Children at Risk in America

History, Concepts, and Public Policy

Edited by Roberta Wollons

Subjects: Early Childhood Studies
Series: SUNY series, Youth Social Services, Schooling, and Public Policy
Paperback : 9780791411988, 336 pages, December 1992
Hardcover : 9780791411971, 336 pages, December 1992

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Table of contents


Roberta Wollons

Part I: Historical Public Discourse

1. Child Saving in Modern America 1870s-1990s
Hamilton Cravens

2. Status Offenders, Criminal Offenders, and Children "At Risk" in Early Twentieth-Century Juvenile Court
Steven Schlossman and Susan Turner

3. Structuring Risks: The Making of Urban School Order
Joseph L. Tropea

Part II: Reconceptualizing Children at Risk

4. Making Controversy: Who's "At Risk?"
Michelle Fine

5. Children's Legal Rights? A Historical Look at a Legal Paradox
Michael Grossberg

6. Inventing the Problem Child: "At Risk" Children in the Child Guidance Movement of the 1920s and 1930s
Margo Horn

Part III: Contemporary Public Discourse

7. Children at Risk: Students in Special Education
Alan Gartner and Dorothy Kerzner Lipsky

8. Language and Ethnicity as Factors in School Failure: The Case of Mexican-Americans
Patricia Gandara

9. Adolescent Pregnancy and Child Support
P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale and Maris A. Vinovskis

10. Reversing the Poverty Cycle with Job-Based Education
Robert I. Lerman

11. Public Policy and Child Care: The Question of Quality
Judith D. Auerbach

12. Public Policy and Child Protection
James Garbarino and Kathleen Kostelny




This collection of essays addresses twentieth-century historical and contemporary issues regarding children who are considered to be at risk. The essays explore the language of risk as it is used by the courts, the schools, governmental agencies, and child advocates, those who discover risks and create correctives for children who both need protection and threaten to disturb the social order. The tasks require an exploration of differing, often contradictory, concepts of the child and society that are embedded in public policy debates. Deepening the complexity of the problems, institutions to which we look for solutions are too often faced with conflicts that arise when the needs of the child are at variance with the needs of the institutions themselves. These dilemmas are central to understanding our failure to achieve adequate public policy solutions for children at risk.

Roberta Wollons is Visiting Professor at the Center for American Studies at Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan.


"This is an excellent example of sound multi-disciplinary research. It should be very useful for those in the fields of educational policy and history, sociology, political science, government planning, welfare reform, child development, juvenile justice, and family policy. " — Barbara Beatty, Wellesley College

"So much of what has been published on education for this population has been focused on curriculum and pedagogy. We have needed a good exploration of public policy issues, which is the precise emphasis of this book. It is crucial to situate the discussion in an historical context. " — Barry M. Franklin, Kennesaw State College