Spirit Children: Illness, Poverty, and Infanticide in Northern Ghana
In parts of West Africa, some babies and toddlers are considered spirit children—nonhumans sent from the forest to cause misfortune and destroy the family. These are usually deformed or ailing infants, the very young whose births coincide with tragic events, or children who display unusual abilities. In some of these cases, families seek a solution in infanticide. Many others do not.
Chinese academic traditions take zuo ren—self-fulfillment in terms of moral cultivation—as the ultimate goal of education. To many in contemporary China, however, the nation seems gripped by moral decay, the result of rapid and profound social change over the course of the twentieth century. Placing Chinese children, alternately seen as China’s greatest hope and derided as self-centered “little emperors,” at the center of her analysis, Jing Xu investigates the effects of these transformations on the moral development of the nation’s youngest generation.
June 15 marks the 5-year anniversary of the DACA program. For the first time, a recent study analyzes DACA’s impacts on recipients’ psychological wellbeing. The results are clear: DACA can make you feel better, though it may not resolve concerns about deportation.
Undocumented immigrant youth in the United States face a host of challenges that impact their psychological wellbeing. Many experience hopelessness, shame and self-blame, anxiety, fear of deportation, and concern about blocked social mobility. One recent study found that undocumented youth experience a loss of “ontological security,” or the inability to count on the stability of the future. Another study led by immigrant youth at the UCLA Dream Resource Center found that undocumented youth struggle with depression, anxiety, trauma, and emotional distress related to their status. There have even been reports of suicide among undocumented young people who felt they could not overcome the barriers imposed by their status.
In Zambia, due to the rise of tuberculosis and the closely connected HIV epidemic, a large number of children have experienced the illness or death of at least one parent. Children as Caregivers examines how well intentioned practitioners fail to realize that children take on active caregiving roles when their guardians become seriously ill and demonstrates why understanding children’s care is crucial for global health policy.
Using ethnographic methods, and listening to the voices of the young as well as adults, Jean Hunleth makes the caregiving work of children visible. She shows how children actively seek to “get closer” to ill guardians by providing good care. Both children and ill adults define good care as attentiveness of the young to adults’ physical needs, the ability to carry out treatment and medication programs in the home, and above all, the need to maintain physical closeness and proximity. Children understand that losing their guardians will not only be emotionally devastating, but that such loss is likely to set them adrift in Zambian society, where education and advancement depend on maintaining familial, reciprocal relationships. View a gallery of images from the book.
Crying for Our Elders: African Orphanhood in the Age of HIV and AIDS, is now shipping from the University of Chicago Press. Click HERE to access an order form for 20% off the list price. Then click on FILES and choose the EU or the US order form.
Download the OCMH Conference flyer announcement for full details.
Call for papers deadline: January 15, 2017
One Child, Many Hands: A Multidisciplinary Conference on Child Welfare is a multidisciplinary conference geared for child welfare practitioners, policy makers and administrators alike. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is serving as Lead Community Sponsor of the conference, to be held at the beautiful and historic University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Opening the conference is acclaimed author, professor, and foster parent, Cris Beam. Cris’ book, To the End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care, was named a New York Times Notable Book in 2013 and is a must-read for those working in the child welfare system.
In keeping with this year’s theme of Transcending Adversity, closing the conference will be Dr. Robert Anda, co-principal investigator and co-founder of the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACEs) for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This groundbreaking 17,000 patient study tracked the effects of child abuse and childhood trauma on health throughout the lifespan, and is clearly one of the most influential pieces of research of our time.