THE VULNERABLE CHILD: What Really Hurts America's Children and What We Can Do About It by Richard Weissbourd

THE VULNERABLE CHILD: What Really Hurts America's Children and What We Can Do About It

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A well-grounded examination of the stresses faced by American children today, and some practical solutions to reduce these stresses. Weissbourd, special adviser on family issues to Vice President Al Gore, outlines the negative effects of divorce, parental stress, and relocation on American children. Although the national debate has focused on children from poor, single-parent homes, Weissbourd convincingly argues that parental stress ""often more powerfully influences a child's fate than whether there are two parents in a home or whether a family is poor."" Living in a ghetto does not preclude a healthy home environment. Weissbourd is intent on shattering other myths as well. Among the nation's poorest children, there are far more whites than African-Americans. Severely troubled childhoods do not doom us, the author also notes. In fact, they often generate effective coping skills that can be brought into adulthood. And while parents may believe that they have little influence over their teenagers, studies show that teens ""trust the counsel of their parents more than that of their peers in making key decisions about the future and that teenagers are powerfully affected by their parents' values."" Weissbourd targets mobility as a primary cause of stress in young people's lives. Children who move often lose the constancy needed to thrive. To reduce the impact of these upheavals, he suggests that cities and schools help mediate tenant/landlord disputes. Another key is early identification and treatment of at-risk children, with services geared to help the entire family. Documenting programs and schools that have worked, Weissbourd poses viable solutions that have proven effective with our most vulnerable children. Provocative and timely, this analysis offers a fresh voice of hope for America's troubled youth.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1996
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Addison-Wesley