The University Record, March 29, 1993

SRCD annual meeting more upbeat thanks to Clinton administration’s emphasis on needs of children, families

A large contingent of U-M faculty members and graduate students were among more than 4,000 researchers to attend the 60th biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) in New Orleans last week.

The articles here were written by Diane Swanbrow of News and Information Services.

The U-M papers, poster presentations, lectures and symposia helped to catalog the problems facing contemporary children and their families, according to psychology Prof. John W. Hagen, a long-time SRCD executive officer.

“The Clinton administration’s new emphasis on the needs of children and families made the mood of this meeting more upbeat than it has been in some time,” said Hagen.

The meeting program reflected the growing realization among researchers from a variety of disciplines that many American children today are not the white middle-class products of two-parent families, he added.

“Nearly half the presentations at our last meeting dealt with the effects of poverty on children, ethnic and cross-cultural issues, or various factors, including alcoholism and parental mental illness, that put children at risk emotionally, academically or physically,” said Hagen, who also directs the Center for Human Growth and Development. “The importance of the social and familial context in which children grow up is even more evident in this year’s program.”

Among the U-M presentations:

—Hagen chaired an invited symposium on “What leads to academic high risk and what can be done about it?”

—Vonnie C. McLoyd, professor of psychology and Afroamerican studies and research scientist at the Center for Human Growth and Development, chaired an invited symposium on “Research on Childhood Poverty: Exploring its Relevance to Current Policy Debates,” and presented research on the psychological costs of poverty to African American single mothers and their children.

—John Schulenberg, assistant research scientist, and Jerald G. Bachman, interim director and research scientist at the Survey Research Center of the Institute for Social Research (ISR), presented new national data on “Long hours on the job: Not so bad for some adolescents in some types of jobs.”

—Greg J. Duncan, professor of economics and ISR research scientist, presented new national data on “Economic Deprivation and Child Development.”

—Jacquelynne Eccles, professor of psychology and ISR research scientist, discussed new insights gained from her work on “Parenting Adolescents in High and Low Risk Communities.”

—Lawrence Hirschfeld, assistant professor of anthropology and of social work, presented experimental data on “Children’s beliefs about the innate potential of race” and “Young children’s understanding of racial constancy.”

In addition, Harold W. Stevenson, professor of psychology and fellow at the Center for Human Growth and Development, received the SRCD Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Child Development. Stevenson’s current research includes several comparative studies of Chinese, Japanese and American students.