n.d.). One study of juvenile arrestees found that more than two thirds claimed their primary reason for carrying a weapon was self-protection (Decker, Pennell, & Caldwell, 1997).
Those who enter the juvenile justice system most often, and who receive the most serious sanctions, are Black males. One in three Black males is in the juvenile system. Although Black youth make up approximately 25% of [Page xii]the juveniles arrested, they are roughly half of those tried as adults and also half of those housed in state prisons (Jacobs, 2004).
The data concerning juvenile violence must be linked to the record of child victimization. Particularly disheartening is the link between childhood victimization and violent acts by these victims. The same children who are brutally harmed frequently use violence as the way to feel empowered, becoming child or adult perpetrators. The failure to deal with childhood victimization by redirecting early violent acts has the predictable consequence of continuing the cycle of violence against children. The victimization of children and their acts of violence also are linked to cultural messages about violence that are part of children's socialization. Children are victimized not solely by physical violence, or even verbal, emotional, or psychological abuse. They also are harmed by a popular culture saturated with violence that contributes to the possibility of physical or other forms of direct victimization. The role of culture in socializing both children and adults to accept and participate in violent acts rather than peaceful resolutions is among the most troubling aspects of the relationship between children and violence. Violent culture can be another form of victimization because of its direct negative effect on children as they develop. Our culture may contribute to children being violent, either as children or when they become adults.
Children on average watch 3 to 4 hours of television daily (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2001). Some surveys find an even higher average of up to 6.5 hours daily (Woodard & Gridina, 2000). According to one study, there are on average 20 violent incidents per hour of children's programming (American Psychological Association, n.d.). In addition, there is considerable racial and sexual stereotyping. Extensive research indicates a link between viewing television violence and increased aggressiveness in children (Kunkel & Zwarun, this volume). In addition, studies show that children become desensitized to violence, accept it as a way to solve problems, imitate the violence that they watch, and identify with particular characters who may be victims or victimizers (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2001; American Psychological Association, n.d.). Children spend more time watching media than they do attending school. The cumulative effect is staggering. Based on an assumption of 28 hours of television per week, the average American child “by the age of 18 will have seen 16,000 simulated murders and 200,000 acts of violence” (American Psychiatric Association, n.d).
If children are not watching television, they may be spending their time on computers, watching videotaped movies, playing video games, or surfing the Internet. The average time spent on these alternate forms of media, in addition to television, is 4 hours per child per day (Youth Violence, 2001). While children ages 2–18 overall “consume” 5.5 hours daily of some form of media (including television, video games, the Internet, or other forms), the highest rates of consumption are found among children ages 8–13 (Kaiser Foundation, 1999). Even children under age 6 average 2 hours daily (Kaiser Foundation, 2005). First introduced in the 1970s, video games are now a fixture in our culture. They are also another source of violence directed at children. Studies show that those who play prefer violent games over nonviolent games, and that the level of violence in games has increased (Anderson & Bushman, 2001). The impact of gaming is similar to that of television, particularly the fact that it increases aggressiveness (Anderson & Bushman, 2001; Cesarone, 1994). The average child plays 90 minutes of video games every day. Boys game more than girls do, and games have a strong gender message that is attached to stereotypical gender roles [Page xiii](Children Now, 2000). Women are victims, with Black women victimized twice as often as White women (Children Now, 2001). The games are infused with racial stereotypes: the majority of heroes are White males, while men of color are limited to sports competitors or villains.
The presence of violence in culture is a delicate and difficult subject. It is delicate because it quickly generates concerns about free speech. Music can be a powerful language of protest and criticism, while it can also celebrate subordination and objectification. Protest can be voiced in ugly, profane, offensive language as a tool to gain attention and provoke, or such language may be used purely for shock value for commercial gain. Political protest can be commingled with misogynist, racist, or homophobic speech. Similarly, the Internet is the epitome of the free marketplace of ideas. It provides vast amounts of information and creative opportunity to children. It permits the articulation of ideas and the organization of citizens from the grass roots. But that same freedom can permit rampant racism and sexism, and predatory acts intended to victimize children. It is difficult to deal with these aspects of our culture because we may either assume conclusions or ignore contradictions between the presence of violence and the link to children as victims or as perpetrators. Culture is a constantly evolving, created piece of society. Arguably the solutions to cultural problems lie within society, not in laws or regulations. It is essential to explore mediating influences to the presence of violence as well as the difficult question of how to change culture without inhibiting it.
Culture can become an easy scapegoat for concerns about children as perpetrators of violence, when there are other explanations that would require a different or additional focus of policy. Poverty is powerfully associated with a range of factors that contribute to violence and which in turn perpetuate poverty. In 2002, the federal poverty guideline was $18,100 for a family of four (United States Department of Health and Human Services, 2002). That year, one in six American children were poor; by race, nearly one third of Black and Hispanic children and 10% of White children were poor (Children's Defense Fund, 2004). Racism is a powerful generator of violence and has had catastrophic effects, particularly on Black boys and men. Similar roles are played by sexism and homophobia. Both poverty and hatred can justifiably be seen as forms of violence as well as factors that contribute to violence toward children or the violent behavior of children. Our focus in this collection on culture is not intended to deny the powerful impact of these and other factors, but rather to focus more specifically on the link between culture and violence.
The challenge that this volume seeks to address is the interlocking nature of violence, culture, and children, in order to suggest short-term and long-term ways to combat violence. Understanding the nexus between violence and culture is critical to better addressing the policy issues in this area. It is also critical to ground policy in empirical data and to draw on a multidisciplinary approach as essential to effective problem solving. Legal approaches may be tempting in many instances, but as this book reveals, they often are a shortsighted, inadequate response. What is needed is far more comprehensive if children are not to be permanently scarred by violence.
Children's dependency on adults makes them vulnerable. Society is obligated to do better for its children, for their own sake and for the sake of the larger society. The elimination of violence or its reduction in the lives of children is a high priority, a precondition for many other essential needs. It has a direct impact on both the future of children and the future of society.[Page xiv]Plan of the Book
This handbook is representative of the range of ways that children intersect with violence and culture. It presents empirical data, theoretical grounding, and policy recommendations. A multidisciplinary approach is critical to effective public policy in this area.
The book is divided into three parts that consider children as victims, as consumers, and as perpetrators of violence. Dorothy Singer's Prologue is an essential context for all that follows because it reminds us that children must be considered in a developmental context. What is frightening to a 4-year-old may have an entirely different effect on a 10-year-old or an adolescent. How we understand the impact of direct or indirect violence, of various cultural modes, and violent acts by children, mandates that we understand children's basic developmental stages and capabilities. Developmental differences may inform the construction of policy differently for preschoolers than high school students. It can also frame expectations of veracity and reliability when children testify in legal proceedings, whether they are victims of or eyewitnesses to violence. Singer discusses children's intellectual, social, and emotional development in the preschool, elementary school, middle school, and high school years.
Part I, Children as the Victims of Violence, explores the experiences of children as victims, in the context of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and child abuse. Naomi Cahn begins with an exploration of the implications of children witnessing domestic violence. Only in the last decade have courts and researchers focused on witnessing; previously only direct victimization was considered harmful. Cahn details the empirical evidence that children who witness domestic violence may suffer significant short-term and long-term cognitive, emotional, and physical effects. Courts have begun to respond to these harms to children by considering the implications for custody, visitation, and other relevant legal issues. After critically evaluating recent legislative efforts and the application of existing statutes to deal with the harms of witnessing, Cahn suggests that four critical principles must guide policy and practice in this area. First, the harms from witnessing domestic violence must be taken seriously. Second, the relationships that children have with the battered adult should be fostered and supported. Direct victims should not be subjected to blame and separation from their children. Third, the safety of children and the adult victim should be the most important consideration in any proceeding. Finally, batterers should be held to account for the harm of children witnessing violence to another family member. Implementation of these principles would require statutory reform as well as changes in the application of the law, which Cahn suggests in the conclusion of her chapter.
The powerful arguments raised by domestic violence advocates may lead, however, to unintended consequences for children. Tom Lyon and Mindy Mechanic examine the contradictory forces that may treat victims of domestic violence as inadequate parents from whom children should be removed, as an unintended result of persuasive data used to justify limiting the custody rights of batterers. The cogency of the arguments like those raised by Cahn and others might logically be extended, in other words, to justify greater intervention in the family in dependency actions to prevent actual harms or potential risks to children. The correlation between battering of adults and abuse of children is high, suggesting significant risk for children when battering of adults occurs. Moreover, as Cahn's chapter demonstrates, witnessing alone is harmful. Finally, the underlying dynamic of battering is a poor foundation for parenting. Yet as Lyon and Mechanic point out, automatic intervention is unjustified. Such intervention blames the [Page xv]victim and fails to recognize the difficult choices facing adult victims of domestic violence and the consequences for children. The policy issue is whether intervention should mean removal or some alternative, effective system of support for children as well as the adult victim. Fundamentally, Lyon and Mechanic raise the question of how the cycle of violence can be broken or avoided within the context of legal and social institutions that are arguably inadequate for adults but are even worse for children.
Robin Wilson discusses a related issue of intervention and policy in the context of child sexual abuse. Wilson argues for stronger state intervention in the context of incest. Based on the empirical data about offenders, Wilson contends the evidence of potential risk for other children in the household is so overwhelming that as a matter of policy, an adult who commits incest should be removed from the household. Wilson documents the evidence that parents who commit incest rarely stop with one child. Courts, however, frequently ignore this evidence, she points out, and fail to adequately protect other siblings from parents who are sexual predators. In particular, courts sometimes disagree about whether a sex offender will victimize biological children as much as stepchildren, and whether they will victimize sons as well as daughters. The data indicate, however, that these distinctions are irrelevant: once one child is victimized, others are at significant risk. Wilson argues that the policy of dealing with this problem simply by engaging in risk assessment is an incomplete solution, because all other children are at risk. She advocates a more radical, fundamental response that would exclude the offender from the household. This approach is widespread in the United Kingdom, providing a template for the United States. Wilson evaluates this approach and urges its adoption on a wide scale in the United States.
Diana Russell and Natalie Purcell explore the very definition of what constitutes child sexual abuse in their chapter on child pornography. Russell and Purcell argue that non-computer-generated pornographic photographs of children are a form of child sexual abuse because the impact of viewing child pornography is demonstrably likely to support acts of child sexual abuse by juvenile and adult males. The social science data that substantiate the effect of child pornography should, they argue, be the basis for prosecution of child abuse. According to Russell and Purcell, the data demonstrate that when males view child pornography, it has three effects that victimize children. First, it predisposes some males to want to sexually abuse children, or intensifies previously existing predispositions in some males. Second, child pornography undermines some males' internal inhibitions against their desire to sexually abuse children. Third, child pornography undermines some males' social inhibition against their desire to sexually abuse children. While all of these effects are significant, Russell and Purcell especially underscore the harm of child pornography in reorienting boys and men to victimize children when they previously had no inclination to sexually abuse children. The logical implication of these effects would be to link this data to redraft child abuse statutes or consider whether in their current form they could be applied to child pornography.
Whether the state effectively uses statutory rape to deal with sexual crimes against children is the focus of the chapter by Ross Cheit and Laura Braslow. Statutory rape has been a controversial subject because of the historically strongly gendered construction of the criminal prohibition. Originally devised to protect only girls, statutes are now gender neutral but nonetheless are disproportionately applied when the victims are girls. Some have argued that imposing strict liability for sex with young girls imposes the state's views [Page xvi]of sexuality on young women and, indirectly, young men. In addition, some would contend that modern sexual mores among teenagers makes prosecution for statutory rape an ineffective weapon to prevent “young love.” On the other hand, others argue that the statutes are necessary to protect against sexual predators and, in particular, the victimization of young girls by older teenagers or adult men. Cheit and Braslow examine these conflicting views by evaluating the data on statutory rape in Rhode Island for an 18-year period from 1985 to 2002 against the backdrop of existing studies on teen sexuality, teen pregnancy, and statutory rape. Their data strongly contradict the view that statutory rape prosecutions are aimed at “young lovers” who simply violate social norms. To the contrary, they found that statutory rape arrests and prosecutions are relatively rare, sentences are lenient, and the relationships at issue do not appear to be good, positive relationships. They suggest that criminal prosecution of statutory rape is underutilized for the real harm it was intended to prevent, while substituting for other harms when prosecution for child abuse or rape would be more appropriate. One set of data presented in this chapter suggests that the crime is not taken seriously, as the cases frequently are not referred for prosecution and, for those that are, offenders rarely do time. A second set of data suggests that the relationships involved commonly have large age differences and are not dating relationships, undermining the idea that prosecutions are intrusions into healthy adolescent relationships. Collectively the data support the view that the sexual crimes against children that statutory rape was intended to sanction are serious, but that prosecution under existing statutes is not taken seriously.
In a wide range of contexts where children are victims, their participation in the criminal justice system should generate special solicitude. In the concluding chapter to Part I, Charles Putnam and David Finkelhor argue for uniform laws to protect the identities of child victims and witnesses from public disclosure and publicity. The range of situations in which children can be victimized, as well as the developmental context that must be considered in order to help children, are essential when evaluating children's privacy interests. As Putnam and Finkehor point out, children and adolescents are frequent crime victims. In fact, children and adolescents are twice as likely as adults to be crime victims. With respect to sex offenses, they are 75% of the victims that come to the attention of police. If the perpetrator of the crime is a juvenile, then the perpetrator and victim are shielded from public view. If the perpetrator is an adult, however, we value public scrutiny, and that exposes children to such scrutiny, including media attention. The identity of the child and details of the crime may be disclosed, whether the child is the victim or a witness. Putnam and Finkelhor explore the data on the effects of publicity on children; the history of our legal traditions shielding certain participants in the legal system; current statutory approaches to protecting the privacy interests of children; and non-statutory means to protect children. They conclude that the most effective response to protecting children from identified harm is through the adoption of strong, uniform statutory protection to shield the identity of child victims and witnesses. In the conclusion of their chapter, Putnam and Finkelhor set forth detailed specifications of what such legislation should include.
Part II, Children as Consumers of Violence, moves from considering children as direct victims of violence to examining the interaction of children with culture. Claims of harm may be grounded on the impact of violence on children in the process of their development, fostering violent tendencies or violent problem solving. Harm may also be based on the argument that violence in our [Page xvii]culture fosters violent acts in adults who then victimize children because they are children. This section examines violence in the cultural forms to which children are most frequently exposed. It is a picture of complexity and even contradiction, rather than one of easy analysis.
John Cech begins by reminding us that when considering violent speech or violent culture, we tend to think of movies, television, the Internet, and video games, but we should also think about children's literature. As Cech points out, violence is a staple of children's literature, including the most famous and classic children's stories—Aesop's Fables, Mother Goose, the Brothers Grimm—as well as contemporary adolescent novels. In his well-known study of fairy tales, Bruno Bettelheim argues that violent endings in fairy tales clarify the consequences of good and evil: good is rewarded and evil is harshly punished. Cech provides us both with perspective and challenge, pointing out the persistent presence of violence in literature. He therefore suggests the impact of regulation would affect this form of culture as well. His work also raises the issue of what purpose violence serves in literature, and other cultural realms.
Nancy Signorielli's examination of violence in prime-time television echoes Cech's point that violence can have many different purposes in narrative. Signorielli focuses on the role and purpose of violence in context. Rather than simply looking to see if violence is present in a program, Signorielli focuses on violence as a plot element. She examines who does the hurting or killing, and who gets hurt or killed, particularly from the perspectives of gender, age, race, and occupation. Her concern is not merely with the presence of violence but also with what else it might communicate about power and victimization, threat and protection. Her analysis of the effects of violence on children is therefore a more nuanced, sophisticated examination of the messages about self conveyed by violence. She finds that more men than women, more Whites than minorities, and more middle-aged than younger characters are involved in violence. Although men formerly outnumbered women in television violence, women now have parity in their association with violent programming. Those who watch more television tend to see the world as more violent than it actually is; they also get messages about the distribution of power and the place of people who look like them in the pecking order. Children, who are consistently among the victimized, get the message of their powerlessness. Very young children, under 7, may see the way out of their powerlessness as being like certain cartoon characters, who commit “sanitized” violence that has little real effects and is defended as morally justified.
Joanne Cantor redirects our attention to the effects on children of violence in the media, particularly television, and suggests strategies for coping with those effects that maximize the role of parents while casting media and community in supportive roles. Cantor focuses on the well-established data showing that exposure to violence in the media increases anxiety, and links that to data establishing a general increase in anxiety levels of children and adults in the last half of the 20th century. While media violence is not the only cause of that increased anxiety, it is nevertheless a significant one. The combination of real and media violence has lasting effects on young people. Regulating media violence continues to be controversial. Cantor advocates providing essential information about violence to parents and others so that the effects can be better mediated. Cantor sees parents and other caregivers as critical educators of children, to regulate programming and help children cope with psychological effects. Media can be helpful by supporting parents' role with information regarding programming well in advance. Cantor also suggests that the media need to be better advised about child-friendly strategies. She outlines a [Page xviii]mandated universal content-rating system for all media as a helpful strategy, as well as regulation of children's access to adult-rated video games. She also advocates the inclusion in custody decisions of consideration of a parent's media access practices. Her goal is at a minimum to better inform parents so that they can provide basic media education for their children.
Just as controversial as some television programming, and sometimes included on television in the form of music videos, are some forms of music and the lyrics of certain songs. Barbara Wilson and Nicole Martins examine the violence in popular music, especially rap and hip-hop, genres that have broad appeal among youth. They detail the listening habits of youth as well as the content of what they listen to. Music is a pervasive part of children's lives, both as a primary and a background activity. Indeed, for adolescents it may be the most important form of media. Wilson and Martins explore the differences by gender that emerge by the end of elementary school in the content of what children listen to, but they also point out that a far stronger basis of differentiation in content is race and ethnicity. Black youth listen primarily to “Black” music, White youth listen to “White” and “Black” music, and Latino youth listen to “Black,” “White,” and “Latin” music. Rap/hip-hop, however, is a genre popular across racial lines. Wilson and Martins examine the reasons why children listen to music and the messages within music and music videos. Content analysis is less developed with music than with music videos. Wilson and Martins also point out, however, that content analysis alone does not tell us how children process music lyrics. In some sense, younger children may be somewhat “protected” because they do not understand the lyrics. As the authors point out, the symbolism and use of metaphor in music makes it more difficult to comprehend, and therefore many preteen children literally will not understand lyrics. In addition, no single meaning may emerge because of the nature of the language and the music. On the other hand, devoted fans of particular music are more likely to know and understand the lyrics. Although there is far less research on the effects of violent music or music videos, Wilson and Martins conclude that the available research plus learning theory suggest that the same connection exists between violent music and greater aggressiveness as has been established between television violence and aggression. Wilson and Martins conclude that further research is needed to explore effects, including the impact of music on younger children, particularly as they are developing their social and dating roles in preadolescence and adolescence.
Dale Kunkel and Lara Zwarun present a comprehensive look at research on violence in television. Kunkel and Zwarun point out that violence contributes to three main negative psychological effects for children: learning and encouraging aggressiveness; desensitization to real violence; and an exaggerated fear of being attacked. They caution that not all violence in media has the same effect in terms of fostering these psychological effects. Context and consequences have a significant impact in terms of how children understand and are affected by violence in media. Nevertheless, the violence present in television is widespread, with much of it in a form that is most harmful to children. Kunkel and Zwarun's work suggests a more nuanced approach to regulation, whether by law, parents, or voluntary media self-regulation. At the same time, their research suggests several cautions. Of the regulations that have been attempted, few have been successful due to First Amendment issues. One notable exception is the V-chip, but they find parents use it far less than what might be expected. A second caution that emerges from prior attempts at regulation is its limitation to broadcast channels, leaving unregulated [Page xix]cable channels, which now dominate television programming.
Craig Anderson and Doug Gentile shift the focus to video games. Video games are among the more recent additions to children's culture, but are powerfully attractive to children. Anderson and Gentile review the empirical research on the effects of exposure to violent video games on children, as well as relating it to the research literature on television and film violence. While there is far less research on games than on television, the available research suggests that the effects of violence in games is just as negative for children as the research on television violence concludes. Anderson and Gentile document the evolution of violent games, the emergence of a voluntary rating system, and the development of ever more violent games with more sophisticated graphics. They outline the different types of studies needed on this type of media, and the results from available studies. While some studies demonstrate the positive effects of video games, the studies that focus on the effect of violence in games demonstrate negative outcomes: increased aggressiveness, although this outcome depends on both frequency of play and content of the games. While there are other risk factors for aggressiveness, they point out that playing video games can be controlled, while other risk factors (for instance poverty, drug use, psychological disorders) are far more challenging to deal with. They suggest three responsibilities of the game industry: to clearly label what is in the games; to market appropriately and not lure children into games that pose significant risks for them; and to educate and encourage parents to use a meaningful ratings system. Parents have equivalent responsibilities to be informed and to limit both the amount and content of games. Retailers and rental companies can support parents by making it more difficult for children to get access to adult games. Gentile and Anderson consider an array of possible public policy options. Like Cantor, they support a universal, and improved, ratings system for all media to assist parents.
While the negative effects of violent video games appear to be documented in the available research, Laurie Taylor encourages consideration of the positive effects of video games, even violent games. She cautions us to evaluate the positive effects, especially for particular children, when considering regulation. How children play games, including video games, is the basis for her evaluation of positive effects. Taylor emphasizes that the reason the games are played is not solely because of their violent content, but because they are enjoyable and rewarding. Creativity (such as changing the rules) and cooperation (playing with one or more other children, with defined expectations of sharing and fairness) are part of gaming. In addition, she points out that video games also provide the benefit of safe play in a social context where some children lack a safe environment for other kinds of play. Children in single-family or latchkey homes, or in dangerous neighborhoods, may use video games to enjoy and learn social rules without risk. Taylor suggests video games can provide other benefits including learning cultural and community rules, problem and puzzle solving, strategic and critical thinking skills, spatial exploration, stories, and more. Video games can provide positives as well as negatives, and Taylor suggests how to balance these effects to insure children in need of the positives are not disproportionately hurt by policies that seek to eliminate or dissipate the negatives in a simplistic way.
Brendesha Tynes examines similar issues of violence on the Internet, particularly the presence of racism and other stereotypical attitudes in chat rooms on the Internet. Tynes explores the use of the Internet by hate groups to spread their views about race, and the impact of these sites for children. Although much of the research on Internet [Page xx]hate groups has focused on adults, Tynes's research monitored Web sites, chat rooms, and discussion boards specifically geared to youth, that engage in racist or anti-Semitic hate speech. Tynes reminds us that nearly all children have Internet access. The nature of the Internet permits the availability of information that would be less accessible, if not totally absent, from other forms of media, with far fewer controls. Tynes details how hate groups use persuasive rhetoric to attract children to their message. At the same time, Tynes points out that children also are active perpetrators of hate messages on the Internet. Children as young as 11, alone or with the help of others, use the anonymity of cyberspace to engage in hate speech. As Tynes points out, these developments pose several harms for children. First, hate speech has direct harmful effects on its victims. Second, this fosters racism in our culture in a new, disturbing, and more virulent form. Third, hate speech has the potential to inspire other kinds of violence, including harms to both property and persons. She suggests a number of policy implications from this data. First, regulation of hate speech runs into difficult First Amendment problems, which make it virtually impossible to regulate the speech itself. Filters to deal with content are both inadequate and overly broad. Tynes advocates a far-reaching, community-based response to Internet hate speech. She recommends monitoring the problem online similar to the way hate speech is monitored offline. Second, she contends that online hate crimes should be vigorously prosecuted. Third, and most significant, she advocates a counterdiscourse of tolerance, broadly supported by the community. Legal and regulatory approaches, she contends, ultimately are not a solution; rather, the solution lies in the values we embrace as our social norms.
This section closes by examining the core legal issues under the First Amendment that arise when these various forms of media are challenged as harmful to children because of their violent content. Catherine Ross cautions that a simplistic call to regulate is likely to trigger serious First Amendment concerns. Her chapter considers the quintessential First Amendment issues that arise when trying to regulate violence because of its harms to children. She examines whether the state has a more compelling interest, sufficient to withstand constitutional scrutiny, in regulating violent speech than in regulating sexually oriented (though not obscene) speech. One of the most challenging difficulties is defining how “violence” would be defined for purposes of regulation. In addition, it is difficult to regulate for the benefit of children without restricting the speech available to adults. Ross also concludes that despite the significant social science data on violence in the culture and its harms, the evidence is still insufficient to meet the demanding standard that must be satisfied for regulation to pass constitutional scrutiny. She ultimately determines that regulation is not the answer and that parents, supported by the media, are best suited to regulate children's exposure to inappropriate or harmful materials. She concludes that it is difficult to imagine effective regulation that would pass constitutional muster. Ross's chapter suggests the challenges that must be confronted in effectively dealing with children's exposure to violence in our culture.
The necessity for broad-based, multidisciplinary approaches that link parents, communities, and policy makers to issues of children and violence in our culture, to construct effective solutions rather than to blame, is also essential in dealing with children when they are the perpetrators of violence. Children as the victimizers are the focus of Part III, Children as Perpetrators of Violence.
While only a small portion of children may engage in hate speech on the Internet, many children engage in bullying and teasing at school. Susan Limber and Ellen deLara [Page xxi]offer two valuable chapters that present concrete policy recommendations for confronting this commonplace form of violence committed by children.
Susan Limber's overview of current research reminds us that it has only been since the high-profile Columbine incident in 1999 that research and prevention have become a priority. The prevalence of bullying is widespread and disturbing. Limber summarizes the intersections with age, developmental stage, gender, and race, and also emphasizes that this is just as common in suburban as urban settings. The highest prevalence of bullying is among elementary-aged children. Victims may either be passive victims or bully-victims—children who are both bullies and victims of bullies. Certain children, such as disabled children and obese children, are particularly likely to be bullied. Those who bully frequently are not loners or social misfits, but rather are popular and social leaders. Limber also outlines family characteristics of bullies, which links family abuse to bullying behavior. The author emphasizes that bullying is rarely an act done in isolation, but rather commonly involves an audience of other students. It is action taken in a context and culture that either supports or accepts bullying. Limber explores the social ecology of bullying, including school characteristics and community or social influences. She suggests taking a social-ecological approach to devising programs to prevent bullying, utilizing known risk and protective factors to devise strategies for prevention that link families to schools and take a comprehensive, schoolwide approach.
Ellen deLara is critical of adult approaches to bullying that either minimize or misunderstand the problem. She points out that our very naming of these acts of violence tends to diminish its seriousness, treating them as a rite of passage of childhood. By accepting the behaviors as normal, adults condone them and to a great extent, she argues, leave children to their own devices to deal with peer violence. Particularly chilling is her description of the ways in which children cope with bullying because of their perception that adults will do nothing about this violence. Indeed, frequently adults even blame the victims for being bullied. The harm of bullying, which includes both in-school conduct and the newer cyber-bullying, is both its direct effects on victims and its link to retaliatory violence. As deLara points out, many children fear a “Columbine” could happen at their schools because of the pervasiveness of bullying and the targeting of unpopular youth. DeLara characterizes school as our children's workplace, and argues that behavior that would be intolerable in the adult workplace under a range of laws and employer policies is nevertheless tolerated in schools. The victims of that toleration, moreover, have little or no power to confront this violence, in comparison to adults in the workplace. DeLara argues that the responsibility for ending these violent behaviors rests with adults and their control of the school environment. Family and community beliefs and behavior support and enable bullying; it is adults, then, who must act to prevent it. DeLara points out convincingly, however, that the ways in which this can be accomplished must come from the children who experience this violence. She focuses on adolescents' perception of the problem and solutions, which reflects much greater sophistication and pragmatic problem solving than the dismissive or paternalistic approaches of adults or school administrators. Rather than placing the responsibility on children to intervene on their own behalf, her recommendations place the onus on adults to address the underlying issues, by engaging in communication and partnership with children. She outlines the characteristics of successful interventions to deal with bullying that requires a community-based model of involvement by adults, [Page xxii]mirroring the policy recommendations of Tynes with respect to Internet hate speech.
Bullying is not the only form of violence committed by children. Children commit criminal acts outside of school against persons and property that may bring them within the criminal justice system or family courts. A separate juvenile justice system, together with family courts, is justified based on children's developmental differences that distinguish their culpability and consequences from that of adults. Most significantly, the justice system ideally aims to rehabilitate children so that they may still become productive adults. In the process, the system should also treat juveniles fairly and insure that racial, ethnic, or gender bias does not taint the system.
Structuring the juvenile justice system based on sound behavioral science research is the focus of Mark Fondacaro and Lauren Fasig's chapter. Ecological jurisprudence brings legal assumptions into line with modern behavioral science research. Fondacaro and Fasig argue that the system has been narrowly premised on issues of development and psychological culpability, when broader contextual factors are essential to understanding juvenile behavior. These include family, school, peer, neighborhood, and media influences. The authors discuss empirical data that demonstrate the importance of situational influences, in sharp contrast to the assumption of autonomous individualism that underlies imposition of criminal responsibility for juveniles and adults. The social ecological approach sees no decision as made in a vacuum; rather, psychological ability interacts with context. The most critical contextual factor for children is their family. Peers, in addition, have a strong impact on children's behavior, and Fondacaro and Fasig note that criminal conduct more often happens when a child is in a group rather than when a child acts alone. Low socioeconomic status, poverty, and poor schools as well as poor academic achievement are also strongly linked to juvenile crime, as are social norms and situational factors. Fondacaro and Fasig propose a risk-management model designed not to allocate blame but to prevent recidivism. In addition, they argue against the movement toward harsher punishment and treating children more the way adults are treated in the adult criminal justice system.
Richard Redding also critiques the movement toward a more punitive approach to juvenile crime, particularly the movement to transfer juveniles to the adult criminal justice system. In his chapter, he focuses on the fundamental question of whether trying and punishing children as adults prevents crime. Redding documents the movement toward adjudicating serious and chronic juvenile offenders as adults, either by giving them adult-like sentences in juvenile court, or transferring juveniles for trial and incarceration in adult facilities. This movement has been based on the assumption that harsher treatment will act as a deterrent to serious juvenile crime. Redding argues that there is little empirical data to support this assumption, and therefore concludes that adult punishment does not reduce juvenile crime. His analysis yields two interlocking conclusions that suggest a rethinking of the approach to juvenile crime that complements the analysis of Fondacaro and Fasig. First, he finds the rehabilitative goal of the juvenile justice system to be fundamentally sound, as a goal that is most successful in helping children and preventing further crime. Redding also finds, however, that earlier, stronger consequences within the system may be more effective for offenders. In other words, the necessity that a “message” be sent to juvenile offenders, in the form of meaningful sanctions instead of a slap on the wrist, has validity, but needs to be accomplished earlier in their interface with the courts and within the rehabilitative model of the juvenile justice system. Second, Redding points out that the available evidence suggests transfer to the [Page xxiii]adult system is counterproductive. Rather than reducing crime, it increases recidivism as compared to trying and sentencing juveniles in the juvenile system. The reasons for this outcome are tied to juveniles being labeled as convicted felons, a sense of abandonment and resentment toward the system and society, and the lack of emphasis on rehabilitation and family support. Because the adult system is focused on punishment, children get the message that there is no hope for them. In addition, in the adult system they enter a culture that teaches them to be criminals. Redding documents public support for a system that works, rather than a system that punishes. He recommends well-calibrated consequences for first-time serious offenders. He also suggests that a very small number of adolescents commit a disproportionate amount of juvenile crime, and the risk factors for these chronic offenders is well-known: early and serious offending, trouble in school, drug problems, family problems, and gang involvement or running away from home. Policy makers must be attentive to the data on the lack of effectiveness of punitive models for most juveniles, and should also be made aware that the public supports an effective rehabilitative approach. All participants in the system, moreover, must be cognizant of the data in order to craft a response that is most effective to rehabilitate those who commit serious crimes.
The distinctive problems of the chronic offenders that Redding discusses are the focus of Matthew Howard and his coauthors, Michael Dayton, Kirk Foster, Michael Vaughn, and John Zelner. Because the chronic offenders present such distinctive issues, Howard et al. argue it is essential to include psychopathy within the mental health evaluation of juvenile offenders. Although psychopathy is a long-recognized serious psychiatric disorder, it has been included only recently in juvenile evaluations. This chapter reviews contemporary approaches to assessment and theories of psychopathy, empirical findings of the disorder, and effects of the diagnoses on criminal proceedings. The challenge they articulate for including psychopathy is how to do so without stigmatizing and marginalizing offenders, and insure that they will receive appropriate treatment and rehabilitation. Howard et al. detail the taxonomies for evaluating psychopathy, developed with adults. They also summarize the research concerning the characteristics of psychopathic youth, finding little research to support simplistic presumed correlations other than between psychopathy and violent offending. They advocate a detailed research agenda as essential to dealing with this group of children who commit serious crimes. Just as important, they argue, is insuring that further information is used to help, rather than “write off,” these children.
In the final chapter of the handbook, we come full circle, from the developmental context with which we began to a comprehensive reorientation of how we should construct public policy responses, and especially legal responses, to the issues of children, culture, and violence. Barbara Bennett Woodhouse argues for an EcoGenerist paradigm, based on ecological principles developed in the environmental arena, informed by the principle of generism, or the primacy of supporting and nurturing the next generation. She analogizes the violence in culture, with its known negative effects on children, to a toxic substance in children's environment, and calls upon us to learn from environmentalists how to think about and address the toxic qualities of children's cultural and social environment. Traditional legal approaches, she maintains, tend to classify and categorize in a way that ignores the broader context as well as the interconnections that foster violence, and serve only to harm children rather than to help them. She argues for the benefits of a multidisciplinary approach that would identify the threats posed by toxic [Page xxiv]exposure of violence, and develop appropriate regulatory responses. Woodhouse shows how a variety of ecological concepts, including deep ecology, sustainable development, ecofeminism, and bioregionalism, are tools that can be used to address the intersections of complex factors in producing and reproducing violence to the detriment of children. Applying an ecogenerist paradigm would permit a range of responses that would be measured by their effectiveness in reducing the violence toxins and outcomes in children's environment. Woodhouse provides two examples of how this might work, applying the ecogenerist paradigm to violence on the Internet and to juveniles who commit acts of violence. Her challenge to accepted legal analysis incorporates the complexity and necessary multidiciplinarity to address this issue, as well as the need for provisional responses in order to respond to new challenges. By placing children's welfare at the center of analysis, broad change in children's environment, reducing the presence of violence in their world and ours, would become the goal of policy and the measure of its success.ReferencesAmerican Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. (1999). Children and TV violence. Retrieved October 21, 2004, from http://www.aacap.org/publications/factsfam/violence.htmAmerican Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. (2001). Children and watching TV. Retrieved February 28, 2005, from http://www.aacap.org/publications/factsfamAmerican Association of University Women (AAUW). (2001). Hostile hallways: Bullying, teasing, and sexual harassment in schools. Retrieved Octoberl3, 2004, from http://www.aauw.org/member_center/HostileHallways/hostilehallways.pdfAmerican Psychiatric Association, (n.d.). Psychiatric effects of media violence. Retrieved February 28, 2005, from http://www.psych.org/public_info/media_violence.cfmAmerican Psychological Association, (n.d.). Violence on television: What do children learn? What can parents do?Retrieved October 21, 2004, from http://www.apa.org/pubinfo/violence.htmlAmerica's Children. (2001). Key indicators of well-being. Bethesda, MD: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: A meta-analytic review of the scientific literature [Electronic version]. Psychological Science12(5)(2001). 353–358.Anderson, S. L., Attwood, P. F., & Howard, L. C. (Eds.). (2004). Facing racism in education (3rd ed.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Publishing Group.Araji, S. K. (Ed). (1997). Sexually aggressive children: Coming to understand them. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Violence in the lives of children. CrossCurrents1(2003, August). 1–13.Retrieved October 12, 2004, from http://databank.org/PDF/Violence.pdf(1984). Children's observations of interparental violence. In A. R.Roberts (Ed.), Battered women and their families (pp. 147–167). New York: Springer.Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, (n.d.). Youth and firearms. Retrieved October 12, 2004, from http://http://www.preventionpathways.samhsa.gov/res/_fact_yfirearms.htm[Page xxv](1994). Video Games and children. Urbana, IL: ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED365477). Retrieved October 21, 2004, from http://ericdigests.org/1994/video.htmChild Welfare League of America, National Data Analysis System. (2001). Number of child abuse and neglect fatalities, by history with the child welfare system (CWLA survey). Accessed July 15, 2005, from http://http://ndas.cwla.org/data_stats/access/predefined/home.asp?MainTopicID=2&SubTopicID=25Children Now. (2000). Girls and gaming: Gender and race in video games. Los Angeles: Author.Children Now. (2001). Fair Flay? Violence, gender, and race in video games. Los Angeles: Author.Children's Defense Fund. (2004). Each day in America. Retrieved October 12, 2004, from http://http://www.childrensdefense.org/data/eachday.aspUnderstanding préadolescent sexual offenders. Florida Bar Journal78(2004). 30–37.(1997). Illegal firearms: Access and use by arrestees. Retrieved October 19, 2004, from http://http://www.ncjrs.org/pdffiles/163496.pdf, , &Bringing the margin to the center: Comprehensive strategies for work/family policies. University of Cincinnati Law Review73(2005). 433–455.(1997). Problems associated with children's witnessing of domestic violence. Retrieved October 13, 2004, from http://http://www.vaw.umn.edu/documents/vawnet/witness/witness.htmlChildren's witnessing of adult domestic violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence14(8)(1999). 839–870.The Many Costs of discrimination: The Case of middle class African Americans. Indiana Law Review34(2001). 1313–1360.Federal Bureau of Investigation. United States Department of Justice. (1995). Uniform crime reports for the United States. Washington, DC, U.S. Government Printing Office.(2001). Juvenile crime victims in the justice system. In S. O.White (Ed.), Law and social science perspectives on youth and justice. New York: Plenum., , &Violence and children: A public health issue [Electronic version]. Psychiatric Times13(3). (1996).Retrieved November 30, 2004, from http://http://www.pyschiatrictimes.com/p960345.htmlThe impact of substance use disorders on women involved in dependency court [Electronic version]. Washington University Journal of Law and Policy14(2004). 359–384.(1999). Preventing street gang violence. American Family Physician. Retrieved November 30, 2004, from http://http://www.aafp.org/afp/990415ap/medicine.htmlHuman Rights Watch. (2001). Hatred in the hallways: Violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, and transgender students in U.S. schools. Retrieved October 13, 2004, from http://http://www.hrw.org/reports/2001/uslgbtPiercing the prison uniform of invisibility for black female inmates. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology94(3)(2004). 795–818.Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States, 1999. Morbidity and Morality Report49(SS05)(2000). 1–96.[Page xxvi]Kaiser Foundation. (1999). Kids and the media at the new millennium. Retrieved February 28, 2005, from http://http://kff.org.entmediaKaiser Foundation. (2005). The effects of electronic media on children ages zero to six: History of research—issue brief. Retrieved February 28, 2005, from http://http://www.kff.org/entmediaChild indicators: Children as victims of domestic violence [Electronic version]. The Future of the Children, The Juvenile Court6(3)(1996). 147–156.Retrieved October 16, 2004, from http://htpp://www.futureofchildren.org/usr_doc/vol6no3ART13.pdfNational Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse Prevention at Columbia University. (1999). No safe haven: Children of substance abusing parents. New York: Author.(n.d.). If these were racial slurs, teachers would be stopping them: Three activists object. Retrieved February 10, 2005, from http://resource.com, , &(2001). Criminal victimization 2000: Changes 1999–2000 with trends 1993–2000. Publication No. NCJ 187007. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics.Experiences of discrimination among African American, Asian American, and Latino Adolescents in an urban high school. Youth & Society35(A)(2004). 420–451.A Safe Place, Lake County (IL) Crisis Center, (n.d.). Effects of domestic violence on children: Fart 1. Retrieved November 30, 2004, from http://http://www.asafeplaceforhelp.org/childrendomesticviolence.htmlPractice parameters for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents who are sexually abusive of others. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry38(1999). 555–765.Singer, D. G., & Singer, J. L. (Eds.). (2001). Handbook of children and the media. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.(2003). Juvenile arrests 2001. Retrieved October 19, 2004, from http://htttp://www.ncjrs.org/html/ojjdp/201370/pagel.html(1999). Juvenile offenders and victims: 1999 National Report. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention., &Stop the Violence, Face the Music, (n.d.). Teens and the streets. Retrieved October 13, 2004, from http://http://www.stv.net/teens_streets.htmUnited States Department of Health and Human Services. (2002). The 2002 HHS poverty guidelines. Retrieved November 30, 2004, from http://http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/02poverty.htmUnited States Department of Health and Human Services. Administration on Children, Youth and Families. (2004). Child maltreatment: 2002 reports from the states to the national child abuse and neglect data system. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.(1998). Bullying and sexual harassment in schools. Retrieved October 13, 2004, from http://http://www.cfchildren.org/articlef/wallslf/wallsl_print(2000). Media in the home 2000: The fifth annual survey of parents and children. The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. Survey Series No. 7. Accessed on the Web at: http://www.appcpenn.org/mediainhome/survey/survey7.pdf, &Youth victims and perpetrators of serious violent crime, (n.d.). Retrieved October 19, 2004, from http://http://www.childstats.gov/ac2003/indicators.asp?IID=136&id=5Youth violence: A report of the Surgeon General. (2001). Retrieved October 13, 2004, from http://http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/youthviolence/chapter2/secl2.html
Prologue: Developmental Variations Among Children and Adolescents—An Overview of the Research and Policy Implications[Page xxvii]
Development is not simply the acquisition of information about a given world. Rather, it involves becoming grounded in an uncertain world that is beyond understanding. This is achieved thorough enculturation into the myths, rituals, social practices, and assumptions that order, orient, and organize individuals in common ways and provide a sense of reality that allows for confident action in the world.—(Vandenberg, 2004, p. 52)
A “sense of reality” and “confident action in the world” is achieved when parents or other caregivers offer their children, from birth on, what the psychoanalyst Erik Erikson (1968) called basic trust—“an essential trustfulness of others as well as a fundamental sense of one's own trustworthiness” (p. 96). Trust implies expectations about the response of others to one's actions, and about opportunities for affection as well as for experiences of certainty and security. Unfortunately, as many court cases indicate, trust and confidence in children's caregivers are often violated through physical or sexual abuse, neglect, abandonment, or through the verbal and behavioral concomitants of a contentious divorce.
To better understand how children process information related to legal issues, it is useful to review the various stages of child development, and how children change physically, cognitively, socially, emotionally, and morally from birth to adolescence. Child-rearing practices do not happen in a vacuum. Parental influences on development may be limited to some degree if the customs, beliefs, and mores are significantly different from a broader surrounding culture, or from the information available through education and the media.
The first part of this book touches on issues of domestic violence and particularly the effects of physical and sexual violence directed toward children. How does a child [Page xxviii]comprehend this betrayal of parental behavior? How can a child deal with this abhorrent behavior while it is going on, and what are the long-term effects on a child's self-concept and self-esteem? It is helpful for members of the legal profession to be aware of how differently the child or adolescent victim processes the information related to such acts as they occur, and later, during an investigation, or in a courtroom during testimony.
The young child may comply with the parent's sexual advances because he or she needs the love of the parent and may think this is a way a parent is demonstrating this love. The older child continues to comply, thinking she or he is protecting the other parent from learning about the spouse's behavior, or because the adolescent may even fear the abusive parent. Facing an abusive parent or an abusive stranger in court is terrifying for the young child, and in some cases, a child may even lie out of fear of the parent or stranger, or may lie in order to protect the parent. A child who has witnessed abusive behavior toward another person, in the form of either physical violence or sexual attacks, may also be traumatized by such acts, and as a consequence, may disassociate himself or herself by complete denial or repression.
The second part of the book addresses the impact of media on children. Television, of all electronic media including video games and computers, is still the most favored among young children (Rideout, Vandewater, & Wartella, 2003). Children interpret information gleaned from films, television, video games, computers, and even from books in ways commensurate with their cognitive level. A very young child may be frightened by a violent or sexually provocative scene on television that does not affect an adolescent in the same way. Adolescents are able to distinguish the difference between reality and fantasy more clearly than younger children.
While most Western countries have boards of overseers who control television input for children, the United States has no such group of individuals who rule on what a children's program may show. The Children's Television Act (1990) required television broadcasters to address the needs of children through educational and informational programming. In 1996 the law adopted more stringent rules and mandated a minimum of 3 hours per week of educational programs for children up to age 16 that were to be aired on network channels (Federal Communications Commission [FCC], 1996). The FCC is the closest we have to a ruling body concerning the media, but it offers no guidance on when children's programs must be aired, nor does it specify how much educational content each station is expected to provide. It is important that legislators and policy makers understand how children's thinking processes are affected by the media depending on their age, and how the media influences their emotions and social mores. There have been a number of court cases where defense attorneys have attempted to blame television for a crime committed by a young person, but the First Amendment has been used to protect the rights of the broadcasters to air programs that they deem inoffensive (Liebert & Sprafkin, 1988). The introduction of legislation to require a V-chip, the electronic filtering device that parents can use to block out potentially harmful or sensitive material, was endorsed by President Clinton in 1996 and became part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (FCC, 1996).
The last part of the book discusses children as perpetrators of violence and touches on fundamental issues of children's social conduct. Why does a child bully another child? Why does a child commit a violent crime? Are there genetic or environmental factors, or a combination of biological, cultural, and social influences that cause some children to become deviant? Understanding the normal stages of development hopefully sheds some light on why a child relinquishes values and [Page xxix]moral precepts and becomes aggressive, and in some cases violent or even psychopathic. Should children be treated as adults in the courts? It is clear that legislators in many states should consider the age and the cognitive capabilities of a minor when meting out verdicts and in sentencing.
Wherever possible, in the following discussion of children's development, examples are drawn from research and actual court cases to demonstrate how important it is for the legal sector of society to understand how these differences in children may impact evidence and court decisions, and how these decisions in turn affect the child depending on age and cognitive level. Later chapters in this book concerning particular legal issues involving children go into greater detail than presented here.The Braing
It seems logical to begin with a brief review of the brain since the way in which children and adolescents process material depends on how advanced they are in their ability to attend, perceive, think, remember, problem solve, and use language to communicate. In any situation where testimony is needed, or where a person stands trial, aspects of competence are usually considered. In some cases, the possibility of neurological damage may also be a factor.
Brain development begins after the first month of conception. Nearly all of the brain's billions of nerve cells have been created by the sixth month of prenatal development with new neurons being generated at an average rate of 250,000 per minute (Thompson, 2004). At birth, most researchers believe that the brain has all the neurons or nerve cells it will have for life. Eighty billion serve as hard wiring and handle information. The first area of the brain to evolve is called the reptilian brain, which is responsible for breathing, digestion, and regulation of metabolism, consciousness, and alertness. The second area of the brain is the paleomammalian, which is concerned with emotions, scent, taste, sexual behavior, and memory. One part of this area of the brain important to memory functions is the hippocampus, which usually matures by age 5. A third area of the brain is the cortex, divided into the left and right hemispheres and connected by the corpus callosum, a band of fibers. The left hemisphere in humans is concerned with language, attention, working memory, speech, and mathematics, while the right hemisphere is concerned with music, rhythm and other non-speech sounds, negative emotions, and spatial understanding. To be more specific about brain functioning, the frontal lobe of the cortex is involved in involuntary movements and thinking, the occipital lobe controls vision, the temporal lobe is involved in hearing, and finally, the parietal lobe processes information about the body and sensations such as touch.
Neurons are serviced by 100 billion glial cells that nourish and activate them; glial cells are necessary for the development of a fatty substance called myelin that coats and protects the neural fibers. Most of the myelination is completed by the first 2 years of an infant's life, but some myelination occurs even up to early adolescence. A neuron consists of the cell body, the nucleus, the axon (encased by the myelin sheath), and dendrites. The dendrites receive incoming information. At the end of the dendrites is a gap called the synapse, which receives information from the neurotransmitters. Neurons come to assume specialized roles; they form connections or synapses with other neurons to enable them to communicate and to store information.
Plasticity refers to the fact that the brain has the capacity to “bloom,” or to produce new synapses. In addition to blooming, there [Page xxx]is a process called “pruning.” The infant by the age of 3 has so many synapses competing in the brain for space, that the brain sheds some of these in order to function more efficiently. About 40% of the cortical synapses present in infancy are eliminated by childhood. Those that are used are strengthened and survive. Synapses may grow in parts of the brain even without the trigger of stimulation and according to different timetables. Brain development also varies by region. Thus, the sensory regions that govern sight, touch and hearing, and other sensations undergo their most rapid development early in life, while higher forms of thinking and reasoning continue to bloom and prune well into early adolescence. Although one might expect the adolescent to process material more accurately than a young child because of blooming, the experiences of adolescents may actually interfere with their ability to separate their thoughts about “what they perceived from the perceptions themselves” as found in some testimonies of children in this adolescent period (Perry & Wrightsman, 1991, p. 61). Data indicate that the mature adult brain can generate new neurons (Thompson, 2004). This controversial information contradicts the earlier assumption that all nerve cells are present at birth and that the brain cannot generate new ones if neurons die.
There are two forms of brain development that occur. Experience-expectant involves the common experiences of an infant and child that provide the essential stimulation for normal brain development such as early visual stimulation, exposure to hearing, language, coordinating vision, and movement. The brain expects and requires these human experiences for growth. Experience-dependent refers to the individual experiences that continue throughout our lives and that refine our existing brain structures. These are not typical experiences of all persons, but rather are individualized. A musician who plays an instrument early in life, an artist who paints early in life, or a poet who uses many words early in life will all have had experiences that account for new learning and the development of particular skills (Greenough & Black, 1992; Thompson, 2004).
In addition to the genetic makeup of the individual, it is important to acknowledge the role of the environment in the development of the healthy child. For example, some of the issues include (1) physical opportunities for the child to explore, learn, and play in a safe area; (2) biological inputs such as early good nutrition, good health care, immunizations, sensory screening, and protection from dangerous drugs, viruses, and environmental toxins; (3) social interactions with adults, using verbal and nonverbal communication with the infant including play, and later peer play, affording practice in social skills—sharing, taking turns, cooperating, and exposure to music and the arts; (4) emotional support and sensitivity to a child's needs, comforting, stability, disciplining as appropriate, handling of aggression and negative moods; and (5) cognitive opportunities for learning, language development, imagination and creativity, and later, opportunities for emergent literacy, reading, and telling stories to a child from infancy on.
In the discussion that follows, Table P.l is useful in tracking the developmental expectations and the personality implications at each stage, from infancy to late adolescence. Some researchers have suggested that at particular ages the very nature of physical and mental development, as well as society, demands of us the performance of certain tasks (Havighurst, 1953; Tryon & Lillienthal, 1950). The table presents a lifespan model incorporating Erikson's psychosocial theory of development, and a restructuring of Erikson's model along with the listing of the developmental tasks (Erikson, 1962; Franz & White, 1985).[Page xxxi]
Table P.l Developmental Tasks and Their Personality Implications Approximate age when task or social expectation first appears or is critical Developmental task life-crisis or social expectation Personality Implication Individuation pathway Attachment pathway Infancy (to 18 mos.) Achieving secure attachment; giving and receiving affection; learning to walk and beginning to talk Trust vs. mistrust Trust vs. mistrust Early childhood Developing self-control; beginnings of sense of right and wrong; communication skills Autonomy vs. shame Object and self-constancy vs. loneliness and helplessness Developing capacity for play and imagination Developing private personality; initiative vs. guilt Beginning to play with others and to ‘show off— vs. passivity or aggression Middle childhood (7–12) Relating to social peers, school groups, forming close friendships, learning new motor skills; developing cognitive skills, accepting or adjusting to one's changing body Industry vs. inferiority Empathy and collaboration vs. excessive power or caution Puberty and early adolescence (12–15) Learning psychobiological and social sex roles; developing specific sexual “appetites (hetero- or homosexual attractions); confronting issues of group membership, “popularity”; specific athletic, artistic, or academic skill development Identity vs. identity diffusion Mutuality interdependence vs. alienation Late adolescence (16–19) Learning to understand and control the physical world and the broader social milieu; developing an appropriate symbol system and conceputal abilities; learning creative expression Identity vs. identity diffusion Mutuality interdependence vs. alienation Source: Adapted and reprinted with permission of the publishers from The House of Make-Believe: Children's Play and the Developing Imagination by Dorothy G. Singer and Jerome L. Singer, pp. 35–36, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, copyright © 1990 by Dorothy G. Singer and Jerome L. Singer.Birth to Two YearsPhysical Development
Newborns sleep about 70% of the time. Sleep may occur in seven or eight segments in the course of a day. The healthy baby is born with a number of reflexes including sucking, rooting for the nipple, the Babinski reflex (flexing the big toe dorsally and fanning out the other toes), grasping an object with fingers, the Moro reflex (extending arms and legs and then bringing them toward each other as a response to a loud noise), a swimming reflex, a knee jerk reflex, and blinking. When you observe infants, their movements are global and undifferentiated as if they are using their legs and arms at the same time. Gradually, fine motor movements occur, with the hands learning to separate the thumb from the rest of the fingers, and by the end of 1 year, most babies are able to grasp an object quite firmly much as an adult will. Babies are generally able to sit up alone by 6 months, crawl at about 9 months, and from about 12 months to 18 months begin to walk.
From the time they are born, babies can perceive the difference between dark and light, but discriminating among colors usually takes place at around 3 months. Babies are able to track an object. If you hold a bright rattle over their face, they will follow the path with their eyes as you move it from side to side. In terms of their attention to the human face, eyes and mouth are gazed at first, and then gradually babies focus on the nose and the rest of the face. They tend to focus on parts of objects that are moving, objects that are the largest, or objects that have the greatest contrast. Babies can hear at birth and by about 1 to 2 weeks, can discriminate between loud and soft and high and low sounds, and are able to detect differences among musical notes on a scale. By 2 weeks, babies can detect the difference between a human voice and other sounds. Babies are great explorers, trying to make sense of their environment through tasting, touching, hearing, seeing, and smelling. They like to grasp objects, put them into their mouths, feel and stroke things, focus on colorful toys or pictures, push and pull, and later as they walk and enter the toddler stage, they become more mobile, climb, and try to jump and hop.Intellectual Development
Perhaps the most systematic study of the development of intelligence stems from the work of the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget (1952), who kept detailed diaries about the day-to-day experiences of his three young children. Intellectually, a baby, by the end of year 1, is performing many cause-and-effect experiments (Gopnik, Meltzoff, & Kuhl, 1999). Dropping clothespins in a box and turning it over to empty it, stacking rings on a pole, building a nest of blocks, hitting a xylophone to hear the different sounds, are all experiments by the baby to make sense of the world. As the baby matures, she depends less on trial and error and more on intent. By the end of 1 year, the baby uses what Piaget (1968) called “invention of new means to produce a result. At times, babies' actions may appear funny to us, as when a baby uses a pail as a hat instead of as a container for sand.Social/Emotional Development
Socially, the baby evidences a true smile at approximately 6 weeks, although a parent may detect a slightly crooked smile earlier than that—the neonatal smile that is present shortly after birth. The reaction of a parent to the true smile is one of joy and it is the impetus for the “love dance” or bonding between the two. As mother smiles and talks, baby responds with a smile and a gurgle. Actually, in terms of adoption issues, as well [Page xxxiii]as what has relevance for the legal profession, it is best to adopt a baby as early as possible, before the bonding takes place between birth mother and child. If loving parents adopt babies, there is usually no difficulty for the baby to make a new adjustment and a new bond. However, the baby who is put into an institution after it has bonded with a caregiver experiences what is called anaclitic depression, or the listlessness that we see in overcrowded settings where there is not enough staff to hold a baby and offer the baby the sense of trust described above. These babies may engage in head banging, rocking motions, and autoerotic activity in order to self-stimulate. Witness the actions of babies who were tragically left during the war in the Bosnian orphan asylums. It takes many years of patience, affection, and skill on the part of the adoptive parents to overcome the trauma of early deprivation.
As the baby approaches the last part of year 1, he has more awareness that objects exist apart from the self. For example, if the rattle falls on the floor, baby will now look for it, whereas before, anything out of sight was out of mind. This important concept, object permanency, suggests that two separate ideas become joined or coordinated. The baby can retain images of people and objects in its head even when they are not present. Hearing the mother's voice outside the room signifies to the baby that mother is there, even though baby cannot see her. This is the beginning of representational thought—the ability to keep a picture in one's head of an absent object—and the beginning of imagination, the human being's unique intellectual gift.
Below the age of 2, it is rare that such a young child would be interviewed in a court proceeding. This is mainly because of the lack of verbal ability to describe or even draw an event with any accuracy. One particular child I treated in my practice was 13 months old at the time his father strangled his mother in a room next door to where the infant slept in a crib. It was difficult to ascertain if he knew anything that had happened in the adjoining room. He was referred to me because of the custody struggle between the brother of the convicted murderer, the parents of both brothers who also wanted to raise the child, and the new wife of the murderer who married him in prison and who wanted to adopt the child. My task was not to unearth any memory of the murder incident, but to treat the child for the anxiety he was experiencing as a result of being moved from home to home during the custody proceedings. When I did see him for therapy a year after the murder incident, his play was that of a child who was frightened, insecure, and anxious. He generally put a miniature doll in a dollhouse room and barricaded it with all the toy furniture. As the therapy progressed, as he grew to trust me, and as the custody issues were resolved, his play became more of that of a normal child. Whether there remains some unconscious memory of the incident is something we will probably never know, but certainly, there appears to be no reliable way of recovering these memories for use in such legal proceedings.Ages Two to SixPhysical Development
The growth rate for children is faster during their first few years than at any other time except during a spurt of growth in adolescence. Between 2 and 6, coordination increases so that by kindergarten children run, skip, jump, climb, throw, dance, and pedal a tricycle. Some by age 6 can ski, skate, and swim. Children's fine motor movements enable them to hold a pencil correctly, do puzzles, tie shoes, cut their own food, manipulate stringing beads, draw, use scissors, and paste. Children's exuberance and energy often lead to accidents. At every age boys [Page xxxiv]tend to have more accidents than do girls. On the other hand, not all injuries to children at this age are the result of accidents. There are parents who claim a child has been in an accident, when beatings, inflicted burns, and even starvation account for their injuries. In 1974, Congress passed the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (1974), which requires physicians, teachers, and other persons aware of any suspected injury to a child to report it to public authorities.Intellectual Development
Children at these ages learn primarily through their actions and senses. They are attempting to master many cognitive skills such as learning to attend and concentrate, to associate words and symbols with objects, and to perceive and discriminate. They are also learning how to identify similarities and differences among objects and how to classify these objects. For example, preschoolers begin to see that animals, vehicles, and fruits and vegetables belong in specific categories. They are uncertain about concepts such as space, shape, time, and size, and do not recognize age differences. Therefore, they may distort facts because of their inability to process information as correctly as an older child would. A taller person, for example, would be described by preschoolers as older than a shorter person. Children also have trouble recognizing unfamiliar people, which may affect their testimony. In the classic book, Eyewitness Testimony, by Elizabeth Loftus (1979), she summarizes experiments where children were asked to remember information after exposure to films or to pictures and found that children are “relatively inaccurate” and “highly suggestible” (p. 160). They can be influenced by subtle changes in the questions posed to them and may feel frightened about entering the court system. Similarly, Goodman found that in following a group of 218 children through criminal court and collecting data on them, younger children had a more difficult time answering the attorney's questions and testified in less detail than did older children (Goodman et al, 1992).
Preschoolers are curious and love to explore. Reasoning at these ages is intuitive rather than logical and accounts for their delightful expressions. They are concerned more with “why” rather than “how.” For example, most children at this age do not understand how things in nature are formed. One child, in a daycare center where we were conducting a study, explained that a giant made big footsteps in the ground, and then when it rained, a lake appeared. She also believed that the rain was caused by a person in the sky turning on faucets.
Language development increases gradually in the use of complex and compound elaborations. We hear children engage in echolalia, the repetition of other people's words and phrases. Until about age 3, “conversation” takes the form of a monologue—just continuous talking without truly listening to another person's point of view—or a child may engage in collective monologue where a child talks alongside another child at the same time, but is not truly responsive to the other child's conversation. Social speech with actual listening and replying to the other person comes later. Preschoolers are developing a sense of humor and enjoy talking nonsense, using words that shock, making scatological jokes, and enjoying slapstick and tricks. They reach a plateau of sentence length at about age 4 1/2 years. By age 5, children can master most of the grammatical structure of adult speech. The advance in language development will be advantageous when a child is asked to offer testimony in cases where the child witnessed a heinous crime.
In terms of legal issues, it behooves an attorney to be aware that in cases involving children as eyewitnesses, the child below the age of 6 will have difficulty with recalling [Page xxxv]particular facts. A young child may also have difficulty in understanding that another person's thoughts are not the same as his or her own. The conception of a child's distinguishing his or her mental expectations or experiences from others has opened an exciting and challenging area of research (Harris, 2000; Wellman, 1990). As the British psychologist Alan Leslie (1987) pointed out some years ago, a child's “theory of mind” (the awareness that “I have thoughts and they are different from other people's thoughts”), may well depend on experiences garnered in pretend play. At Yale, we have directed studies that have shown how children engaging together in make-believe play demonstrate advances in recognizing others' thoughts or in differentiating fantasy representations from reality (Rosen, Schwebel, & Singer, 1997; Schwebel, Rosen, & Singer, 1999).
Astute questioning is needed to enable a child to retrieve information that may have been stored through images or witnessed under traumatic circumstances. Anne Graffam Walker, a forensic linguist, suggests that in questioning children below the age of 6 who have been abused, it is a good idea to tell children that you need their help and that they should tell all, even if they think the attorney, or psychologist, or social worker already knows everything. She suggests being specific, repeating proper names and places to lessen confusion. Walker states that it is important, wherever possible, to avoid the use of complex words or negatives like “no” and “not” in questions. Finally, she believes that because it takes a child 1.9 times as long as an adult to process information, one should wait as long as 10 seconds after a child finishes an answer before asking another question because a child may provide additional information (Greer, 2004).
Young children can deal with the present and remember things in the immediate past and even some events that may have occurred a year ago, but the future is more difficult for them to comprehend. If you say that we will go on a trip next week on Sunday, each day until that day, the preschooler asks, “Is this Sunday?” This difficulty in understanding time sequence is one more impediment to the accuracy of a preschooler's testimony in court. Goldstein, Freud, and Solnit (1973) in their seminal book, Beyond the Best Interests of the Child, were cognizant of the time dimension in adoption proceedings. They state, “The courts, social agencies, and all adults concerned with child placement must greatly reduce the time they take for decision[s]” about placement (p. 42). They suggest that “irreparable damage” will occur the longer courts delay the placement. They argue, too, for placement with a parent who meets the psychological needs of a child. This parental role can be “fulfilled either by a biological parent or by an adoptive parent or by any other caring adult—but never by an absent, inactive adult, whatever his biological or legal relationship to the child may be” (p. 19).
Preschoolers believe that wishes can influence reality and are dismayed when a wish does not come true. How often do we hear of a child who believes that such a wish will make his or her parents reconcile after a divorce? Children at this age are capable of increased symbolic thought, meaning that they are now able to substitute objects in their mind for those that are not present. This accounts for the tremendous involvement in play and make-believe. In my psychotherapy practice, I have witnessed children of divorce playacting the reconciliation of parents in their use of puppets and then learning through therapy how to cope with the inevitability that this reconciliation may not occur.
Two of the many researchers studying the effects of divorce on children have reached different conclusions about its impact. Wallerstein (2000) reported on a sample of 131 children, whom she followed over a 25-year period. She found that divorce was an extremely traumatic experience. The children [Page xxxvi]she tracked experienced more depression, greater learning difficulties, and more aggression toward parents and teachers. The greatest toll on their lives was during early adulthood. On the other hand, Hetherington (2002), in a study of 2,500 children over a 30-year period, found that only about 25% of the children she studied had serious social and emotional problems that appeared to require professional attention as a result of divorce. Variables to consider in any study of divorce are the temperaments and resiliency of the children and the nature of the divorce— whether the divorce is a disruptive one or an amicable one—and of course the degree of positive involvement by the custodial or noncustodial parent with the children.
All states have gender-neutral child custody laws, which have replaced laws and precedents that generally gave preference to mothers in custody decisions. A study by Stamps (2002) found that in a questionnaire given to 149 judges, they still indicated preference for maternal custody. Fraser (2001) reported similar results examining 455 legal and mental health responses to a questionnaire regarding decision making for children in Los Angeles County. A case of spouse brutality in Wisconsin led to a new law overturning joint custody in situations of abuse, asserting that it is against a child's best interest to give custody to a parent who has committed a serious act of spouse abuse or who is engaged in a pattern of abuse (Pommer, 2004). This decision is important in terms of visitation rights. Children who are forced to visit abusive parents may believe that the judge accepts and even approves of their parent's abusive behavior (Bancroft & Silverman, 2002).
On another note, many parents argue about visitation rights when one of the parents moves to another state. This issue of relocation is one of the most contentious in custody cases. Mothers, who generally have physical custody of the children in about 80% of cases, often find that they cannot move out of state because the father refuses to allow the children to relocate. In a recent ruling, the California Supreme Court decided that the parent with physical custody has the right to choose the child's residence unless the other parent can demonstrate some detriment to the child that would result (Eaton, 2004). This ruling may eventually affect other states. A child is affected by the decisions made by each parent concerning the child's welfare and one wonders what is the “best interest” rule here. At times it is useful to have the court appoint a guardian ad litem for a juvenile when a conflict of interest exists between the parents and the juvenile. This guardian acts as the supporting parent to the child.Social Development
Dramatic play, a feature of play in general, is most evident for 3- to 5-year-olds. This play becomes increasingly more social and complex. Dramatic play is one important way to help children begin to distinguish between reality and fantasy. You hear children say “Let's pretend,” or “Let's make-believe” before they start their play. They begin to appreciate the social differences among their peers and enjoy communicating with them although there may be frequent, but brief, arguments. Playgroups are loose and easily disbanded; although children begin to choose a best friend, these choices may not last long at this age. Self-reliance is evidenced in terms of clothing choice, eating, cleaning their rooms, and helping to do simple chores in preschool and around the house. Parents are still the most important adults in children's lives, but children begin to form attachments to other adults during this period of development.Emotional Development
The emotions of preschoolers are fairly fluid with rapid changes of mood, from [Page xxxvii]independence to clinging, affection to hostility or anger, security to feelings of insecurity. Children at these ages like to win at games and are devastated if they lose. Jealousy, the fear of loss of possessions, loss of love from caregivers, and fear of physical vulnerability are fairly common among preschoolers. Electronic media present an additional challenge for these young children. Because they have a difficult time separating reality from fantasy, television programs that feature violence seem very real and may be frightening to them (Cantor, 2001).
Preschoolers begin to worry about physical harm and death at around age 5, but do not fully understand what death means. Cartoons suggest that when a character is hurt he can reappear whole again. There is some concern about being left alone and about the loss of a parent. Studies by psychologists on the adjustment of children after a parent's death suggest that children need considerable support during their grieving and recovery period (Garbarino, 1992). Preschoolers tend to translate thoughts and feelings into words and actions immediately. Some children, however, cannot express their concerns through the use of words, and they react to anxiety through various regressive acts such as thumb-sucking, bed-wetting, clinging, nightmares, and other physical signs of distress. Imaginative or socio-dramatic play is important in furthering emotional well-being. Through these kinds of play the child can try out various roles of persons, real and fantastical—teacher, doctor, fireperson, police officer, king or queen, evil witch, or monster—and express feelings of anger, sadness, fear, and joy. Through play, the child learns to socialize, share, take turns, and cooperate.Moral Development
Until age 4, there is no sense of obligations to rules. Behavior is governed by fear of punishment or submission to wishes of adults. Toddlers also believe in what Piaget (1965) calls “immanent justice,” that objects have within them the power to punish. If, for example, children play with matches and are burned, they believe that the “burn” was their punishment because they disobeyed. Gradually, the young child develops a conscience and has a rigid idea of right and wrong. It is important for preschoolers to focus on telling the truth, but they may seem to tell lies. This is often a consequence of their inability to distinguish clearly between reality and fantasy. They are also susceptible to bribes and threats. In the famous McMartin Preschool case, caregivers were wrongfully accused of child abuse because children had difficulty remembering facts, but also because they were suggestible during questioning by parents, and by the psychologist who tested them (Perry & Wrightsman, 1991). In a meta-analysis examining numerous studies of research involving children as expert witnesses, Demmie (1999) found that young children are the most vulnerable and at the greatest risk for suggestibility. Paul Ekman (1989), a psychologist who studies emotions, indicates that it is not always easy to detect liars through their facial expressions, voice, or body movements. When very young children, however, have extended discussions about the difference between truth and lying (Huffman, Warren, & Larson, 1999), or when 4-year-olds are taught to say “I don't know” when uncertain (Nesbitt, 1999), or promise to tell the truth (Talwar, Lee, & Bala, 2002), lying is significantly reduced.Ages Six to NinePhysical Development
This period from ages 6 to 9, in general, is one of good health, but these school-aged children are concerned about gaining [Page xxxviii]physical competence. They are interested in active and energetic games and sports, although block play, play with trains, and even dollhouse and puppet play may continue for the 6- and 7-year-olds. Up to 8 years, boys are heavier and taller than girls, and then girls begin to catch up in weight and height. Until about age 9, large-muscle control is superior to small-muscle control for both sexes. Most girls, however, will engage less in rough-and-tumble games than boys. Games of skill are important, but children below age 9 often overestimate their capacities. They enjoy climbing, running, jumping, swimming, skating, and become more daring on the playground—trying to climb higher or riding a bike with no hands; girls skip rope with more complicated jumps. The improvement in large motor skills and coordination by both sexes enables them to engage more in competitive sports and they may begin to join organized leagues.
Children now gain better control over fine motor skills so that using pencil, pen, and arts and crafts materials is easier. There is a general decrease in errors of judgment, and perspective in drawing begins. Some children study a musical instrument using their small motor skills for correct fingering. This involvement in learning an instrument may continue as children grow older. As children improve in musical performance, they acquire skills in timing and in mathematical awareness.Intellectual Development
Children ages 6 to 9 can now think out rather than act out solutions to problems, but they still think concretely and are less able to deal with abstractions. They look at the world naturalistically rather than just magically. They are able to think more logically about things in distant time and space and are curious about how things work. Other symbol systems besides language are learned such as numbers, maps, signs, and graphs. Children of these ages use television as a main source of entertainment more than any other group (Rideout, Vandewater, & Wartella, 2003). They also are challenged by the computer and use it for games as well as communications with friends. Because children are vulnerable to the advertisements on the various Web sites, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (1998) requires that commercial Web sites aimed at children under 13 must give parents notice about their data collection practices and obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting information about their children. Commercial Web sites must also provide parents with access to the collected information and the opportunity to curtail any further uses of this collected information (Turow, 2001).
Parents also need to be aware of how computers play a role in their lives in terms of chat rooms and possible communication with predatory adults or children's access to online pornography. Although there are arguments for filtering information on the Internet, the American Library Association (2003) maintains reasonably that parents have the right to decide which materials are appropriate for a child, and that teaching children to think critically about the materials they read and view helps them to make positive choices.
Language skills are more advanced at this stage than previously, with a growth in vocabulary, both oral and written, and an increase in speed and extension of vocabulary with more complex use of language. Children take pleasure in role-playing; making up rhymes, songs, and stories; tongue twisters; secret codes; and riddles and jokes. Children are able to control their behaviors through covert speech. The ground rules of conversation are now more advanced and the child can realize the position of the listener. Memory is increasing. As mentioned [Page xxxix]above, children in this early-elementary school period think concretely. Many children become great collectors. They do jump from subject to subject and this enables them to sample and develop their own interests rather than adult-imposed ideas. Reading plays a major role in this period and is of paramount importance in order to master a variety of school subjects. There is constant improvement in communication skills through using opportunities to talk, listen, read, and write. These language skills enable children to express their needs more clearly and have some bearing on children's expression of preferences in custody disputes.Social Development
There is a growing sense of independence at these ages, along with a sense of industry in construction and planning (Erikson, 1968). There is an energy and eagerness to try to do new things and to watch and imitate people around them who are engaged in various occupations. Identification is mainly with family figures, teachers, religious leaders, and media-related characters. Individuation in relation to the family begins and peers are now important, replacing adults as major source of behavior standards and recognition of achievement. Self-esteem is dependant on what friends think of one. Children are selective about close friends and may seek a permanent friend or even make an enemy. Quarrels and boasting are frequent. There is some defiance of adult authority and conflict between adult and peer codes. Peers dictate dress that may cause some strain with parents. Self is seen more in terms of social roles or labels such as age, sex, race, religion, and class. The self-concept is gradually forming through a growing self-evaluation according to parent and teacher criteria. Television and other electronic media influence children at these ages in terms of role models and heroes. Interest in video and computer games is prevalent and boys, especially, tend to be attracted to the more action-oriented and violent forms of games (Singer & Singer, 2005). Special skills are now manifested through an interest in music, art, sports, science, and crafts. Sex-related division of interests is developing in terms of play styles and hobbies. Contrary to the notion of Sigmund Freud (1905/1962), who labeled this time in the 6- to 9-year-old's life as “latency” characterized by a delay of physical sexual maturation, no interest in sexual matters, and a repression of sexual thoughts, a child in this period is indeed curious about sex, and as Erikson (1962) points out, is accepting and adjusting to bodily changes.Emotional Development
Children gain a sense of competency during this period. They become less egocentric and can be more empathie. They can see themselves with some objectivity. A love of ritual still remains with incantation and repetition for its own sake as a part of the process of warding off danger and fear. As part of forming group identity, children may join clubs at this age with secret passwords. Fears are still present, and children are still vulnerable to the negative effects of violent television and violent video games. Magic and make-believe become increasingly private activities and may take the form of poetry, prose, making up simple plays, and music preferences. There is enjoyment of fantasy as evidenced by the widespread popularity of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings books and films.Moral Development
Morally, until about age 8, the sense of right still lies in literal obedience to rules. There is a sense of obligation still based [Page xl]on submission to authority and fear of punishment. By 9 years, children are more aware of the purposes of rules and what the consequences are if rules are violated. The concepts of right and wrong, however, are still rather rigid. Children at these ages tend to judge themselves and peers more harshly than adults and if they break rules, they will create elaborate rationales and self-justifications for having done so.
Morality, by and large, is imposed from without by significant authority figures such as God, parents, teachers, or law enforcers. In a sampling of studies comparing preschoolers with early elementary-aged children concerning their understanding of a lie, it was found that the older children ages 7 and 10 rated truths more positively than lies more often than younger ones, aged 4 (Bussey & Grimbeck, 2000); 4-year-olds were more suggestible than 8-year-olds (Shapiro, 2002); and 4-year-olds exhibited less accuracy in response to direct questions compared to children aged 8 (Poole, 2001).Ages Nine to TwelvePhysical Development
By about age 9, fine motor stills are improved such as writing, drawing, tying of knots and laces, and use of tools and gadgets. Motor skills, using large-muscle movements, are also evident in such activities as bicycle riding, scooters, trampolines, ice skating, roller skating, hockey, swimming, skiing, and soccer. There is even greater skill, strength, and coordination for the 12-year-olds. Hand-eye coordination and perception are much improved, as is demonstrated by building complicated constructions of various objects using arts and crafts materials, making intricate puzzles, model building, sewing, and knitting. There is a continued interest in video and computer games. This period continues to be, in general, one of good health. Girls are generally taller and heavier than the boys aged 9 to 12. Secondary sex characteristics appear for some girls in this 11- to 12-year-old range.Intellectual Development
Children are still in the concrete-thinking stage of development and abstract thinking will emerge more fully as they approach adolescence. They may just begin to attempt to construct theories and make logical deductions. They are less reliant on visual modes of representations. Curiosity is on the increase and there is a growth of individual cognitive interests, and they are more likely to pursue a subject in depth than previously. They remain collectors but with more avid interest in staying with one collection of objects than earlier.
Language skills continue to grow with further opportunities to talk, listen, read, and write. Memory capacity is still increasing. Nine- to 12-year-olds gradually begin to construct theories and make logical deductions. They are less reliant on visual modes of representations. Children can tell more complicated jokes than before and a sense of humor is apparent for many children. There is further growth in vocabulary both oral and written, with more complex use of language. There is a continuation of role-playing, making up rhymes and songs, and writing poetry and stories. Reading speed increases and children expand their choices of reading material.Social Development
The peer group continues to replace adults as the major source of behavior standards and recognition of achievement. Children increase their friendship circles and they become more outgoing, but there are more social fears emerging, evidenced by the strong concern about how others will regard them. [Page xli]Children at these ages are becoming part of a subculture with its own values, rules, codes, superstitions, and rituals. There is a continued defiance of adult authority and conflict between adult and peer codes. Music is extremely important in the lives of this age group, with many girls developing crushes on rock stars or movie stars. Boys, too, become interested in music with more involvement with rap or heavy metal groups than girls, who tend to prefer the more romantic songs, rhythm and blues, and even some of the “oldies.” Television and video games remain an important part of the entertainment life of this age group and there is particular enjoyment among girls of teen movies. By ages 9 or 10, children develop a sense of humor with appreciation of satire, sarcasm, and putting down of adult pomposity. Thus, many children are great fans of MAD magazine.Emotional Development
At these ages, there is a concern and curiosity about sex, and some crushes may develop, particularly for children who observe older siblings dating or who become engrossed in viewing soap operas or particular situation comedies where there are many sexual innuendoes. Hero worship continues as in previous years. A best friend is still essential in a child's life. There is an increasing movement toward independence or sepa-rateness as evidenced through exploration of unknown places around their home, school, and if they can, their town. Mood swings may be in evidence so that many parents feel that this is a difficult time for them in terms of communicating with their children. Although these children feel independent, they still seek and want parental guidance and support. This may be evidenced by ambivalence and unpredictable behavior. Children may also feel frustrated or guilty because they cannot live up to a set of standards required by family or school.Moral Development
Morally, these preteens are capable of understanding that rules and codes are suggested courses of action rather than absolutes. By 10 years, children look more to intention. They express the fairness sentiment by taking into account moderating circumstances. A noble sense of justice is coming to the fore with a clearer understanding of what is right and what is wrong. The 9- to 12-year-olds take into account the personal circumstances of each situation when considering a person who lies.Ages Twelve to FifteenPhysical Development
Rapid growth follows puberty in both boys and girls after age 12 with primary and secondary sex characteristics appearing. There is great variation, so that some 13-year-old girls may still have some of the 10-year-old's characteristics and this may affect self-esteem. They worry about the appearance of their skin, height, and weight. Girls more often than boys may develop anorexia or bulimia, trying desperately to look as thin as the role models with whom they identify on television or in film. The early bloomers in terms of physical characteristics may become more popular in school. For girls, this may lead to early sexual activity, and in some cases teen pregnancy. The late bloomers among boys find this period especially difficult. They feel somewhat inferior to the boys who are now growing more rapidly, developing their secondary sex characteristics, and who may become the popular sports heroes. Because of the use of growth hormones as a treatment technique with short youths, a study of 956 students of both genders in Grades 6 through 12 was conducted by Sandberg and colleagues (Sandberg, Bukowski, Fund, & Noll, 2004). [Page xlii]Contrary to earlier research concerning negative stereotypes regarding adjustment of short youths (Karpati, Rubin, Kieszak, Marcus, & Troiano, 2002), the researchers found that there were no significant relationships between height and measures of friendship, popularity, or reputation with peers. They concluded that extremes of stature have a “minimal detectable impact on peer perceptions of social behavior, friendship, or acceptance” (Sandberg et al, 2004, p. 744). These data, however, still do not preclude giving serious consideration to the boy or girl who expresses anxiety about his or her height.
Diet and sleep habits tend to be poor for the 13- and 14-year-olds. Nevertheless, teenagers have greater skill, strength, and coordination that is now helpful in the sports arena. Unfortunately, teenagers experiment with cigarette smoking, alcohol, and drugs at these ages, as well. In a sample of 48,500 students from Grades 8 to 12, more than 54% of U.S. youth by 12th grade have tried smoking, with about a quarter of 12th graders still smoking (Johnston, O'Malley, Bachman, & Schulenberg, 2003). Alcohol remains extremely widespread among today's youth. The report found that nearly four out of every five students (77%) have consumed alcohol by the end of high school; nearly 50% have done so by 8th grade. The only drugs showing an increase among 8th graders were inhalants. Other drug use such as marijuana, tranquillizers, and amphetamines showed some decline in 2003 compared to previous years, but hallucinogens other than LSD showed no decline. Obviously, the anti-drug campaigns on MTV and other sources such as pamphlets, school curricula, and church groups have helped with the lessening of some drug usage, but there is still a problem with drinking and smoking among young people. In terms of aggression, sex differences have been examined in a meta-analytic review (Archer, 2004), and it was found that physical aggression was more common in males than in females across cultures and at all ages sampled, occurring from early childhood on with the peak between 20 and 30 years. Anger showed no differences between the sexes.Intellectual Development
These young teenagers can think more abstractly and have the ability to construct theories and mentally test them out. There is much questioning about existing ideas, especially where authority is concerned. Teens question how choices are made and the logic behind these choices, and they acknowledge that there are many ways to solve problems and that solutions are not always evident or to their liking. They are curious about politics and community organizations, and they may take an interest in school government. They are learning how to be sensitive to another's viewpoint and have lost some of their egocentricity. They are learning how to negotiate in varying contexts and debating is often an outlet for expressing their ideas. Language skills are increasing through a growing vocabulary, through the use of more complex syntax, and through the increased ability to use similes and metaphors. They can engage in more sophisticated discussions with parents, peers, and teachers.Social Development
One of the most important aspects of the social life of the teenager is to be accepted by the peer group. The loner suffers in high school and may often be bullied. It is important for teens to have a sense of belonging either to same-sex or mixed-sex groups. Peer pressure is strong in terms of behavior patterns, concerning the use of drugs, alcohol, and whether to engage in sex. Cliques are fairly common in this age group, with strong pressure to conform to peer society. Fads are often changing in terms of music preferences, [Page xliii]hair style, clothing, and language (use of slang and common expressions that only teens seem to understand). Peers continue to dictate dress and this may cause further strain with parents, especially since some youths at this age ask for tattoos or body piercing. Subcultures develop, as expressed in meeting places where these young people hang out, and by their choice of magazines, music, Internet favorites, and use of chat rooms. Studies of teen magazine readers found that girls who are socialized to be feminine look to magazines as much as they do to friends for advice on fashion, beauty and how to deal with relationships with males (Duke & Kreshel, 1998; Greer, 2004). Electronic media continue to be used mainly for viewing sports by boys, while girls tend to prefer to watch MTV and soaps. Both boys and girls generally enjoy reality shows on television.
Studying and reading for school take much of the teenager's time. An interest in being a scout, participating in a Big Brother or Big Sister program, or doing some other volunteer work such as a candystriper in a hospital, appeals to some teenagers. Socially, girls are more advanced than boys at this age. Both sexes are vulnerable to criticism and wear a façade or mask of “cool” for protection; they feel that the opinion of others is very important. Teens are restless, and need frequent changes of pace and breaks for relaxation, but if interested in a subject, they can pursue it with intense concentration. Family values are still important, but they question these and consider alternatives as far as religion and politics are concerned. Thus, they are susceptible to the influence of radical sects, ideas, and lifestyles. In some extreme cases, teens who are rebellious may even consider emancipation. Only a few states allow minors to file for emancipation (“Emancipation of a Minor,” 2004). Most states only consider a child legally emancipated after age 18. If the court grants emancipation to a minor, it may only be because there is some action on the part of the parent such as abuse or neglect, or because the minor has received permission from the parent because of a marriage or joining the military (Maryland Legal Assistance Network, 2004). There are some children who are runaways and seek help through friends, underground newspapers, or hotlines. They generally do not move too far from home, and try to find shelter in churches, centers set up to aid runaways, or in crash pads. Because of their lack of funds they may sell drugs, or engage in prostitution.Emotional Development
The teenager asks the question, “Who am I to be”? Erikson calls this stage in life “identity confusion” where young persons question their religious, ethnic, and sexual identity. With genital maturation and the uncertainty about making choices about their future, they need “a moratorium for the integration of the identity elements” (Erikson, 1968, p. 128) that have taken place in the earlier stages of development. Thus, there is a good deal of stress and conflict that is family-and school-related. Friendships are intense, but so are the quarrels. There is a strong desire for independence and at the same time the young person unconsciously seeks controls and limits set by parents and other adults—teachers, coaches, and religious leaders. There is an increased interest in sex-related issues and temptation to explore many sexual relationships. In addition, there are great fluctuations of mood along with a tendency to daydream and to fantasize.Moral Development
Young people in this age group can now consider a variety of perspectives in making moral choices. They begin to develop their own code of ethics and moral principles aside from the authority of the groups of persons who advocate them. They are in the [Page xliv]autonomous stage of moral thinking according to Piaget (1965). They accept the moral principle that “right” is defined by laws, but for some more thoughtful adolescents, there is also a belief that right is defined by individual conscience in agreement with one's own ethical code or principles. There is the dilemma of how to accept an adult code when one's own sense of fairness is in conflict with this code. In Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck's sense of morality prevented him from betraying Jim, the runaway slave, to his would-be captors. Huck cannot accept the prejudices of the adult community and thus he tells a lie to save Jim. Nevertheless, teenagers generally develop a sense of responsibility to the social system as a whole. They believe that “they must be good in order to keep the system from disintegrating and in order to maintain self-respect by meeting personal obligations” (Perry & Wnghtsman, 1991, p. 85). If they are involved in court trials at this age, it is relatively easy to explain what is expected of them in terms of telling the truth.Implications and Recommendations
The issues raised by this developmental summary suggest how members of the legal profession may need to work together with psychologists to meet the needs of young children who are involved in testimony in the courts, or in other matters related to law. Attorneys, social workers, and others involved with the court system could benefit from either a formal course in developmental theory, or at the very least, becoming familiar with the literature in this area.
Increasingly, children are brought into court to testify in cases of child abuse and neglect, child custody disputes, and to bear witness to a serious crime. Young children are more apt to make errors in memory, especially if they testify long after an event has occurred. In addition, language skills are often not well developed in younger children, and therefore may impede the ability of a child to express him- or herself in a coherent manner. Children also may often agree with the examiner in order to please, even though they have not actually witnessed a detail in an event related to a crime. Young children are suggestible, and leading questions may result in a child answering the examiner incorrectly. Preschoolers are especially poor in their ability to tell the examiner exactly where they obtained their information (Berk, 2005).
Young children may be fearful of the physical appearance of the courtroom and its imposing surroundings. Some of the procedures commonly used by the courts to elicit testimony from a child call for modification based on whether a child is able to handle questions in direct examination, or in cross-examination. Should there be limits placed on such examinations? Questions posed to children need to be simple and without the use of complex clauses or ambiguities. Difficult vocabulary must be avoided. In cases of sexual abuse, should the use of anatomical dolls be permitted in order to obtain evidence? How valid is this as a technique for uncovering instances of sexual abuse? Should a child be forced to face the accused? Should videotaped testimony or a screen be allowed, rather than having a child confront the accused?
Child witnesses are able to understand more easily what occurs in a courtroom and what to expect if they are carefully prepared. There are “court schools” where children are taken through the procedures step by step and given an opportunity to actually visit a courtroom, sit in the witness chair, and practice answering questions about unrelated events. Children can also testify over closed-circuit television so that they do not have to face the offender. This reduces the stress for [Page xlv]a child and at the same time protects the defendant's constitutional rights (Berk, 2005; Perry & Wrightsman, 1991).
To shed some light on the subject, legal and mental health professionals met together at the 11th National Conference on Children and the Law in Washington, D.C., from June 3 to June 5, 2004, to discuss numerous issues relating to both fields (Bailey, 2004). Social scientists explained how research involving children and adolescents' development could inform the legal process. Topics such as privacy issues, placement of children, eyewitness testimony, preparing a child for testimony, how to ask questions relating to child abuse, and how to deal with a client's emotions in high-conflict divorce and child-maltreatment cases were among the many topics presented at the conference (Bailey, 2004; Murray, 2004).
Research concerning brain functioning also was presented, specifically noting the research that indicates that brains do not develop fully until age 25 and what the ramifications are for teenage testimony (Kersting, 2004a). Special education issues were also discussed in terms of children's rights and the need for an advocate for a child if rights are not being upheld (Kersting, 2004b).
Conferences such as this one can surely pave the way for a more integrated use of social science literature in the legal system and lead to outcomes that are truly in the best interests of the child.ReferencesAmerican Library Association(2003). Libraries and the Internet tool kit. Chicago: Author.Sex differences in aggression in real-world settings: A meta-analytic review. Review of General PsychologyVol. 8No. 4(2004). pp. 291–322.(2004, July/August). Joining together for children's interests. Monitor on Psychology, p. 78.(2002). Batterer as parent: Addressing the impact of domestic violence on family dynamics. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781452240480, &(2005). Infants, children, and adolescents (5th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.Children's conceptions of lying and truth-telling: Implications for child witness. Legal & Criminal PsychologyVol. 5(Part 2)(2000). pp. 187–199.(2001). The media and children's fears, anxieties, and perceptions of danger. In D. G.Singer & J. L.Singer (Eds.), Handbook of children and the media (pp. 207–221). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) Pub.L. 93–247, § 88 Stat. 4 (1974).Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, S. 2326, 105th Cong. 2d Session (1998).Children's Television Act, P.L. 101–437, § 103 (1990).(1999, March). Suggestability of children's recollections: A meta-analysis. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, Vol. 59(9–13)5134. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms International.Negotiating femininity: Girls in early adolescence read teen magazines. Journal of Communication Inquiry22No. 1(1998). 48–72.[Page xlvi](2004, August 8). Divorced parents move, and custody gets trickier. The New York Times, p. A-1.(1989). Why kids lie. New York: Scribner.(1962). Childhood and society. New York: Norton.(1968). Identity: Youth and crisis. New York: Norton.Emancipation of a minor (2004). Retrieved August 7, 2004, from http://peopleslaw.org/children/emancipation/emanciption%20home.htmFederal Communications Commission (FCC). In the matter of policies and rules concerning children's television programming: Report and order. Federal Communications Record11(1996). 10660–10778.Individuation and attachment in personality development: Extending Erikson's theory. Journal of PersonalityS3(1985). pp. 224–256.(2001, April). Decision making in child custody: A comparison of legal and mental health professionals. Dissertation Abstracts InternationalVol. 61(9-A)3786. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms International.(1962). Three essays on sexuality. In J.Strachey (Ed.), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (pp. 135–231). London: Hogarth Press. (Original work published 1905)(1992). What children can tell us. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.(1973). Beyond the best interests of the child. New York: The Free Press., , &Testifying in criminal court. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development57(5)(1992). pp. 1–142.(1999). The scientist in the crib: Minds, brains, and how children learn. New York: Morrow., , &(1992). Induction of brain structure by experience: Substrates for cognitive development. In M.Gunnar & C. A.Nelson (Eds.), Minnesota symposia on child psychology (pp. 155–200). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum., &(2004, July/August). A look at limitations of studies on child suggestibility. Monitor on Psychology, p. 79.(2000). The work of the imagination. Maiden, MA: Blackwell.(1953). Human development and education. New York: Longmans and Green.(2002). For better or worse: Divorce reconsidered. New York: Norton.Discussing truth and lies in interviews with children: Whether, why, and how?Applied Developmental ScienceVol. 3(1)(1999). pp. 6–15.(2003). Monitoring the future: National results on adolescent drug use. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute on Drug Abuse., , , &Stature and pubertal stage assessment in American boys: The 1988–1994 Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Journal of Adolescent Health30(2002). pp. 205–212.[Page xlvii](2004a, July/August). Brain research advances help elucidate teen behavior. Monitor on Psychology, 80.(2004b, July/August). Meeting children's special education needs. Monitor on Psychology, 80.Pretense and representations: The origin of theory of mind. Psychological Review94(1987). 412–426.(1988). The early window: Effects of television on children and youth. New York: Pergamon Press., &(1979). Eyewitness testimony. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Maryland Legal Assistance Network(2004). http://www.mdjustice.org/public/mlan.html(2004, July/August). Determining the best place for maltreated children: A call for help. Monitor on Psychology, 78.Improving young children's accuracy of recall for an eyewitness event. Journal of Applied Developmental PsychologyVol. 20(3)(1999). pp. 449–459.(1991). The child witness: Legal issues and dilemmas. Newbury Park: Sage., &(1952). The origins of intelligence in children. New York: International Universities Press.http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/11494-000(1965). The moral judgment of the child. New York: The Free Press.(1968). The psychology of intelligence. New Jersey: Littlefield, Adams.(2004, February 28). Law makes abuse top custody matter. The Capital Times, Madison, WI.Children's eyewitness reports after exposure to misinformation from parents. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied7(1)(2001). pp. 27–50.(2003). Zero to six: Electronic media in the lives of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers (A Kaiser Family Foundation Report). Menlo Park, CA: The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation., , &Preschoolers' attributions of mental states in pretense. Child Development66(1997). 1133–1142.Height and social adjustment: Are extremes a cause for concern and action?Pediatrics114(3)(2004). pp. 744–750.Preschoolers' pretend play and theory of mind: The role of jointly-conducted pretense. British Journal of Developmental Psychology17(1999). 333–348.(2002). Suggestibility in children's eyewitness testimony: Cognitive and social influences. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences & Engineering, Vol. 63 (4-B). Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms International, p. 2086.(2005). Imagination and play in the electronic age. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press., &Maternal preference in child custody decisions. Journal of Divorce & Remarriagevol. 37(1–2)(2002). pp. 1–11.Children's conceptual knowledge of lying and its relations to their actual behaviors: Implications for court competence examinations. Law & Human Behaviorvol. 26(A)(2002). pp. 395–415.(2004). Development in the first years of life. In E. F.Zigler, D. G.Singer, & S. J.Bishop (Eds.), Children's play. The roots of reading (pp. 15–31). Washington, DC: Zero to Three Press.[Page xlviii](1950). Fostering mental health in our schools. Washington, DC: National Education Association., &(2001). Primary policies on children's websites: Do they play by the rules?Washington, DC: Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.(2004). Real and not real: A vital developmental dichotomy. In E. F.Zigler, D. G.Singer, & S. J.Bishop (Eds.), Children's play. The roots of reading (pp. 49–58). Washington, DC: Zero to Three Press.(2000). Unexpected legacy of divorce: A 25 year landmark study. New York: Hyperion.(1990). The child's theory of mind. Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press.
This volume grew out of the second annual conference of the Center for Children and Families (CCF) at the University of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law, entitled “Children, Culture, and Violence,” held March 20—21, 2003, co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Children's Literature and Culture (CSCLC), also at the University of Florida. Barbara Bennett Woodhouse, the Director of CCF, and John Cech, the Director of CSCLC, were instrumental in organizing a multidisciplinary conference that drew together an amazing group of scholars collectively engaged in confronting this important topic. It was immediately apparent that finding a way to publish findings and to include other noted scholars unable to participate in the conference was a primary goal. Two of the conference presenters, Dorothy Singer and Robin Wilson, committed early on to be part of this effort, and were instrumental in gathering the outstanding authors represented in this volume, and were joined by Nancy Dowd, Co-Director of CCF. The University of Florida College of Law and the University of Maryland School of Law generously supported this project, with research support, outstanding librarians, and ongoing support for the book at all stages. We would particularly like to thank Jon Mills, who was then Dean of the University of Florida College of Law, as well as Florida's current Dean, Robert Jerry, for their generous support.
Nancy Dowd would like to thank Teris Meija, who provided research support that was invaluable to her work on the book. All of us lean on our families when we do this kind of work. Nancy would like to thank her children, Zoe and Zack Dowd, who once again have been incredibly understanding when Mom has been working on “the book.”
Dorothy Singer would like to thank Jane Erickson and Brittania M. Weatherspoon at Yale University for their assistance with clerical matters. Dorothy thanks her husband, Dr. Jerome L. Singer, for his understanding and moral support throughout this undertaking.
Robin Wilson thanks her 10-year-old son, Glen, for believing in Mom and feigning interest in “Mom's book.” Pamela Melton, John Duncan, Yvonne McMorris, Michael Clisham, and Kenneth Wilkinson provided endless assistance and encouragement in everything from the concept for the volume through its completion.
Rosemary Howard has been an incredible research assistant, editorial manager, and project leader. She has been tireless in her efforts for all three editors and this book could not have been done without her amazing work.
We all thank Jim Brace-Thompson, our Senior Editor, for his continual encouragement and careful reading of the book, and Karen Ehrmann, Teresa Herlinger, and Kristen Gibson for their editorial help and support and attention to the many details involved in the preparation of this volume.
In addition, the following people reviewed this book:
Elizabeth D. Hutchison
Virginia Commonwealth University
Department of Communication
Ohio State University
Senior Research Associate
National Youth Gang Center
Department of Psychology
University of Michigan
University of Illinois
Charles Garvin[Page 1]
Professor Emeritus of Social Work
The University of Michigan
About the Editors[Page 477]
Nancy E. Dowd is Chesterfield Smith Professor of Law at the Fredric G. Levin College of Law at the University of Florida, and Co-Director of the Center for Children and Families at UF. The author of In Defense of Single-Parent Families (1997) and Redefining Fatherhood (2001), and a reader on feminist legal theory, she has published extensively on nontraditional families, work/ family issues, civil rights, and feminist theory.
Dorothy G. Singer is Senior Research Scientist, Department of Psychology, Yale University. She is also Co-Director, with Jerome L. Singer, of the Yale University Family Television Research and Consultation Center, and a Fellow of Morse College at Yale. She is also a Fellow of The American Psychology Association. Research interests include early childhood development, television effects on youth, and parent training in imaginative play. She has written 19 books (some of which have been translated into Japanese, Dutch, Turkish, Italian, and Thai), and over 160 articles. Her latest books with Jerome L. Singer are Handbook of Children and the Media, Make-Believe: Games and Activities for Imaginative Play, and Imagination and Play in the Electronic Age. A recent book, Children's Play: Roots of Reading, edited by E. Zigler, D. Singer, and S. Bishop-Josef, was selected for CHOICE's Outstanding Academic Title list. Dr. Singer received the Distinguished Scientific Contribution to the Media Award from Division 46 of the American Psychological Association in 2004.
Robin Fretwell Wilson is Associate Professor of Law at the University of Maryland School of Law. She has published articles on the risks of abuse to children in the Cornell Law Review, the Emory Law Journal, the Journal of Child and Family Studies (two featured articles, in press), and the Child and Family Law Quarterly, a British publication. She has testified on the use of social science in legal decision making before the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice Joint Hearings on Health Care. A member of the Executive Committee of the Family and Juvenile Law Section of the Association of American Law Schools, Professor Wilson frequently lectures on violence against children, including presentations at the Family Law Project hosted by Harvard University Law School; the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in London, England; the Third International Conference on Child and Adolescent Mental Health in Brisbane, Australia; and the IXth Regional European Conference of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, in Warsaw, Poland. Professor Wilson is the editor of a forthcoming volume with Cambridge University Press on child and family policy entitled Reconceiving the Family: Critical Reflections on the American Law Institute's Principles of the Law of Family Dissolution.[Page 478]
About the Contributors[Page 479]
Craig A. Anderson is Professor and Chair of Psychology at Iowa State University. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Society and the American Psychological Association. Anderson's 100+ publications span many areas, including judgment and decision making; depression, loneliness, and shyness; personality theory; and attribution theory. His recent work has focused on developing the General Aggression Model, integrating insights from cognitive, developmental, personality, and social psychology. Hs pioneering work on video game violence has led to consultations with educators, government officials, child advocates, and news organizations worldwide.
Laura Braslow is a New York City-based research consultant specializing in quantitative study design and the management of administrative data for policy applications. She has conducted numerous policy-relevant research projects in the areas of criminal justice, civil liberties, good government, health care, and social and environmental justice, and is currently working on another study with Ross Cheit focusing on motions to reduce criminal sentences.
Naomi Cahn is Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School, where she teaches courses on family law and children and the law. Professor Cahn has written numerous articles in the areas of children's rights and feminist jurisprudence, and recently co-edited Families by Law: An Adoption Reader (NYU Press, 2004). She has held a variety of positions in both the private and public interest sectors, including as a staff attorney with Philadelphia's Community Legal Services. From 1988 to 1993, Professor Cahn was the assistant director of the Sex Discrimination Clinic at Georgetown University Law Center, supervising students who were litigating domestic violence cases. Professor Cahn's contribution to this volume was greatly aided by comments from Joan Meier and Jerry Silverman and by research assistance from Terra Nevitt and Lucy Cutolo.
Joanne Cantor is Professor Emerita at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has published more than 90 scholarly articles and chapters on the impact of the media, with an emphasis on children's emotional reactions to television and films. Her parenting book, Mommy I'm Scared: How TV and Movies Frighten Children and What We Can Do to Protect Them, translates her research findings for the general public. Her children's book, Teddy's TV Troubles, helps parents and young children work together to calm fears. Cantor's Web site, http://www.tvtroubles.com, keeps interested parties abreast of the latest developments in research and policy.
John Cech is Professor of English at the University of Florida, and the Director of the University's Center for Children's Literature and Culture. He is also the producer and host of Recess!—a daily public radio program about the cultures of childhood, past and present. He is the author of numerous works, both scholarly and creative, for both children and adults, including: Angels and Wild Things, The Archetypal Poetics of Maurice Sendak (1994) and the novel, A Rush of Dreamers, Being the Remarkable Story of Norton I, Emperor of the United States and[Page 480]Protector of Mexico (1998). Cech is the editor of American Writers for Children, 1900—1960 (1982), and is a contributor of essays, articles, and reviews to both scholarly and popular publications. His children's books include My Grandmother's Journey (1991); First Snow, Magic Snow (1992); Boy With a Camera (1994); and The Southernmost Cat (1995). Cech is a past president of the Children's Literature Association, and is a recipient of the Chandler Award for his contributions to the field of Children's Literature.
Ross E. Cheit is an associate professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Brown University. He teaches a seminar on the criminal justice system and a course on children and public policy. He is engaged in several research projects involving criminal courts, including another project with Laura Braslow, focusing on motions to reduce criminal sentences in Rhode Island. He is also working on a book on the law and politics of child sexual abuse in contemporary America.
Ellen W. deLara is an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at Syracuse University and a Visiting Fellow at the Family Life Development Center, Cornell University. She is the author of And Words Can Hurt Forever: How to Protect Adolescents From Bullying, Harassment, and Emotional Violence (2002) and An Educator's Guide to School-Based Interventions (2003), both written with Dr. James Garbarino. Her research interests focus on school violence and adolescent development. Dr. deLara presents nationally and internationally on the need for systemic and policy changes to improve school climate and reduce bullying.
Lauren G. Fasig is the former Director of Policy and Communications for the Society for Research in Child Development. She served as the James Marshall Public Policy Scholar of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues and the American Psychological Association. Her research interests focus on policies designed to support families, juvenile justice reform, and alternative approaches to dispute resolution in family matters.
David Finkelhor is Director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, Co-Director of the Family Research Laboratory, and Professor of Sociology at the University of New Hampshire. He has been studying the problems of child victimization, child maltreatment, and family violence since 1977. His work on the problem of child sexual abuse is reflected in publications such as Sourcebook on Child Sexual Abuse (Sage, 1986) and Nursery Crimes (Sage, 1988). In his recent work, he has tried to unify and integrate knowledge about all the diverse forms of child victimization in a field he has termed Developmental Victimology. He is editor and author of 11 books and over 100 journal articles and book chapters. In 1994, he was given the Distinguished Child Abuse Professional Award by the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children.
Mark R. Fondacaro is Associate Professor of Psychology and Associate Director of the Levin College of Law Center on Children and Families at the University of Florida. He teaches law and social science, children's law, juvenile law, scientific evidence, criminal law, psychology and law, consultation and social intervention, and abnormal psychology. His core research interests focus on procedural and distributive justice and their relationship to family conflict resolution, juvenile justice reform, ecological jurisprudence, school violence prevention, and health care decision making.
Douglas A. Gentile is a developmental psychologist, and is an assistant professor of psychology at Iowa State University and the [Page 481]director of research for the National Institute on Media and the Family. Dr. Gentile has authored numerous studies and is the editor of the recent book, Media Violence and Children: A Complete Guide for Parents and Professionals. He directs the Media Research Lab at Iowa State University where he conducts research on media's impact on children and adults (both positive and negative). He received his doctorate in child psychology from the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota.
Matthew Owen Howard is Professor of Social Work and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan where he teaches courses in psychiatric diagnosis and substance abuse treatment. His research interests include delinquency, personality disorders, and substance-induced neuropsychological impairments in adolescents. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Michigan, Dr. Howard was a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington, a Research Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Oregon Health Sciences University, and Associate Professor of Social Work at Washington University.
Dale Kunkel is Professor of Communication at the University of Arizona, where he studies children and media effects issues. In the 1990s, he was Co-Principal Investigator on the National Television Violence Study, one of the largest scientific studies of violent content.
Susan P. Limber is Associate Director of the Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life and Professor of Psychology at Clemson University. Dr. Limber's research and writing have focused on legal and psychological issues related to youth violence (particularly bullying among children), child protection, and children's rights. She directed the first widescale implementation and evaluation of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program and co-authored the blueprint for the Bullying Prevention Program. Currently, she is providing consultation to the National Bullying Prevention Campaign. In 2004, Dr. Limber received the American Psychological Association's Early Career Award for Psychology in the Public Interest.
Thomas D. Lyon is Professor of Law and Psychology at the University of Southern California. His research interests include child abuse and neglect, child witnesses, and domestic violence. He is a past president of the American Psychological Association's section on Child Maltreatment and a former member of the Board of Directors of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children. He has published over 20 papers; has given over 30 research presentations at psychology conferences; and has conducted over 60 trainings with judges, attorneys, law professors, social workers, psychologists, and reporters. His work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the United States Department of Justice, the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, the California Endowment, and the Haynes Foundation.
Nicole Martins is a doctoral student in the Department of Speech Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests include the social and psychological effects of mass media on children and adolescents. She is currently working on studies of the impact of media violence on children's emotions. She also is a research assistant on a longitudinal study that examines the role of the media on body image and disordered eating among elementary school children.
Mindy B. Mechanic is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at California State University, Fullerton. Her work focuses [Page 482]on the psychosocial consequences of trauma and interpersonal violence. Specific topics she has studied include intimate partner violence, stalking, domestic homicide, and the co-occurrence of child maltreatment and intimate partner violence She also works in the area of forensic psychology and has served as an expert witness in cases involving battered women charged with crimes and other legal cases involving victimization.
Natalie J. Purcell is early in her career at the University of California, San Francisco, where she has been researching obstetric exposures and neonatal/pediatric outcomes. In addition to her research in the medical field, Ms. Purcell is most interested in studying the role of commercial media in sub-cultural and mainstream America. Her first book, Death Metal Music: The Passion and Politics of a Subculture, was published by McFarland in 2003. In the future, she hopes to research the role of pornography and other media in gender role socialization.
Charles Putnam is Research Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of New Hampshire. He joined Justiceworks, a research and development institute at the University of New Hampshire specializing in criminal justice issues, in December, 2001. He was a member of the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office for 15 years before joining Justiceworks. His research interests include the prosecution of crimes against children, the impact of technology on criminal justice information systems, and the evolving issues of personal privacy versus public access to information held by government agencies. Putnam teaches a variety of courses, including Children and the Law, Mock Trial, and Introduction to Justice Studies.
Richard E. Redding is Professor of Law at Villanova University School of Law, Research Professor of Psychology at Drexel University, and Director of the J.D./Ph.D. Program in Law and Psychology at Villanova and Drexel Universities. His research interests include sentencing policy for serious juvenile offenders, the mental health needs of juvenile offenders, forensic mental health issues in juvenile justice, and trying and sentencing juveniles as adults. Professor Redding has served on state and national juvenile justice task forces; conducts forensic evaluation training programs for mental health professionals; and is a consultant to the U.S. Justice Department, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Catherine J. Ross is Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School. She has been a visiting professor at the law schools of Boston College and the University of Pennsylvania. She holds a PhD in History and was a post-doctoral fellow at the Yale Bush Center in Child Development and Social Policy. Before attending law school she was on the faculty of the Yale Child Study Center. A former chair of the American Bar Association's Steering Committee on the Unmet Legal Needs of Children, she currently chairs the Committee on the Rights of Children of the ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities. She has served on the editorial boards of the Family Courts Review and the Family Law Quarterly.
Diana E. H. Russell is Emerita Professor of Sociology at Mills College, Oakland, California. She has authored, co-authored, edited, or co-edited 17 books, mostly on sexual violence. Her book, The Secret Trauma: Incest in the Lives of Girls and Women, was co-recipient the C. Wright Mills Award for outstanding socially significant social science research. Her three books on pornography include an anthology entitled, Making Violence Sexy: Feminist Views on Pornography, Against Pornography: The Evidence of Harm and Dangerous Relationships: Pornography, Misogyny, and Rape. She is [Page 483]currently seeking a publisher for her manuscript entitled Stolen Innocence: The Damaging Effects of Child Pornography— On and Off the Internet. Her research interests continue to focus on sexual abuse and violence against girls and women.
Nancy Signorielli is Professor of Communication at the University of Delaware, Newark. Her primary research area focuses on television content and how media images are related to people's conceptions of social reality (cultivation theory). Her research examines gender roles, media messages about health and nutrition, and television violence. Her research has appeared in numerous journals and edited books including Sex Roles, the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, and the Handbook of Children and the Media.
Laurie N. Taylor researches and teaches on video games and digital media at the University of Florida. She has published articles in Game Studies, Media/Culture, Computers and Composition Online, and ImageTexT: Interdisciplinary Comics Studies, and has forthcoming articles in several collections on video games. She also writes newspaper and online gaming columns, and radio programs for the public radio program Recess! with the most recent program being about toy theaters.
Brendesha Tynes is an assistant professor of African American Studies and Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign where she teaches adolescent development and African American psychology. Her current research interests include race, identity, and intergroup communication online as well as the uses of multi-cultural curricula to reduce prejudice. She received a Ford Pre-doctoral Diversity Fellowship and was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship from the American Educational Researchers Association. Tynes has also published several articles and book chapters that explore adolescent online discourse.
Barbara J. Wilson is Professor and Head of the Department of Speech Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research focuses on developmental differences in how children and adolescents respond to the media. She is co-author of Children, Adolescents, and the Media (Sage, 2002) and three book volumes of the National Television Violence Study (Sage, 1997—1998). She has published over 50 articles and chapters on the impact of media on youth. Recent projects focus on children's attraction to cartoon violence, children's identification with media characters, and parents' and children's fight reactions to television news.
Barbara Bennett Woodhouse holds the David H. Levin Chair in Family Law at University of Florida's Levin College of Law. She is also Director of the Center on Children and Families and Co-Director of the Institute for Child and Adolescent Research and Evaluation at University of Florida. Before joining the Florida faculty, she was a co-founder of the Center for Children's Policy Practice and Research at University of Pennsylvania. Her area of specialty is children's rights and child law.
Lara Zwarun is an assistant professor of Communication at the University of Texas at Arlington, where she teaches advertising and communication law. Her research focuses on the effects and regulation of sensitive media 1messages.