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The Vulnerable Child takes us beyond stereotypes and superficial categorizations to provide a thorough examination of the true nature of childhood disadvantage. Richard Weissbourd interviewed hundreds of children and professionals from areas as diverse as Danville, Arkansas; New York City; Seattle; Boston; Chicago; and Baltimore. He also reexamined a broad spectrum of past and present research. What he found is that, while poverty and racial prejudice contribute greatly to the disadvantage of millions of children, in fact most children at risk are not poor, and there is much evidence to suggest that factors such as chronic parental stress and depression have a more powerful influence on a child's fate than whether or not there are two parents in the home or whether or not the family lives below the poverty line. The Vulnerable Child demonstrates why so many of our efforts to help children have failed. More important, it describes in detail programs that have approached disadvantage from this more perceptive and integrated perspective - in health care, in education, in child protective services, and in community policing - and have brilliantly succeeded. The two most fundamental lessons are that, to help kids, programs must strengthen parents, and programs must provide a ladder of meaningful opportunities. The Vulnerable Child not only shows us what can be done to help; it shows conclusively that the children needing help are not somehow "other." They are all America's children.
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