Felton Earls is Professor Emeritus of Human Behavior and Development at the Harvard School of Public Health and Professor Emeritus of Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School. With colleagues Robert Sampson, Stephen Raudenbush and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, he spent 10 years on The Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, a major, interdisciplinary study aimed at deepening society’s understanding of the causes and pathways of juvenile delinquency, adult crime, mental disorder, and violence. It was directed from the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School, and funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the National Institute of Justice, the National Institute of Mental Health, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Administration for Children, Youth and Families. Earls, Sampson and Raudenbush discovered that the key to reducing crime goes beyond the popular “broken window” theory of crime reduction: Neighborhoods successfully manage bad conditions when the residents themselves take initiative to improve their surroundings and take actions for each other’s benefit. His recent work is designed to create community-based interventions to prevent institutionalization, homelessness, and traumatic experiences for young people in the context of HIV/AIDs.
Earls was a member of the Committee for Human Rights at the National Academy for Sciences, and The Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences. He served on the Board of Directors of Physicians for Human Rights, he was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and he was a board member of Physicians for Human Rights. He led Harvard’s South Africa Fellowship Program. Dr. Earls’ publication record includes studies on behavioral problems in preschool children, mental health of children of alcoholic parents, risk factors for violence and HIV infection in adolescents and young adults, and international aspects of child and adolescent mental health. In addition to numerous articles on child rights, his most recent books include: Firearm Violence Exposure and Serious Violent Behavior (2005); The Social Ecology of Child Health and Well-being (with Mary Carlson, 2001); Neighborhoods and Violent Crime: A Multilevel Study of Collective Efficacy (with Robert Sampson and Stephen Raudenbush, 1997); Breaking the Cycle: Predicting and Preventing Crime (with Albert J. Reiss, Jr., 1994); and Critical Health Issues for Children and Youth (1994).