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Victor Rios      

Educator, Author, & Creator of Project GRIT

Professor Rios's work analyzes the role of social control and education in determining the well-being of young people living in urban marginality; tracks the social consequences of the punitive state and punitive social control-across institutional settings; and examines young people’s resilience and responses to social marginalization.

Rios’s book Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys, analyzes how juvenile crime policies and criminalization affect the everyday lives of urban youth. Punished is Winner of, the Oliver Cromwell Cox Book Award, American Sociological Association, Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities; Honorable Mention for Outstanding Book Award, American Sociological Association, Section on Inequality, Poverty, and Mobility; C. Wright Mills Book Award Finalist, Society for the Study of Social Problems; Distinguished Book Award, American Sociological Association, Section on Latina/o Sociology and Honorable Mention for the Eduardo Bonilla-Silva Book Award, Society for the Study of Social Problems.

In his book Human Targets: Schools, Police, and the Criminalization of Latino Youth Rios finds the traditional good kid/bad kid, street kid/decent kid dichotomy is much too simplistic, arguing instead that authorities and institutions help create these identities—and that they can play an instrumental role in providing young people with the resources for shifting between roles. He finds that to be a poor Latino youth is to be a human target—victimized and considered an enemy by others, viewed as a threat to law enforcement and schools, and burdened by stigma, disrepute, and punishment. Human Targets was a selection for the LA Times Festival of Books in 2017.

Rios has also published on juvenile justice, masculinity, and race and crime in scholarly journals such as The Annals of the Academy of Political and Social Sciences, The Annual Review of Sociology, Latino Studies, and Critical Criminology.

Professor Rios has been chosen for the 2017 Public Understanding of Sociology Award. The award is given to a "person or persons who have made exemplary contributions to advance the public understanding of sociology, sociological research, and scholarship among the general public." He Chairs the Latina/o Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association.

Rios engages in multiple public sociology projects. One of his recent projects is an intervention with high school students that have been pushed-out. A documentary film, The Pushouts, funded by Sundance, The Ford Foundation, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, YouthBuild and other foundations, featuring his work premiered in 2018. His Ted Talk “Help for the Kids the Education System Ignores” has garnered over 1.3 million views.

In 2018 Rios was one of two nominees for Vice President of the American Sociological Association.

Speech Topics

Speech Topics

  • K-12 Professional Development
  • Student Assemblies
  • Keynote Presentations
  • Motivational Programming
  • University Student Conferences
  • Research Presentations on Educational Equity, Resilience, and Emotional Support
  • Program and WASC Evaluation


TED Talks Profile Latino Game Changers On an 'Education ...
Victor Rios speaks at TED Talks Live -- Education Revolution, November 2, 2015, The Town Hall, New York City. Ryan Lash/TED / Ryan Lash/TED.

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