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In a new book, Voice, Choice, and Action: The Potential of Young Citizens to Heal Democracy, AAPSS Fellow Felton Earls, a psychiatrist, joins with neurobiologist Mary Carlson to explore how democracies can be strengthened by fostering the participation of children and increasing public awareness of their potential role as deliberative citizens.

The book expands on an earlier ANNALS volume for which Earls was the special editor. The Child as Citizen (ANNALS 633, January 2011) considered conceptual, legal, and practical issues related to the realization of children as citizens, work that set the stage for a more focused research agenda in subsequent years.

Drawing on that research, Earls and Carlson make a case for the inclusion of young people in engaged democratic citizenship. They reference their studies of infant institutionalization in Romania, the community-mindedness of street children in Brazil, and the origins of prosocial and antisocial behavior in Chicago teenagers. Championing an action-based, participatory approach rooted in work on both child development and social justice, the authors provide specific guidelines for parents, teachers, police, and other authority figures to establish Young Citizens programs for preteens and young teens in their own communities, and they vividly detail the science, ethics, and techniques for encouraging young citizens to meet challenges to their communities with effective social action.

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