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James Garbarino  

Author, Psychologist, Expert on Violence & Children

James Garbarino received his PhD in Human Development and Family Studies from Cornell University in 1973. He currently holds the Maude C. Clarke Chair in Humanistic Psychology and was founding Director of the Center for the Human Rights of Children at Loyola University Chicago. Previously he was Elizabeth Lee Vincent Professor of Human Development and Co-Director of the Family Life Development Center at Cornell University, where he is now Emeritus Professor. He earned his B.A. from St. Lawrence University in 1968, and his Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from Cornell University in 1973. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Garbarino has served as consultant or advisor to a wide range of organizations, including the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, the National Institute for Mental Health, the American Medical Association, the National Black Child Development Institute, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect, and the FBI. In 1991, he undertook missions for UNICEF to assess the impact of the Gulf War upon children in Kuwait and Iraq, and advises programs dealing with literacy as a resource in dealing with trauma in El Salvador and India.

Among the books he has authored or edited are: Listening to Killers: Lessons Learned from My 20 Years as a Psychological Expert Witness in Murder Cases (2015), Miller’s Children: Why Giving Teenage Killers a Second Chance Matters for All of Us (2018), Children and the Dark Side of Human Experience (2008), See Jane Hit: Why Girls Are Growing More Violent and What We Can Do About It (2006). And Words Can Hurt Forever: How to Protect Adolescents from Bullying, Harassment, and Emotional Violence (2002); Parents Under Siege: Why You Are the Solution, Not the Problem, in Your Child’s Life (2001); Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them (1999); Raising Children in a Socially Toxic Environment (1995); Let's Talk About Living in a World with Violence (1993); Children in Danger: Coping With The Consequences of Community Violence (1992); Children and Families in the Social Environment, Second edition (1992); What Children Can Tell Us (1989); No Place To Be A Child: Growing Up In A War Zone (1991); Psychologically Battered Child (1986); Troubled Youth, Troubled Families (1986); Adolescent Development: An Ecological Perspective (1985); Social Support Networks (1983); Successful Schools and Competent Students (1981); Understanding Abusive Families (1980; Second Edition, 1997); and Protecting Children from Abuse and Neglect (1980). Dr. Garbarino serves as a consultant for media reports on children and families. In 1981, he received the Silver Award at the International Film and Television Festival of New York for co-authoring "Don't Get Stuck There: A Film on Adolescent Abuse." In 1985, he collaborated with John Merrow to produce "Assault on the Psyche," a program dealing with psychological abuse. He also serves as a scientific expert witness in criminal and civil cases involving issues of violence and children.

The National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect honored Dr. Garbarino in 1985 with its first C. Henry Kempe Award, in recognition of his efforts on behalf of abused and neglected children. In 1979, and again in 1981, he received the Mitchell Prize from the Woodlands Conference on Sustainable Societies. In 1987, he was elected President of the American Psychological Association's Division on Child, Youth and Family Services. In 1988, he received the American Humane Association's Vincent De Francis Award for nationally significant contributions to child protection. In 1989, he received the American Psychological Association's Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Public Service, and in 1992, the Society for Psychological Study of Social Issues prize for research on child abuse. In 1993, he received the Brandt F. Steele Award from the Kempe National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, and in 1994 the American Psychological Association's Division on Child, Youth and Family Services’ Nicholas Hobbs Award. Also in 1994, he received the Dale Richmond Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics. In 1995, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by St. Lawrence University. In 1999, he received the Humanitarian Award from the University of Missouri’s International Center for Psychosocial Trauma. In 2000, he received the President’s Celebrating Success Award from the National Association of School Psychologists, and in 2003 the Outstanding Service to Children Award of the Chicago Association for the Education of Young Children. In 2011, he received the Max Hayman Award from the American Orthopsychiatric Association for contributions to the prevention of genocide. In 2015, he received the Rosenberry Award from Colorado Children’s Hospital in Denver, for his work in advancing clinical insight into children and youth. In 2016, he received the Paul Fink Interpersonal Violence Prevention Award from the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence.

Speech Topics


See Jane Hit: Why Girls Are Growing More Violent and What We Can Do About It

Words Can Hurt Forever: How to Protect Adolescents from Bullying, Harassment, and Emotional Violence

Parents Under Siege: Why You Are the Solution, Not the Problem, in Your Child's Life

Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them

Youth violence is a major problem in the United States. Understanding its origins in the early experience of children is important for interpreting the actions of violent youth and acting to reduce their aggression. This presentation seeks to illuminate these issues by tracing the developmental pathways taken by difficult children who become criminally violent youth. It focuses on the accumulation of risk factors in the lives of these children.

These risk factors include the experiences of child maltreatment and other forms of trauma, difficult temperaments, parental and teacher mishandling of troubled children, and the social toxicity of the community. Contributors to the toxicity of the social environment for children and youth include instability of relationships, civic cynicism, terminal thinking, economic polarization, desensitization to violence, "the spiritual crisis," and the nastiness of popular culture.

The effects of this social toxicity are felt and expressed most by the most vulnerable youth -- e.g. those from de-stabilized families, those subject to racism, and poverty, and those with disabilities. Efforts to deal with the issues of social toxicity involve both strengthening youth to decrease their vulnerability, and simultaneously detoxifying the social environment. The presentation is based on Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them.

Raising Children in a Socially Toxic Environment

Let's Talk About Living in a World with Violence

Children in Danger: Coping With The Consequences of Community Violence

Children and Families in the Social Environment

Saving Children: A Guide to Injury Prevention

What Children Can Tell Us

No Place To Be A Child: Growing Up In A War Zone

Special Children/Special Risks: The Maltreatment of Children with Disabilities

The Psychologically Battered Child

Troubled Youth, Troubled Families

Adolescent Development: An Ecological Perspective

Social Support Networks

Successful Schools and Competent Students

Understanding Abusive Families

Protecting Children From Abuse and Neglect

A Developmental Perspective on Trauma in Childhood and Adolesence

This presentation will examine how trauma in childhood and adolescence affects development. It explores developmental considerations in how trauma is defined and what domains of behavior are most affected. And, it outlines the concept of Post Traumatic Stress Development as an adjunct to conventional thinking about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

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