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Raising Children in a Socially Toxic Environment 1st Edition

6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0787950422
ISBN-10: 0787950424
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Paperback, August 31, 1999
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Editorial Reviews


"Garbarino makes us believe that we can have control over our environments and the kind of society we want for our children. . . . He gives all of us valuable tools for helping kids negotiate through an increasingly complex, high-risk world." (Paul Simon, former U.S. Senator, Illinois)

"I am struck by how readily we ignore the very real toxicity of our children's social environment. I am grateful to Jim Garbarino for this A to Z list of ways we can respond more positively." (Anne Cohn Donnelly, executive director, National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse)

"Garbarino is one of our nation's major social critics. This insightful analysis is a must-read for parents, early childhood advocates, and policy makers." (Edward Zigler, Sterling Professor of Psychology, Yale University)

"Garbarino offers solutions. . . . The message is powerful, research-based, and written for readers from all walks of life. We highly recommend it." (The National Dropout Prevention Newsletter)

From the Inside Flap

For children, the mere act of living in our society is dangerous. Drugs, guns, AIDS, divorce, poverty, and violence are constantly damaging their lives. Their mental as well as physical health and well-being are in jeopardy.Author James Garbarino, whose thirty-year career has focused on the effects of violence and abuse on child development, draws attention to these dangers and explains how to strengthen children, families, and communities so that they can resist these toxic influences. His book is designed to help parents, policymakers, professionals, religious leaders, and concerned citizens throughout the country work together to detoxify the social environment.Garbarino suggests specific actions that individuals, families, schools, and communities can take to help our most vulnerable kids. Drawing on psychological and social research findings, he explores the trAnds toward economic polarization, desensitization to violence, large depersonalizing schools, and the nastiness of popular culture. And he illuminates his data with narrative accounts of these issues as they are played out in the lives of real children and youth--helping us understand what we can do to take an impassioned stance against encroaching violence and social decay. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (August 31, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787950424
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787950422
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #574,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Nui Earles on September 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
Garbarino articulates very well the difficulty of raising children in a "toxic" environment. He takes an environmentalist approach or viewpoint and in a way it is very comforting because it gives good guidelines for parents on how to protect their children. He also strongly outlines ideas for social and political policy. This books gives parents a "global" view of childrearing. While it outlines the challenges it is a book of hope. It is clear, we all need to think about children if we are concerned about the future whether we have them or not.
I strongly recommend this book for parents and educators.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brandy Bergenstock on September 24, 2012
Format: Paperback
First I want to comment on some of Roberto's criticisms- to agree and disagree.
Agree- I agree this book is getting dated fast. Like all social anthropology, the experience/information is about the now, and can be quickly overruled by new, more dominant forces at large in a culture.
Disgree- That this makes every point irrelevant. I think the heart of this book is that there are mitigating circumstances that can deprive or enrich a child, in that child's individual life, beside and sometimes outside of the larger culture.
Disagree- I saw Garbarino's thesis as "how to raise a healthy child despite any cultural toxicity". This books makes the point that there is no one to blame. Having a"toxic" culture is no excuse for your child's end personality or their life. There are ways to combat and strengthen people even in the most difficult of circumstances.
Agree- I agree with Roberto that Garbarino is far too pessimistic about our current culture, but I disagree that this was his point to blame Gen X or any other generation. It's kinda of amazing to me that Roberto seemed to miss the entire point of this book! -You can raise healthy kids anywhere, at any time, in any culture!
I grow up in low income housing, and it was so easy to me find examples in my own history of families that had thrived in our environment, and families that seemed crushed and withered, only to blame where they lived or the larger culture for their kids' disrespectful, disobedient, disturbed life choices. Garbarino makes the point of what is helpful to overcome challenges and what works better than other options. I find this book personally fascinating and recommended it to a friend the other day.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Raising Children in a Socially Toxic Environment is a good read book, riveting in its style and its statisitcs. James Garbarino explains that the studies indicate that the 1990s were not the 1950s anymore, not on poverty, families, violence, or "inner city neighborhoods".

The book is delightful in that chapter after chapter it explains what can be done, and "handles" every big family problem from divorce to guns, abandonment, television and diets, schools and futures, participation and leadership, financial security, to knowing about alcoholism. The last chapter even ends with kiss and makeup, men must change, and live lightly on the earth for the environmentalists.

However, the statistics in the book, similar to those reported in Opposing views for teens a decade later, are horrifying. In high crime neighborhoods, researchers were reporting more than a third of children by age 15 had witnessed a homicide (p.64). Surveys in public housing were indicating depression rates of 50% among the mothers (with maternal depression very important at child neglect and abuse, and before that at maternal attachment) (p.81). "In 1960, nearly 80% of all children were living with their biological parents, and by 1990, only 50% were!" In 1960, about 5% births were to single mothers to 25% in 1990. In the US, in 1980, only 23% moved out of poverty the year after becoming poor.

Garbarino is fantastic because he knows that poverty is the enemy of family stability, and that "the economic penalty of single parenthood is an urgent problem in its own right" (p.46). And good health diagnosis is even in with post-traumatic stress symptoms in children that cause sleep disturbances, extreme startle responses, and even chemical imbalances due to trauma.
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