Introduction to the First Edition
Raising healthy children is a labor-intensive operation.
Contrary to the news from the broader culture, most of
what children need, money cannot buy. Children need
time and space, attention, affection, guidance, and con-
versation. They need sheltered places where they can be
safe as they learn what they need to know to survive.
I t isn ’ t anyone ’ s imagination that working with American chil-
dren is getting harder and harder. Despite our attempts at
optimism and the old lyrics “Why can’t they be like we were,
perfect in every way—what’s the matter with kids today?”
every experienced educator knows that the job was easier
three decades ago. There are so many theories about why this
is so that the topic could fill volumes. At a conference of edu-
cators at Harvard University, Jerome Kagan (1998) pointed out
that in addition to the impact of both heredity (genes inher-
ited from our birth parents) and the environment (people and
places affecting our experiences after birth), psychologists are
seeing more and more how society and culture at large affect
growth and development.
What factors in American society affect the growth and
development of our children? We live in one of the more vio-
lent countries of the developed world. Many Americans feel it
is not safe to walk alone in their own neighborhood at night.
This concern is well-founded. According to the Sentencing
Project, a nonprofit agency devoted to improving the justice
system, the crime rate in the United States exceeds that of
most other nations (Siegel 1998).
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