James Garbarino

Dr. James Garbarino, Director of the Center for the Human Rights of Children at Loyola University in Chicago, brings a history of concern for children to the SAA Honorary Board.

As Director of the Center and holder of the Maude C. Clarke Chair in Humanistic Psychology, Dr. Garbarino supervises a variety of programs which include:

  • Biennial Symposia on the Human Rights of Children to include topics, “A Child’s Right to a Healthy Environment” and “The Rights of Children with Disabilities”.
  • Publication of a handbook for professionals which clarifies children’s rights as defined by the United Nations.
  • Issue oriented course offerings and seminars for students.
  • The creation of student immersion experiences such as a student immersion with indigenous people in Mexico to explore children’s rights.

Since 1980, Dr. Garbarino has authored or edited an extensive list of books that focus on the well-being of children. In his current book, Little Matters of Life and Death: Protecting the Human Rights of Children, to be published in 2008, he recounts a range of experiences on children’s rights from a world-wide perspective. In addition to his writings, Dr. Garbarino serves as a consultant to television, magazine and newspaper 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 videotaped program dealing with psychological abuse. He also serves as a scientific expert witness in criminal and civil cases involving issues of violence and children. Aspects of his career that have provided Dr. Garbarino the greatest satisfaction include his work with children in refugee camps and war zones and his role as expert witness in death penalty cases involving adults who were abused as children.

Dr. Garbarino has been honored extensively for his efforts on behalf of abused and neglected children and for his work in child protection. Recent honors include the President’s Celebrating Success Award from the National Association of School Psychologists in 2000 and the Outstanding Service to Children Award of the Chicago Association for the Education of Young Children in 2003. Throughout the years, he has been recognized by the National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect (1985), the National Academy of Education (1975), the Kellogg Foundation (1981), the Woodlands Conference on Sustainable Societies (1979 and 1981), The American Psychological Association (1989 and 1994), the Society for Psychological Study of Social Issues (1992), the Kempe National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (1993), the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics (1994), St. Lawrence University (1995), and the University of Missouri’s International Center for Psychosocial Trauma (1999) … an impressive and yet, not exhaustive list!

Previous to his position at Loyola University, Chicago, Dr. Garbarino served as Professor of Human Development at Cornell University, and from 1985 to 1994, he was President of the Erikson Institute for Advanced Study in Child Development. He holds a B.A. from St. Lawrence University and a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from Cornell University. He has served as a consultant or advisor to a wide range of organizations and his work has included missions in countries throughout the world.

Art plays an important role in Dr. Garbarino’s efforts to connect with children as he finds it especially effective in initiating communication with children under terrible stress. Drawings and puppetry provide him a means to break through to the individual child. In his extensive work in areas of the world under great stress, Dr. Garbarino has found that art, wherever it is offered, allows for a better job by virtue of the affirming quality the arts are able to bring to each child. He has stated, “The worse off the children are, the more important these programs (Arts) become.” Research, he explains, has shown that children who develop some skill or ability have a foundation for resilience—that critical ability to overcome adversity. So often, children in stressed areas of the world are defined only as “victims” and are not seen as individuals with wonderful potential. The Arts affirm the value of the individual and give each child a sense of hope and value; they provide a means to move the child from a self definition of “victim” to a person with his own sense of self esteem. Dr. Garbarino believes that the Arts build the self confidence essential for survival.

The SAA salutes Dr. Garbarino and his many contributions to children and is privileged that he is an SAA Honorary Board Member.