Some early video games, as well as many recent ones, were and are self-consciously educational and prosocial. Most would agree that video games of the 1970s, such as Pong, carried little more developmental risk than a game of table-tennis. The primary criticism at the time was that they fostered sedentary behavior in children. Many surveys of video games of the 1990s, however, tend to reveal both violent and sexist content. More serious criticisms include the promotion of short-term and long-term aggressive behavior through exposure to on-screen violence and the formation of negative gender stereotypes through exposure to passive, sexualized, and/or victimized female characters. Other research suggests that children's prosocial behavior may be reduced by playing video games. Technology improvements have allowed photorealistic effects, which lend credence to the view that negative effects found for television viewing may be true for playing video games as well. Nevertheless, findings for long-term developmental effects are not consistent. The conservative assessment is that more study is needed.


Cesarone, Bernard. ''Video Games and Children.'' In ERIC Digest [web site]. Urbana, Illinois, 1994. Available from http:// www.ed.gov/databases/ ERIC_Digests/ed365477.html; INTERNET

Dietz, T. L. ''An Examination of Violence and Gender Role Portrayals in Video Games: Implications for Gender Socialization and Aggressive Behavior.'' Sex Roles 38 (1998):425-442.

Van Schie, E. G. M., and O. Wiegman. "Children and Video Games: Leisure Activities, Aggression, Social Integration, and School Performance.'' Journal of Applied Social Psychology 27 (1997):1174-1194.

Derrald W. Vaughn Heather Kelly


Violence in the United States is widely viewed, by policymakers and researchers, as an epidemic and a major public-health problem. Particularly in the wake of high-profile school shootings that occurred in the late twentieth century, the American public has shown increasing concern about violent adolescents and the harmful effects that exposure to violence has on children and adolescents. While high rates of lethal violence warrant attention, many more youth are exposed to chronic, nonlethal violence and aggression in their homes, schools, and communities. Violence rates generally follow economic trends and affect all youth, although poor, urban, and minority youth are most at risk. This article provides an overview of the incidence of violence, including suicide and homicide, among children and adolescents and its effects on them, and briefly reviews the effectiveness of intervention and prevention approaches to mitigating violence and its effects.

The Incidence of Violence Aifecting Youth

After their peak in 1993, national crime rates, including juvenile crime rates, declined. Between 1993 and 1997 victimization from serious violent crime dropped 25 percent for adults, from 4.2 to 3 million, and 33 percent for youth, from 1,230,000 to 830,000. While this decline is encouraging, overall rates of violent crime remain alarmingly high. For instance, victimization rates for youth under age fifteen in the United States dramatically exceed those in other industrialized countries, particularly when firearm use is considered. Juveniles are twice as likely as adults to be victims of serious violent crimes and three times as likely to be victims of simple assault.

Juvenile Homicide

Juvenile homicide is the most severe and disturbing type of youth violence. The distinction between homicide and nonlethal violence may be somewhat arbitrary, however, because similar actions can produce either lethal or nonlethal outcomes.

Juvenile Victims

At the beginning of the twenty-first century in the United States, homicide was the second leading cause of death for youths age ten to nineteen. Homicide is the first leading cause of death for black male youths. Of all murder victims in 1997 (18,200 victims or 7 per 100,000 people living in the U.S.), 11 percent (2,100 victims or 3 per 100,00 juveniles living in the U.S.) were under age eighteen. Most juvenile victims (71%) were male black youths. Although black youth comprised only about 15 percent of the juvenile population, they were five times as likely as white youth to be homicide victims in 1997. This is a decrease from 1993 when the ratio was seven to one, but the ratio remained high compared with the early 1980s. Juvenile homicide rates for Latino youth appear comparable to those for blacks; for Native Americans the rates of violent victimization are the highest.

Despite some published reports, students are safer at school than elsewhere. Compared with nonurban youth, urban youth are at greater risk for violent victimization, including homicide, in any setting. All children are at highest risk for victimization in the hours immediately after school.

Firearm use among youths is a serious issue. Homicides of youths age fifteen to seventeen are more likely to involve firearms than for any other age group. In this age group, 86 percent of all homicides involved firearms. Rates of firearm-related juvenile homicide increased dramatically between 1987 and 1993, from about 800 victims (41% ofjuvenile homi cides) to about 1,700 victims (61% of juvenile homicides), and showed some decline along with other crime statistics to about 1,200 victims (56% ofjuvenile homicides) in 1997. However, the rates of juvenile homicide with a firearm have continued to exceed those where no firearm was used.

Juvenile Perpetrators

Patterns of violent crime committed by youths generally mirror those for the general population. Juveniles committed approximately 12 percent of all murders in 1997. It is estimated that in 1997, of 18,200 murders committed, about 2,300 murders were committed by juveniles. Unlike murders committed by adults, 44 percent of all murders by juveniles involved more than one perpetrator (often including a young adult). Ninety-three percent ofju-venile murderers were male, 56 percent were black, and 88 percent were between the ages of fifteen and seventeen. Juvenile murderers are more concentrated in urban areas and are usually the same race as their victims.

Violence and Gangs

Gangs are active in urban, suburban, and rural areas. Most gang members are male (92%) and nearly half (40%) are under age eighteen. While the number of gangs and gang members decreased in the late 1990s, youth gangs remain responsible for a disproportionate share of all violent and nonviolent crime. Rates of violence are significantly higher for gang members than for non-gang members, and the rates are higher during gang membership than before or after.

Violence and Drug Use

Surveys of high school seniors show that the risk for perpetration of and victimization by violent and nonviolent crime is higher among students who use illicit drugs. Using multiple ''hard'' drugs was associated with the highest rates of violence.

Juvenile Suicide

Although not interpersonal violence, suicide is a form of violent death affecting youth. While suicide risk, contrary to homicide risk, is higher for adults than for juveniles, adolescent suicide gets much more attention. Seven percent of all suicides in 1996 involved youth age nineteen and under. For every two young people murdered in the United States, one commits suicide. Youth suicide victims are overwhelmingly male (8 of 10), white (8 of 10), and teenage. Suicide rates for black male youth are parallel to but lower than those for white males. Females are more likely to ''attempt'' suicide. Between 8 percent and 9 percent of all youths have attempted suicide.

Clinical and epidemiological comparisons between youth suicide and homicide show that their rates tend to be similar, although homicide rates are higher. The fact that the rates are parallel over time suggests that they respond to similar social pressures, such as economic changes.

Child Abuse/Domestic Violence

Younger children are more likely to be victims of violence by family members. Between 1980 and 1997, most murdered children under age six were killed by a family member, whereas most adolescents were killed by an acquaintance or stranger. Differing definitions of child abuse and domestic violence among states and across settings (e.g., legal, medical) make it difficult to determine prevalence precisely. In 1993, nearly 3 million children were maltreated or endangered in the United States; of these, 43 percent were abused. From 1987 to 1996, the number of reported cases of abuse doubled. It is estimated that more than 10 million U.S. children are exposed to marital violence each year.

An Ecological Framework for Understanding Violence

To understand the effects of violence on child development, an ecological framework is useful. Violence is seen as embedded in layers of the child's ecological world. For instance, intrafamilial violence (child maltreatment and domestic violence) occurs in the child's immediate environment. Community (and school) violence occurs where the child and family interact with the social systems of the outside world. Media and societal violence occur in the larger social context. An ecological framework also aids in understanding what protects against and what raises the risk for poor outcome of children exposed to violence by considering the role of child, parents, and peers, and family and community resources.

The Effects of Violence on Children

Some children are exposed to a single severe violent event, such as being caught in sniper fire while leaving school. The negative impact of such exposure is well documented, with these children demonstrating traumatic effects such as reexperiencing and avoiding the trauma, and overreactivity.

Many children, though, are affected by chronic, pervasive forms of violence (e.g., witnessing drug deals, hearing gunfire, fighting) that occurs in multiple areas of their lives (e.g., home, neighborhood,

Violence can be introduced into children's lives through many channels, including media elements like video games that feature realistic weaponry and high "body counts." (Anthony Snyder/Corbis)

school). They may experience such violence directly as victims, as witnesses or by knowing someone who has been victimized. Some researchers have proposed the concept of multiple risk, suggesting that as children are exposed to an increasing number of risk factors (including violence in multiple spheres), their likelihood for suffering poor outcomes increases disproportionately. In these children, although they may suffer symptoms of trauma seen in children exposed to single violent events, it is more likely that broader declines in functioning are evident, including increased depression and anxiety, increased aggressive and antisocial behavior, decreased social competence, increased delinquency, moral disengagement, as well as decreased academic performance.

It has been widely observed that not all children exposed to violence—even severe, pervasive, and chronic violence—show poor outcomes. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, research was beginning to identify the factors that influence the path from violence exposure to outcome and was considering the role of a wide range of contextual influences.

Violence Prevention and Intervention Programs

Violence prevention and intervention efforts for youth have been developed to target different groups and needs. Primary prevention programs are generally population-based, involving youth, peers, teachers, schools, and families, and are designed to promote prosocial behavior. Many of these programs target elementary school-age children. Secondary prevention and treatment programs target youth who are at high risk for exposure to violence or becoming violent. Tertiary intervention targets youth who are already perpetrators or victims. The most promising components of intervention programs appear to target social-cognitive skills such as perspective taking, generating alternative solutions, building peer negotiation skills, avoiding violence, and improving self-esteem. Such programs are generally considered most effective at the primary and secondary prevention levels.

Violence among youth and affecting youth is not an isolated phenomenon. Patterns of violent crime among youth follow larger societal patterns. Although the courts in the late twentieth century and into the new century tended toward punishment of juvenile offenders, research shows that programs favoring rehabilitation are better. For children exposed to multiple risk factors and levels of violence, single types of intervention, such as a school curriculum, are insufficient. Societal approaches to reducing violence must include a broad array of both governmental and private initiatives. Because the use of firearms accounts for a sustained high level ofjuvenile homicide rates, governmental regulations targeted toward decreasing access to weapons is necessary. And because more and more children are without parent supervision in the after-school hours when children are most likely to be victims of violence, increasing funding for after-school programs is another key factor in reducing violence and its effects on children.



Eron, Leonard, Jacquelyn H. Gentry, and Peggy Schlegel, eds. Reason to Hope: A Psychosocial Perspective on Violence and Youth. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 1994. Garbarino, James, Nancy Dubrow, Kathleen Kostelny, and Carole Pardo, eds. Children in Danger: Coping with the Consequences of Community Violence. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1992. Goldstein, Arnold P., and Jane Close Conoley, eds. School Violence Intervention: A Practical Handbook. New York: Guilford Press, 1997.

Holden, George W., Robert Geffer, and Ernest N. Jouriles, eds.

Children Exposed to Marital Violence: Theory, Research, and Ap plied Issues. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 1998.

Holinger, Paul C., Daniel Offer, James T. Barter, and Carl C. Bell.

Suicide and Homicide among Adolescents. New York: Guilford Press, 1994.

Osofsky, Joy D., ed. Children in a Violent Society. New York: Guilford Press, 1997.

Snyder, Howard N., and Melissa Sickmund. Juvenile Offenders and Victims: A National Report. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1999.

Trickett, Penelope K., and Cynthia J. Schellenbach, eds. Violence against Children in the Family and in the Community. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 1998.

U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 1998, edited by Kathleen Maguire and Ann L. Pastore. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1999.

Tanya F. Stockhammer

VYGOTSKY, LEV (1896-1934)

Lev Semenovich Vygotsky was a developmental psychologist known for his sociocultural perspective. Born into a middle-class Jewish family in Orsha, Russia, Vygotsky's faith and social standing shaped many of his choices and views. Academically successful, Vygotsky entered Moscow University in 1913, where he studied law, being one of the few professions that allowed Jews to live outside restricted areas. He simultaneously attended Shaniavsky University to study social sciences. After an impressive presentation of his doctoral dissertation on William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, entitled Psychology of Art, Vygotsky was invited to join the research staff at the Psychological Institute in Moscow, where he met Alexander Luria, who was to become his colleague and collaborator.

Vygotsky posited two types of psychological functioning: ''natural,'' consisting of biological growth, both physical and cognitive development; and ''cultural,'' consisting of learning to use psychological and cultural tools, including signs, symbols, and language. Both natural and cultural functioning act in a mutually facilitative integrated process. Whereas Jean Piaget (1896-1980), Vygotsky's Swiss contemporary, proposed that instruction should follow development, Vygotsky saw development and learning as acting together to create higher psychological functioning. He suggested that learning and development are facilitated in a hypothetical region called the zone of proximal development (ZPD). This region represents the distance between the child's independent cognitive ability and the child's potential with the help of an adult or more competent peer. Thus, the child's natural ability is expanded upon through learning and does not fully mature without instruction. For example, in Thought and Language, Vygotsky examined lan-

guage, a socially acquired tool, and identified stages that begin with speech for the purpose of requests. This speech eventually becomes internalized into thought.

As war, poverty, famine, and social change took their toll on the children of Russia, Vygotsky turned his attention to children with disabilities. Considered ahead of his time, Vygotsky suggested that children with and without disabilities be educated together. He recognized that necessary social and cultural developments would be more likely to occur in an integrated environment and that isolation caused by an inability to participate in collective activities might have an even more deleterious effect than the original problems.

Vygotsky died of tuberculosis at age thirty-seven before he was able to offer a comprehensive theory of child development. His early death, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's ban on Vygotsky's works for political reasons, the Cold War, and the popularity of Piaget's ideas caused Vygotsky's theories to reach the West slowly. Nevertheless his ideas on socialization, language, and children with disabilities have influenced modern child developmentalists throughout the world.

See also: THEORIES OF DEVELOPMENT Bibliography

Berk, Laura E., and Adam Winsler. Scaffolding Children's Learning: Vygotsky and Early Childhood Education. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1995. Kozulin, Alex. Vygotsky's Psychology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990.

Publications by Vygotsky

Mind in Society, edited by Michael Cole, Vera John-Steiner, Sylvia Scribner, and Ellen Souberman. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978. The Vygotsky Reader, edited by René Van Der Veer and Jaan Val-siner. Cambridge, Eng.: Blackwell, 1994.

Carrie Lazarus Laraine Masters Glidden

Psychologist Lev Vygotsky viewed development and learning as partners in the creation of higher psychological functioning. (Archives of the History of American Psychology)

While the effects of war on adults, and the countries in which they live, have long been studied and fairly well understood, the effects of war on children were largely ignored until the late twentieth century. Increased scrutiny by the press, ''instant news,'' and twenty-four-hour cable coverage brought the ravages of war and children's circumstances into people's homes. For example, studies have shown that more than two-thirds of the children in the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s were afraid they were going to die, and an estimated 500,000 were traumatized by what they were forced to witness. Most countries recognize that children need special protection (but are often unable to provide it), with the minimum protective measures being that children must be shown special care appropriate for their circumstances, they should not be separated from their parents, they should not be recruited to fight in war if they are under fifteen years of age, and they should be evacuated from areas of danger to protected areas.



Qouta, Samir, Eyad El Sarraj, and Raija Leena Punamaeki. "Mental Flexibility as Resiliency Factor among Children Exposed to Political Violence.'' International Journal of Psychology 36, no. 1 (2001):17.

Smith, Patrick, Sean Perrin, William Yule, and Sophia Rabe Hes-keth. ''ADRA Dialogues with Security Council on Effects of War on Children.'' In the Adventist Development and Relief

Agency of Australia [web site]. Available from http:// www.adra.org.au/news/2000/28b_7_00.htm 2001; INTERNET.

Neil J. Salkind


Originally developed by David Wechsler in 1949, the third edition of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) was published in 1991. This standardized test is designed to measure children's (six to sixteen years of age) intellectual functioning in two broad areas. Verbal subtests require language skills similar to those used in schools, such as vocabulary and knowledge of general information. Performance subtests measure abstract reasoning in visual-motor abilities, such as constructing a puzzle.

Scores on the test consistently and accurately predict academic achievement. The WISC is one of the most commonly used tests for assessing a child's strengths and weaknesses in a variety of intellectual abilities. WISC scores can be used in conjunction with other information to diagnose learning difficulties. Although useful in diagnosis, the WISC does not provide information on intervention strategies.



Groth-Marnat, Gary. Handbook of Psychological Assessment, 3rd edition. New York: Wiley, 1999.

Kaufman, Alan S. Intelligence Testing with the WISC-III. New York: Wiley, 1994.

Kaufman, Alan S., and Elizabeth O. Lichtenberger. Essentials of

WISC-III and WPPSI-R Assessment. New York: Wiley, 2000. Sattler, Jerome M. Assessment of Children, 4th edition. San Diego, CA: J. M. Sattler, 1992.

Jo Ellen Vespo


The history of welfare programs in the United States is a controversial one. Although many other nations in the world have welfare systems, some of which provide certain kinds of assistance for all citizens, the United States has always been divided in terms of what welfare means and who should receive welfare benefits. The welfare system in America underwent significant changes in the late 1990s in order to reduce the number of people receiving certain types of welfare benefits. This occurred as a result of political and economic changes that caused American society to reexamine the meaning of its welfare programs against a rising tide of concern about and disdain for public assistance. In order to understand the welfare system of the early twenty-first century, however, it is important to first understand and reflect upon the inception and history of welfare in the United States.

Early History of Welfare in the United States

Prior to the Great Depression of the late 1920s and 1930s, there was no systematic federal service for providing help or relief to struggling citizens. State programs were fragmented, and charity was sporadically offered by various church organizations and community efforts. As the impact of the Great Depression spread across the United States, it was clear that some type of system was necessary in order to curtail the devastating effects of poverty and joblessness. President Franklin Roosevelt proposed a massive overhaul of the government by devising the New Deal in the 1930s, which was essentially a package of various social and welfare benefits aimed at relieving the effects of the Great Depression. The reality of this new welfare state would provide debate and controversy in political, social, and economic realms from that point forward.

Social Security

Although many Americans believe that welfare benefits to mothers and children were among the most costly and widely used welfare programs, in truth the biggest expenditures were funneled toward the Social Security program, developed in 1935. The Social Security Act (SSA) was targeted at several groups, including the elderly, the totally disabled, and families with children of deceased workers. Social Security was considered to be a universal program, in the sense that it was to provide coverage for all working Americans, as it continues to do. With this program, benefits were paid to individuals retiring from work at a preset age. The amount of benefits received was directly tied to the amount of money a person earned during her work history. Furthermore, if an adult or a child were deemed to have a significant disability that prevented the individual from working, then benefits would be paid to that individual through the Social Security Disability Income program, in the case of an adult, or the Supplemental Security Income program, in the case of a child. Finally, if a working parent were to die, then a specified amount of benefits would be paid to the surviving family. The Social Security program continues to provide benefits in this fashion, although it has been a source of some controversy, particularly because all individuals are entitled to these benefits, regardless of how much money they have or earn.

Employment Programs

The New Deal initiative with the second highest amount of funding was related to employment benefits, namely unemployment insurance and workers' compensation. Through the unemployment insurance program, workers who lose their jobs (not because of misbehavior or quitting) are allowed to collect a set amount of compensation, which is typically limited in duration to twenty-six weeks or less. Like Social Security, benefits are available to workers at all levels, with benefits being higher for upper-income jobs. Once individuals collect unemployment insurance, they must work for an additional period before being eligible to receive benefits again.

Workers' compensation is a welfare benefit that provides medical and cash assistance to individuals who are injured on the job. It is limited to job injuries only and provides aid to those who are not permanently disabled. Both unemployment insurance and workers' compensation continue to be provided in much the same fashion in the early twenty-first century, and both programs are considered universal, because they provide coverage to all working Americans.

Aid to Families with Dependent Children

Perhaps the most controversial welfare programs were and continue to be those related to mothers, children, and the poor. This third tier of welfare pro

In 1933, as part of the New Deal, President Roosevelt created Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). Essentially, individuals had to qualify for benefits by demonstrating need and by maintaining minimal assets of their own. (Stephen Ferry, Gamma Liaison Network)

grams, which received the least amount of initial funding compared to the other two, primarily targeted single mothers with children. In 1933 as part of the New Deal, Roosevelt created Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), which was a means-tested program. In its inception, this program was designed to be a short-term, transitional solution to the problems faced by single poor women with children, many of whom were minorities as well. Small cash benefits were offered to recipients, although the recipients were monitored by caseworkers who maintained a high degree of latitude in determining who would receive benefits and how much they would get. Although recipients were not expected to work, some Americans soon worried that these individuals were taking advantage of the system and that the benefits awarded to them were undeserved. The AFDC program quickly became the most stigmatizing welfare program to evolve from the New Deal.

Welfare Programs of the 1960s

As the use of these New Deal welfare programs exploded over several decades, the administrations of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson of the 1960s saw a resurgence of public interest in issues regarding minorities, the poor, and children. During this time, new welfare programs were created to help address the continued spread of poverty, homeless-ness, hunger, and medical problems—difficulties that plagued many of America's citizens. The Food Stamp

Act of the 1960s attempted to address the nation's problem of hunger by providing another means-tested program for the poor, the disabled, and single-parent households, in the form of food stamps. Also established was the Medicaid program, which was means-tested and offered medical care to poor children, people with disabilities, and the elderly. Unlike Medicare, the health insurance program for the elderly, Medicaid involved financial contributions from the states. These programs continued to exist into the twenty-first century, although many restrictions and time limitations had been added.

Welfare Reform

Although history shows that efforts were made, in particular decades and through particular political administrations, to address the effects of poverty, homelessness, and hunger on American citizens, there has always been controversy about the effectiveness of the means-tested programs, such as AFDC, food stamps, and Medicaid. Furthermore, the growth of AFDC, which had reached a peak of 14.2 million recipients by 1994, concerned many Americans. Consequently, in 1996 a sweeping welfare reform package entitled the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (PRWOA) was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. It effectively eliminated the nearly sixty-year-old entitlement welfare program initiated by Roosevelt. PRWOA remanded the responsibility for certain welfare programs back to the states. Block grants, in the amount of $16.5 billion, representing funds that would have been part of AFDC, were distributed to states in hopes that more effective and creative programs would be developed, based upon the particular needs of each state.

Within the PRWOA legislation, the new welfare program is called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and it differs significantly from the old AFDC program in many ways. One significant difference is that recipients are no longer guaranteed or entitled to receive assistance. Furthermore, TANF stipulated that eligible recipients of cash assistance must be working within two years of receiving benefits. Likewise, in an effort to address concerns about long-term welfare dependency, TANF placed a five-year, lifetime limit on receiving assistance except for a certain 20 percent of recipients who are considered to fall within a ''hardship'' category. Many states have opted to reduce the five-year cap to an even fewer number of years, which is allowed under the PRWOA legislation. The TANF policy is clear that only pregnant women and families with children are eligible for the assistance, although states have been given a certain amount of latitude in determining how they spend their federal block grant monies.

Since the enactment of TANF, the number of people on welfare has been reduced dramatically. By 1999, only 7.2 million recipients remained on welfare, compared to the 14.2 million of 1994. This 7.2 million figure included 2.6 million families and 5.1 million children. Policy analysts contended that several factors contributed to the decline in welfare numbers, including an improved American economy and tougher work requirements of the welfare programs. From the late 1990s into the initial years of the twenty-first century, recipients moved more quickly off of welfare than in the past, and fewer people began receiving benefits for the first time.

Analysis of Welfare Reform

At the start of the twenty-first century, advocates of welfare reform were pleased with the declining welfare caseloads and viewed the reform as a success. Opponents of welfare reform argued that poverty had not really been reduced, only the number of people receiving welfare benefits. The research regarding welfare reform was mixed, and any number of articles were available to point to either the success or failure of welfare reform. A New York Times article from January 23, 2000, indicated that the welfare-to-work policies had actually helped improve academic achievement of low-income students. The article went on to suggest that certain welfare programs empha sizing increased work and increased income improved the lives of children significantly. The author, however, did not mention that research existed suggesting that many children and families continued to live below the poverty line, despite increased income from work.

An article from the February 21, 2001, issue of the Boston Globe reported on a discrepancy in public opinion and policy analysis regarding the implications of welfare reform. Although some evidence confirmed that many recipients were leaving the welfare rolls and then finding and keeping jobs, other evidence showed that hunger and poverty continued to be significant issues that were not being addressed by the reform policy. The article reported that whereas 14 percent of families had reported hunger while receiving welfare benefits, 22 percent of families reported hunger after leaving welfare.


The issues surrounding welfare and welfare reform are controversial, political, and difficult to resolve. Almost seventy years after the formation of the welfare state, debate continued about who deserves and who does not deserve benefits. With TANF scheduled to be reauthorized and reevaluated in 2002, the successes and failures of U.S. welfare programs were certain to make for interesting policy discussions well into the twenty-first century.



Ellwood, David T. Poor Support: Poverty in the American Family. New

York: Basic, 1988. Morales, Armando, and Bradford W. Sheafor. Social Work: A Profession of Many Faces. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1989. Noble, Charles A. Welfare as We Knew It: A Political History of the American Welfare State. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Pear, R. ''Gains Reported for Children of Welfare-to-Work Families.'' New York Times (January 23, 2000):A11. Ranalli, R. ''Welfare Reform's Success an Issue.'' Boston Globe (February 21, 2001):10. Schneider, Anne L., and Helen M. Ingram. Policy Design for Democracy. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1997. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [web site]. 2001.

Available from http://www.acf.dhhs.gov; INTERNET. Walkowitz, Daniel J. Working with Class. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999.

Kim Harrison


Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a food assistance and nutrition program that provides supplemental food, nutrition education, and access to health care for pregnant women, women up to six months postpartum, women breast-feeding infants up to one year old, infants, and children under age five. Participants qualify based on nutritional risk and income at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level. (The Food Stamp Program income cut-off is 130 percent of the federal poverty level.) Participants receive monthly coupons for food rich in protein, iron, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin C (such as milk, cheese, eggs, fruit juice, cereal, peanut butter, legumes, infant formula, and infant cereal). The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds the program; services are provided at the local level through health services, social services, and community agencies. The program's purpose is to provide nutrient-dense foods and nutrition education at critical periods of growth and development to prevent health problems and improve the health status of low-income women and children in the United States.



Boyle, Marie A., and Diane H. Morris. Community Nutrition in Action: An Entrepreneurial Approach. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing, 1994.

Story, Mary, Katrina Holt, and Denise Sofka. Bright Futures in Practice: Nutrition. Arlington, VA: National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health, 2000.

Nicole B. Knee Janice Dodds


One hallmark of a successful transition to adulthood is the development of career aspirations and an identity as someone who works. It is during adolescence that these issues become particularly salient.

Developmental Roots of Industry, Identity, and Employment

According to Erik Erikson's work in the early 1960s, the primary developmental task of adolescence is to achieve a sense of identity, to determine who one is and what one's place in society will be. This task lays the groundwork for educational and career choices and the eventual attainment of adult self-sufficiency. The roots of the attitudes and skills necessary for the successful resolution of this developmental task of adolescence begin in infancy and early childhood.

Attachment theorists have proposed that infants are genetically endowed to experience satisfaction in exploring and manipulating the environment, a developmental antecedent of employment. In the early 1960s, Erikson, R. Havinghurst, and Donald Super noted the importance of the early childhood years for the development of attitudes and skills associated with working. During the third stage of Erikson's theory of psychosocial development, around age five, children experience pleasure in using tools and interacting with their environment; and during latency, his fourth stage, children internalize a work principle. Havinghurst proposed that between five and ten years of age children establish ''identification with a worker'' and during early adolescence (ten to fifteen years of age) children acquire habits of industry.

Through schoolwork, chores, and the requirements of hobbies, children learn how to apply themselves, set goals, work in teams, and accomplish tasks. Super concurred that vocational concerns develop gradually over the course of early childhood and then become more salient in adolescence. For Super the primary task of adolescence was the crystallization of a vocational preference, which involves the formulation of ideas about work and self, and could then evolve into an occupational self-concept. He took the position that a vocational self-concept is a reflection of a person's overall self-concept but more specialized in that it shapes educational and employment activities. Research has shown that by seventh grade children have developed work-relevant cognitions, attitudes, and feelings that are quite similar to those of adolescents and adults.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Adolescent Employment

Despite the importance of early childhood and family factors in the development of an adolescent's sense of industry and vocational development, little research has been conducted to determine the specific influences on this key developmental outcome. Researchers have proposed that early positive experiences with employment significantly contribute to the adolescent's emerging sense of industry and identity. Based on belief in the positive benefits of youth employment, federal policy and government legislation have expanded opportunities for youths to develop work experiences (e.g., the Job Training Partnership Act and its forerunner, the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act of 1973). The goal of encouraging young people to assume part-time employment during their high school years has been widely endorsed for many years. In 1999 Julian Barling and E. Kevin Kelloway determined that the average high school student works the equivalent of a


part-time job; by the time of graduation from high school, 80 percent will have held at least one parttime job.

The perceived potential benefits of youth employment include earning money, gaining relevant work experience, achieving autonomy, easing the transition from school to work, and developing work attitudes. Youth employment also provides employers with a ready supply of unskilled and inexpensive labor. Further, parents approve, believing that such experiences foster independence, responsibility, and improved attitudes toward school.

Further endorsements of youth employment come from Katherine Newman, who studied the employment experiences of Harlem youths and published her results in 1996. She found that although many young adults were in low-wage, seemingly deadend ''McJobs,'' these employment experiences also had many (sometimes hidden) benefits. Despite the fact that these jobs were tiring, boring, stressful, poorly compensated, stigmatized, and offered limited opportunities for advancement, the youths perservered because of a strong work ethic and a desire to develop and sustain an identity as someone who works. Further, these jobs allowed the teens to contribute to the survival of their poverty level households, leading to increased self-esteem and pride. Some youths were motivated by these low-end jobs to save part of their earnings for future educational and job training opportunities, essentially turning a dead-end job into a stepping stone for a career. Newman also found that participation in an employment setting shifted the youths' reference group away from out-of-school peers, into the workplace, and onto employed adult role models.

Contrary to the prevailing wisdom regarding the value of youth employment, some researchers have concluded that it can be harmful to academic and social development. For example, Jerald Bachman and John Schulenberg found in their nationally representative sample of high school seniors, that work intensity (the number of hours worked per week) was associated with behavioral problems as well as diminished time for sleep, eating breakfast, exercising, and dating. These findings, however, do not negate the potential for part-time work to be beneficial when experienced under the right circumstances. Defining the optimal type of job and intensity of work experience for producing positive effects in high school seniors is a task for future researchers. In particular, attention needs to be paid to the quality of the work experience in addition to its quantity. Further, Bach-man and Schulenberg compared outcomes for employed versus not-employed youth in school. They did not examine the impact of employment specifi cally for out-of-school youths for whom employment (as opposed to postsecondary education) is the most viable pathway to adult self-sufficiency.

Youth Employment for Out-of-School and Disadvantaged Youth

In light of the importance of youth employment for disadvantaged youths, it is unfortunate that they face what researchers have called a ''web of mutually reinforcing circumstances and behaviors'' that makes a successful attachment to the labor market extremely difficult. Such circumstances include the deterioration of the labor market in urban communities, overwhelming personal and family issues that would distract even the most dedicated student and worker, and a mismatch between employer demands and the skills of entry-level workers. Indeed, lack of skills and lack of preparation for the workforce have been cited as among the most important reasons for the failure of youths to obtain long-term employment.

Lack of preparation for the transition from school to work is problematic for many minority youths. In general, high school students are ill-prepared for the world of work, a problem that is exacerbated by high school guidance counselors' exclusive focus on postsecondary education. An Educational Testing Service survey published in 1981 found that almost half of all students never talked to a guidance counselor about possible future occupations. These non-college-bound youths received little or no support or guidance in making a successful transition to the work force, often leading to a period of ''floundering'' as these young adults entered the labor market. As Gary Orfield and Faith Paul noted, ''students not bound for college need the most help, receive the least assistance, are equipped with the most limited information, and experience the greatest risks in the job market'' (Mendel 1995). Minority youths comprise one of several groups for whom this chaotic entry into the labor market is particularly harmful. According to Richard Kazis, the employment picture for black and Hispanic young Americans who do not make it to college is so bleak that it constitutes a serious school-to-work crisis.

Access to and identification with adults who have developed labor force attachments are also critical to an adolescent's successful entry into employment. Yet Edwin Farrell found in 1990 that at-risk minority youths have limited involvement with gainfully employed adult role models. Their understanding of the process of getting and maintaining employment was often limited, unrealistic, and inaccurate. Taken together, these data paint a picture of disadvantaged youths who are more likely to fail in school and less likely to build a foundation upon which to create an adult life in which they can support themselves and their families.

Demographic Trends and the Future

Demographic trends at the start of the twenty-first century are likely to increase the difficulty that disadvantaged youths will face in finding their place in the labor market. The total number of sixteen- to twenty-four-year-olds in the nation's population is projected to rise steadily through the year 2010, to 38.7 million, almost 7 million more than in 1995. Along with the expansion in the supply of young workers will be the increase in competition for low wage jobs and the increasingly technological nature of even minimum wage jobs. Thus, there will be a continued high incidence of employment and earning problems among many of the nation's out-of-school youths.

Several steps need to be taken to facilitate the successful transition to employment for disadvantaged and out-of-school youths. First, all youths must be encouraged to stay in school, and schools must provide the literacy and interpersonal skills necessary for successful integration into college, vocational training, and employment. Second, career counseling must be expanded to recognize that many high school seniors will not attend postsecondary education but are ready to pursue meaningful employment experiences. Third, intervention programs that have been proven successful at enhancing the employment experiences of disadvantaged and out-of-school youths need to be made available to all eligible individuals. Fourth, youths in minimum wage jobs need to be encouraged to apply a portion of their earnings to further their education and training. And finally, postsecondary educational opportunities need to be made available to all youths regardless of financial income. With these policies, programs, and practices in place, every youth will have a better chance to achieve the key developmental task of adolescence.



Bachman, Jerald G., and John Schulenberg. ''How Part-Time Work Intensity Relates to Drug Use, Problem Behaviors, Time Use, and Satisfaction among High School Seniors: Are These Consequences or Merely Correlates?" Developmental Psychology 29 (1993):220-235. Barling, Julian, and E. Kevin Kelloway, eds. "Introduction." Young Workers. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 1993.

Erikson, Erik. Childhood and Society. New York: Norton, 1963. Farrell, Edwin. Hanging In and Dropping Out: Voices of At-Risk High School Students. New York: Teachers College Press, 1990.

Havinghurst, R. ''Youth in Exploration and Man Emergent." In Henry Borow ed., Man in a World of Work. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1964.

Kazis, Richard. Improving the Transition from School to Work in the United States. Washington, DC: American Youth Policy Forum, 1993.

Mendel, Richard. The American School-to-Career Movement: A Background Paper for Policymakers and Foundation Officers. Washington, DC: American Youth Policy Forum, 1995.

Newman, Katherine. "Working Poor: Low Wage Employment in the Lives of Harlem Youth." In Julia A. Graber, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, and Anne C. Peterson eds., Transitions through Adolescence: Interpersonal Domains and Context. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1996.

Orfield, Gary, and Faith Paul. High Hopes, Long Odds. Indianapolis: Indiana Youth Institute, 1994.

Super, Donald E. ''Vocational Development in Adolescence and Early Childhood: Tasks and Behaviors.'' In Donald E. Super, R. Starishevsky, N. Matlin, and J. P. Jordan eds., Career Development: Self Concept Theory. New York: College Entrance Examination Board, 1963.


The employment of mothers has been increasing to the point that it is now the modal pattern in the United States. In 1960, fewer than 30 percent of all mothers of children under age eighteen were in the labor force; forty years later, fewer than 30 percent were not in the labor force. Further, 64 percent of all married mothers with preschool children were in the labor force at the beginning of the twenty-first century, as were 73 percent of divorced mothers and 67 percent of the mothers who had never married. In fact, in two-parent families with infants one year old and under, 62 percent of the mothers were employed, a figure more than double the rate in 1975. Thus, most families in the early twenty-first century are ''working families.'' There is considerable public interest in how this shift affects families and children, and it is a research area to which developmental psychologists have given considerable attention.

To understand the impact of maternal employment, it is important to realize that this change has been accompanied by other interrelated changes. Modern technology has diminished the amount of necessary housework and food preparation, women are more educated, marriages are less stable, life expectancy has been increased and youthfulness has been extended, expectations for personal fulfillment have expanded, and traditional gender-role attitudes are less widely held. There have also been changes in child-rearing practices, and the adult roles for which children are being socialized are not the same as previously. The increased employment of mothers is both an effect of these changes and also an influence on them. In addition, the accompanying social changes operate to modify the effects of maternal employment on the family and children.

For example, attitudes about women's roles have changed markedly over the years. The decrease in gender-role traditionalism is one of the factors that has led to the increased employment of mothers. The increased entry of mothers into the labor force itself, however, has also affected attitudes about gender roles. As more mothers seek employment, maternal employment has become more acceptable. In addition, it has affected the division of labor in the home. In dual-earner families, more than three-fourths of the mothers work full-time, thus decreasing the amount of time available for housework and child care. Studies of the family division of labor have long shown that when mothers work, fathers help more with housework and child care. In 1997 James T. Bond, Ellen Galinsky, and Jennifer E. Swanberg conducted a national-sample study to replicate a study from twenty years earlier. The new study found that fathers had become more active in household tasks and child care over the years. Although employed married mothers still do more housework and child care than their husbands, the difference has decreased. Attitudes have also changed. Not only is there more acceptance of mothers working, but there is also more acceptance of fathers helping with housework and child care. These changes, in turn, have modified the effects of employment on children and the stress on mothers. Research by Lois Hoffman and Lise Youngblade has shown that more active participation of fathers in child care and the resultant higher morale of the mothers have positive effects on children's academic performance and social adjustment.

School-Age Children

Most of the research over the years has compared school-age children of employed and nonemployed mothers in terms of academic and social competence. The results have failed to confirm the once widely held belief that mothers' employment would have negative effects on children. Indeed, effects seem mainly positive. The results, however, have not been the same across gender and social class. The most consistent pattern of positive outcomes has been for daughters of employed mothers.

In an extensive 1999 study, Hoffman and Young-blade examined how the mother's employment status affected child outcomes and then focused on why these effects occur. Daughters with employed mothers were found to have better academic and social skills, more independence, and a greater sense of effi cacy, a view that their own actions are important determinants of what happens to them. Having an employed mother itself was related to the daughter's view that women are competent, and this was enhanced when there was a less traditional division of labor between parents. The view that women are competent increased the girls' sense of efficacy, and efficacy predicted social and academic competence. In addition, the data indicated that employed mothers across social class, mothers' marital status, and ethnicity, were less likely to use authoritarian and coercive discipline. This discipline style was particularly harmful for girls and was associated with a low sense of efficacy and shy, withdrawn behavior. Thus the employment status of mothers was linked to family effects that helped explain child outcomes.

Although the finding of higher scores on various cognitive and social adjustment measures for daughters of employed mothers has been consistent over the years, the results for sons have been mixed. Some of the earlier studies found higher academic scores for sons of employed mothers, others found no difference, and a few found lower scores for sons, but only in the middle class. In the study by Hoffman and Youngblade, children with working mothers scored higher on all cognitive measures across gender, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and mothers' marital status. The researchers suggested that the differences between the earlier studies and their own 1999 study reflected the change in fathers' roles over the decades.

Nevertheless, while the sons of employed mothers in the middle class obtained higher cognitive scores, they did not show better social adjustment. In fact, ratings by teachers and peers indicated that, in the middle class, sons of employed mothers who worked full-time engaged in more acting-out and aggressive behavior at school. This pattern was in contrast to sons of employed mothers in the blue-collar class and in poverty who showed less acting-out behavior, less aggression, and better social adjustment generally. An explanation for this class difference given by the researchers was that, although full-time homemakers across class used more authoritarian discipline than employed mothers, the discipline in the middle class was rarely harsh or severe. In the lower socioeconomic groups, and particularly among poor single mothers, this was not the case and harsh discipline was more common for full-time homemakers, though, paradoxically, so was permissiveness.

In addition, in the blue-collar and poverty classes, employed mothers were more likely than full-time homemakers to use a style of control developmental psychologists call ''authoritative.'' Authoritative parenting is a style where parents support their control

A working mother helps her child get ready for school. When children are of school age, working families still have to deal with issues of control and supervision when work hours and school hours do not overlap. (Reflections Photolibrary/Corbis)

with reasons and explanations and allow some input from the child. It is a more common pattern in the middle class generally, but there it was not related to the mother's employment status. Thus, differences between employed and nonemployed mothers in the quality of parenting were more pronounced in the blue-collar and poverty groups, and these differences were linked to child outcomes.

An important reason maternal employment made such a difference in mothers' parenting styles in the lower-class families has to do with the mothers' sense of well-being. Although previous research has often shown that employed mothers have a higher sense of well-being than full-time homemakers, this result is most consistently found for mothers in the blue-collar and poverty groups. This was also true in the Hoffman and Youngblade study. In these lower-income families, the employed mothers scored lower on a measure of depressive mood and higher on a measure of positive morale. Further, for this group, the mothers' sense of well-being was shown to be the link between employment and more positive parenting styles. Employment status was not related to either measure in the middle class.

It may seem strange that employment has a more positive effect on mothers whose work may not be as interesting as the work available to more educated mothers. What these mothers value, however, is not the job itself, but the increased social support and stimulation provided by coworkers, the marked advantages that their wages bring to their families, and the greater sense of control that they feel over their lives. This is particularly true for poor single mothers who are often lonely and depressed, and for whom wages can make a major economic difference.

Infants and Toddlers

The research on infants and toddlers with working mothers has taken a different approach. At these early ages, it is very difficult to measure child outcomes that have long-term predictability, so studies have focused more on mother-child interaction or resorted to long-term designs. Studies of infants have examined the quantity and quality of mother-child interactions, and particular attention has been given to the security of the mother-infant attachment. The studies looking at quantity and quality suggest that although employed mothers spend less time with the infant during the workweek, they are more highly interactive when with them. The studies of attachment have produced mixed results, complicated by measurement difficulties. Most studies found mothers' employment status unrelated to the quality of the mother-infant attachment, but a few found that attachment was less secure when the mother was employed full-time. The most extensive investigation of these issues is an ongoing study conducted by a team of researchers under the auspices of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). In this study, as reported in 1997, neither the child's age at the onset of employment nor the amount of nonmaternal care was found to be related to the security of attachment. What was important was the quality of the mother-child interaction and particularly the mother's sensitivity to the child's needs.

Nonmaternal Care

When mothers are employed, there are often times when both school-age and preschool children need nonmaternal care. A considerable amount of research has been conducted on the effects of non-maternal care on preschoolers. Previous research on the effects of daycare indicated that although the day-care experience was often associated with higher cognitive competence, it was also associated with less compliance and more assertiveness with peers. The NICHD study, as reported in 1998, found that the major variables predicting children's negativity were the mother's sensitivity and her psychological adjustment. Both higher quality of nonmaternal care and greater experience in groups with other children predicted socially competent behavior. It was also the case, however, that more time in child care and less stable care predicted problematic and noncompliant behavior. On the whole, the results indicated that the home environment is the major influence on child outcomes, but that the quality and stability of the non-maternal care does have an effect.

When children are of school age, working families still have to deal with issues of control and super vision when work hours and school hours do not overlap. An increasing number of schools and community organizations have responded by setting up after-school and before-school programs as well as supervised lunchrooms. Neighbors, relatives, and older siblings often fill in. Some children, however, return from school to an empty house. The effects of such unsupervised care vary widely depending on whether the child stays in the home and is governed by set rules and telephone contact, where the child spends this time if not in the home, and the safety of the neighborhood. For children of all ages, however, the prevalence of working families has brought with it a need for community programs and affordable, stable, high-quality nonparental care—a need that has not yet been met. This is an important social issue that needs to be addressed given that most families today are working families.



Bond, James T., Ellen Galinsky, and Jennifer E. Swanberg. 1997 National Study of the Changing Workforce. New York: Families and Work Institute, 1998. Clarke-Stewart, Alison. ''Infant Day Care: Maligned or Malignant?'' American Psychologist 44 (1989):266-273. Hoffman, Lois W., and Lise M. Youngblade. Mothers at Work: Effects on Children's Well-Being. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Early Child Care Research Network. ''The Effects of Infant Child Care on Mother-Infant Attachment Security: Results of the NICHD Study of Early Child Care.'' Child Development 68 (1997):860-879.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Early Child Care Research Network. ''Early Child Care and Self-Control, Compliance, and Problem Behavior at Twenty-Four and Thirty-Six Months.'' Child Development 69 (1998):1145-1170.

Warr, Peter, and Glenys Parry. ''Paid Employment and Women's Psychological Well-Being.'' Psychological Bulletin 91 (1982):498-516.

Lois Wladis Hoffman

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